June 13, 2021

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Egbona vs John Gaul: All Eyes Now On Ekureku

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Within the next 90 days, there will be a clearer picture. The world will know whose right it is, to occupy the Abi/Yakurr Federal constituency seat in the House of Representatives.
A former speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, John Gaul Lebo, is fighting hard to take the seat from Egbona. He is of the PDP. But Senator Liyel Imoke has not hidden his desire to get him into the National Assembly, perhaps, at all costs.
On the eve of the general election in March, Imoke, the immediate past governor of the state, personally went to Ekureku to plead the people not to vote for Egbona, their son. He begged them not to disgrace him. A town crier was engaged to persuade the people to vote for John Gaul, for Imoke’s sake.
The effrontery seemed to have angered the people the more, or so it seemed. So, the people put themselves together and vowed that all their votes would be harvested for their son. And harvest, they did. At the end of the day, Imoke was disgraced. John Gaul lost. That is Act 1.
Then comes Act 2. Imoke was said to have told those he wanted, that the tribunal would sack Egbona. But he added a proviso: Egbona could get victory at the court of appeal. That prophecy came to pass last Saturday, when the apex court presided over by Mr Justice Tijani Abubakar upturned the verdict of the tribunal.
But the court ordered a fresh election in Ekureku 1 and 2. It is expected therefore, that everybody will return to the field once INEC blows the whistle.
It is however not certain whether Imoke will return to Ekureku to canvass votes for John Gaul. It is not clear if Imoke will, this time, move from house to house, personally, to beg Ekureku people to abandon their son, the man Ekureku people see as their light, according to reports. It is not clear if Imoke will take John Gaul with him to Ekureku, to beg them to support the former speaker. Only Imoke can say.
But Egbona has already expressed the hope that he would defeat John Gaul again and again. Ostensibly so. Already Ekureku people appear very bitter. Only recently, some chiefs from the area were placed on suspension by the PDP state government for daring to speak publicly in support of the Egbona cause. This is said to have annoyed the Ekureku people. Some of the villagers say the re-run election will be an opportunity for them to show how angry they are with those who are trying to persecute them for standing for what they believe.
Shortly after the appeal court judgement, Egbona had said in a statement that he was ready to return to the field, just as he urged his people to dust their PVCs and get ready for the election.
Hear him: “The Appeal court sitting in Calabar has set aside the judgment of the elections petition tribunal which nullified my election. The court has also ruled that a fresh election be held in my village, my strong hold-Ekureku 1 and 2, within the next 90 days.
“From this judgement, those who were celebrating and making preparations to go to Abuja for the inauguration of a man that never won an election have been put to shame. Those who were already dreaming to take over my seat in the House of Reps have been put to shame, alongside their godfathers. The God that we serve, the God of Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency, the God of the masses that I represent and will continue to represent, is not asleep and has shown today that He is with us. We won yesterday, we will win again.
“I can boldly say that even if INEC conducts election in our constituency 100 times, we will win. I am therefore urging all of you, my followers, fans, supporters, to remain calm. One battle has been won, the next will come within the next 90 days.
“So, Ekureku people, dust your voters cards and get ready. We will return to the field and this time, you will show them that the votes we got in March this year were even a child’s play, compared to what you will do whenever INEC announces a date for the fresh election.”
Abubakar, after delivering judgement on all the appeal cases before him, had expressed joy over the conduct of the Calabar bar, noting that there was no recalcitrance in the temple of justice in the state.
Abubakar while urging the lawyers to “keep it up,” also dedicated the success of the court of appeal judgments to the Nigerian people.
The Abubakar panel had also dismissed the appeal filed by Charles Ikpi Eni of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for lack of merit and affirmed the judgment of the Election Petition Tribunal in favour of Nelson Ofem of the PDP for Yakurr 1 State Constituency.
Other appeals dismissed for lacking in merit were Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba of the All Progressives Congress against Senator Sandy Onor of the PDP and two others, for Cross River Central Senatorial seat, decided in favour of Onor.
The appeal involving Victor Abang of APC and Chris Agibe of the PDP and two others over the Ikom/Boki Federal Constituency seat was decided in favor of the PDP.

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