The Election Petitions Tribunal has fixed hearing for Tuesday in a petition filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Joe Agi, SAN, against the factional candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was declared winner of the Cross River North Senatorial District poll.
The PDP has two candidates, instead of one, laying claim to the seat. They are Senator Steve Odey, who was earlier declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and sworn in by the Senate and Jerigbe Agom Jerigbe, who secured a judgment in a pre-election case affirming him as the actual candidate of the PDP.
While delivering a pre-hearing report on the petition number: EPT/CR/SEN/03/2020, the Chairman of the three-man election tribunal, Justice Yusuf Muhammad, last Friday said that during the pre-hearing period, four applications were taken; three of which judgments were reserved to be taken along with the final judgment on the petition.
The fourth pre-hearing application for which ruling was given on March 11 was in favour of the APC candidate, who was granted leave to amend his petition and fill some typographical gaps left out in his petition.
That application was not opposed to by the respondents. According to the pre-hearing report, hearing will start from March 16 to April 2, and the sitting will be on a daily basis, accept on Sundays, the tribunal chairman said.
He added: “During the hearing period, the petitioner will have seven days to present his case. The respondents will have 10 days to make their counter arguments.”
The 10 days for the respondents are allocated as follows- first respondent being Steve Odey, four days, second respondent being Jerigbe Agom Jerigbe, three days; the PDP being the third respondent, two days and INEC being the fourth respondent, one day.”
Justice Muhammad said the tribunal was committed to ensuring that the assignment before them was dispensed with within the timetable given.
He urged the counsel to abide by the report of the pre-hearing.
TOS News gathered that Agi is seeking to be declared the winner of the by-election as the first runner-up, being that at the time of the election, the PDP had no known candidate and none of the two persons laying claim to its ticket participated in the election processes as expected by the law.
The respondents, on the other hand and through their pre-hearing applications, argued that the petitioner is not challenging the result of the election; but the status of the candidature of the PDP, which falls under matters to be considered as pre-election issues and as such should be dismissed as lacking in merit.