An Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Calabar, has upheld the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Dr. Stephen Odey, in the Cross River North Senatorial District by-election.
The tribunal struck out the two suits of appeal filed by Joe Agi (SAN) for lacking in merit and held that they were pre-election matters that could be determined by the High Courts.
Agi had filed a petition to wit that the 1st and 2nd respondents (Odey and Jarigbe Agom) were not qualified to contest the Cross River North Senatorial by-election held on December 5, 2020, as they were not validly sponsored by the 3rd respondent (PDP) and did not also participate in all stages of the election.
He also said that contrary to Section 285 (13) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria and Section 141 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the 4th respondent proceeded to return them on December 6, 2020, and December 18, 2020, respectively; and that the 1st respondent submitted the 4th respondent affidavit containing false information of the fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the election.
In its verdict, the tribunal ruled that “as for the evidence before the tribunal, the first petitioner alleged that the 3rd respondent sponsored two candidates for the senatorial by-election for Cross Rivers State north which led to the issuance of two certificates of return, 1st to Odey on 6th of December, 2020 and another to Jarigbe Agom on February 18, 2021.”
The tribunal submitted that the 2nd respondent, Jarigbe Agom was not a candidate in the election and that the certificate of return issued to him by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was
wrongfully done and should be discountenanced.
It added that “It is not possible for INEC to hear someone who has not submitted form CF001 and CF 002 as the nomination process is complete only when the Commission receives the necessary documents – see the decision in PDM Vs INEC 2020. On the whole, we hold that there is no evidence before us to destroy the return of the first respondent as the duly elected senator represented Cross River North. We have studied exhibits A22, the judgement of the Court of Appeal and we could not find where a Certificate of Return issued to the first respondent is nullified and as such the issuance of the 2nd certificate of return to the 2nd respondent by INEC is wrongful and hereby discountenanced.”