BusinessCourt of appeal sacks Cross River North senator

Court of appeal sacks Cross River North senator

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The Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar has declared Mr Jarigbe Agom as the duly elected Senator for Cross River North Senatorial District.

The court in its ruling declared him the lawful candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in the December 5, 2020 bye-election for the vacant seat.

A 3-man panel of justices, headed by Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme, made the declaration in a ruling on Friday in the Cross River State capital.

Three appeals – CA/C/NAEA/SEN/167/2021, CA/C/NAEA/SEN/168/2021, and CA/C/NAEA/SEN/169/2021 – were filed to challenge the decision of the National and State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal delivered on June 18, 2021.

Those that were listed as the appellants include Joe Agi and the All Progressives Congress (APC), while Odey, Jarigbe, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were the first, second, third, and fourth respondents.

The appellate court heard the briefs of arguments filed and exchanged by parties in the appeals, as well as the submissions of the counsels representing the appellants and the defendants in the suits.

By the decision, it sacked Senator Stephen Odey who represents the senatorial district in the National Assembly and declared Jarigbe as the lawful PDP candidate in the Cross River North Senatorial District by-election conducted by INEC on December 5, 2020.

While ruling on the petition marked EPT/CR/SEN/03/2020, the Tribunal which had Justice Yusuf Mohammad as chairman as well as Justice John Abe and Justice Ngele Alo as members, had ordered INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return earlier issued to Jarigbe and issue same to Odey.
But the appellate court set aside the decision of the Tribunal, saying it was wrong to order the withdrawal of the Certificate of Return earlier issued to Jarigbe.

As a result, it invalidated the Certificate of Return issued to Senator Odey by INEC and directed the electoral umpire to withdraw it.
The court, however, noted that there was no merit in the appeal marked CA/C/NAEA/SEN/167/2021, as all the issues raised had been resolved against the appellants.

What you should know

It can be recalled that earlier in July, 2021, Senator Steven Odey, Joe Agi (SAN) and Agom Jarigbe approached the court of appeal to challenge the election tribunal judgment which affirmed Odey as the winner of the December 5, 2020 by-election for the Cross River North senatorial district.

Odey and Jarigbe are both of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), while Agi was the undisputed candidate of the All Progressive Congress in the by-election. The tribunal judgment was delivered on June 18, 2021.

Despite the decision being in his favour, Odey contended that there were particulars of error in the judgment, relating to the allegation of submission of false information in aid of his qualification.

On his part, Jarigbe asked the appellate court to determine who was the rightful candidate of the PDP in the by-election and asked that he should be declared duly nominated and sponsored in the by-election as well as a declaration that the certificate of return issued Odey is a nullity.

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