By Ushang Ewa
The Calabar division that of the Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeals filed by two out of the three parties over the ruling of the Elections Petition Tribunal of the December 5, 2020 senatorial by-election in northern Cross River.
The Court allowed appeal number CA/C/NAEA/SEN/169/2021 filed by Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe. This means that Mr. Jarigbe is the duly elected Senator representing northern Cross River.
The appeals dismissed were CA/C/NAEA/SEN/167/2021 and CA/C/NAEA/SEN/168/2021 filed by Joe Agi (SAN) who was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Stephen Odey who was argued that he was the duly nominated candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which won the by-elections.
All three appeals were consolidated with Mr. Agi and the APC listed in the judgment order as first and second appellants respectively.
In her judgment, the Presiding Justice, Chioma Nwosu-Iheme held that the Certificate of Returning issued to the first respondent, Mr. Odey was illegal and hence, should be re-issued to the second respondent, Mr. Agom.
It will be recalled that Mr. Odey was issued a Certificate of Return by the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Cross River State shortly after the elections, but, following the decision of the High Court of the FCT, Mr. Agom was issued a certificate of return with the President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmad Lawan, refusing to swear him in.
This lingered despite the Supreme Court resolving the issue of the delegate list in favor of Mr. Jarigbe’s faction of the PDP then and later insisting that he was the duly nominated candidate.
But, being a pre-election matter, the issues became subsumed in the Elections Petition Tribunal where the Chairman, Justice Yusuf Ubale Mohammad; Member 1, Justice John Olajide Abe and Member 2, Justice Ngele Gilbert Alo in their judgment delivered on June 18, 2021 in petition number EPT/CR/SEN/03/2020 said the PDP won the elections.
And, the Court of Appeal set aside the tribunal ruling and resolved all issues against the appellants and in favor of the second respondent, Mr. Agom.
Below are the orders made by the Court of Appeal…
1. That the 4th Respondent Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is hereby Ordered to issue the Certificate of Return wrongly withdrawn from the 2nd Respondent Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe immediately.
2. That the Certificate of return issued to the 1st Respondent Stephen Adi Odey illegally stands withdrawn
3. That in the premise, there is no merit in Appeal No CA/C/NAEA/SEN/167/2021 all the issues having been resolved against the Appellants.
4. That Appeal No CA/C/NAEA/SEN/167/2021 is accordingly dismissed.
5. That the Judgment of the Lower Tribunal in Petition No EPT/CR/SEN/03/2020 delivered on the 18th day of June 2021, is hereby set aside.
6. That even though the three appeals are consolidated, Appeal No. CA/C/NAEA/SEN/168/2021 is hereby dismissed also.
7. That Appeal No. CA/C/NAEA/SEN/169/2021 is hereby allowed
8. That I make no Order as to cost.
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