Now, that I have read the full majority decision of the Supreme Court and the full minority decision of the Supreme Court, I make these comments.
Jarigbe Agom has claimed several times that his battle is of the Lord, I’m beginning to see that. There is no way to explain what happened at the Supreme Court without ascribing it to the divine. The opposition handed him that victory on a platter of gold.
Let Me Explain
1. That I love Jarigbe Agom is an open secret. Most people even think I’m one of his lawyers, on his pay roll, but I’m not. I was not that fortunate. 😀 I openly supported him in this fight simply because I felt and still feel that he was pushed into the battlefield. I feel the leaders of the PDP in Cross River State brought this unnecessary intra party fight upon themselves. My adumbrations on this is well known and well documented.
2. Somehow I thought Jarigbe will win the legal battles about the authentic list, who is the party candidate and who was elected. I prayed for him to win. I wished I was even part of his legal team, even if it is pro bono. This is because I saw him as the underdog; I always support underdogs, I always want underdogs to win.
3. So, as each of Jarigbe’s legal victories was announced, I celebrated, I congratulated him.
4. However, when the Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the FCT High Court ordering INEC to issue Jarigbe certificate of return as the duly elected Senator representing Cross River State Northern Senatorial District, I went into a panicked celebration. I even wrote a piece where I expressed my fear that Jarigbe was at the cusp of winning big or losing it all.
5. Why was I worried? It was clear as crystal to any lawyer who is not totally blinded by partisan politics that, that decision cannot stand because necessary parties (PDP and Stephen Odey) were not joined. I didn’t say this much but I was 200% sure that the Supreme Court will throw it out. In fact, I was simply waiting for this to happen. That’s why I advised strongly against Jarigbe being sworn in before the determination of the case at the Supreme Court. I was worried he will lose his seat as House member and then still get thrown out as Senator. There were still other ways (including the Election Tribunal) that he could still had bounced back; but I didn’t want him losing it all before bouncing back.
6. When Stephen Odey appealed, I was like “oh my God, it’s gonna happen. Jarigbe can’t win this one.” First, appealing wasn’t the first best option I saw for Stephen, but appeal was the second best and his lawyers choose appeal. I wonder why they didn’t choose the first but well, it doesn’t matter, Jarigbe won’t survive the Supreme Court anyways.
7. Of course, I didn’t shout about my fear and conviction that Jarigbe won’t survive Supreme Court; I didn’t want to dampen morale and I still hoped that he will come out victorious. In fact, I told my friend, Joseph Ishaje, that Jarigbe will only win at the Supreme Court if Stephen Odey and his lawyers make a grave mistake. And this is exactly what happened!
8. Stephen Odey made that grave mistake. They failed to serve the notice of appeal properly. And when they were caught in the act, they attempted to correct it “fraudulently”; the majority of the Supreme Court Justices saw through it all and struck out the appeal.
9. The minority of Supreme Court Justices who looked at the substantive appeal upheld it and overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal on the grounds I feared they would: the FCT High Court lacked jurisdiction because proper parties were not joined.
10. The Supreme Court minority decision on the substantive appeal is sound and the majority decision striking out the Notice of Appeal is also very sound. In the end Jarigbe won.
He won by the costly mistake of Dr. Stephen Odey or what I see as favour from God. The appeal was struck out and the statutory period to relist has elapsed. So, the judgement of the Court of Appeal stands and the certificate of return issued to Rt. Hon Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe remains valid.
11. This looks more like God’s favour when you consider the fact that Stephen Odey was represented by the legal god of election petition. The revered SAN doesn’t make those kind of mistakes. Even the Justice who read the lead judgement insinuated this much.
12. So, why has Jarigbe not be sworn in? Why is Stephen Odey turning round to say the judgement he appealed doesn’t apply to him? All those ones na politics. If politicians can play politics with people’s lives, is it judgement of the Supreme Court they can’t play politics with?
13. Is it over for Stephen Odey? From where I stand, there is still a lot of legal tiki taka to be played on this issue, but trying to stop Jarigbe Agom from being sworn in through letter writing by lawyers is not one of them.
Firsts Baba Isa (FBI) is an Ogoja born Lawyer based in Abuja.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, First Baba Isa and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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