Election Tribunal delivers five more judgments, dismisses all APC petitions in Cross River
The Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Calabar has delivered judgements on five petitions filed by candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River State against the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, challenging the outcome of the 2019 General Elections to different seats of the National Assembly.
The Chairman of a 3 man (second panel) led by Justice A. A. Babawale with Justice S. B. Shuaibu and Justice M. C.Okoh on Thursday dismissed the petitions of APC in favour of PDP.
The petitions were in suits no EPT/CAL/S/09/2019 between Wabilly Nyiam of APC versus Senator Rose Oko of the PDP (Cross River North Senatorial district); EPT/CAL/HR/06/2019 Jude Ngaji of APC versus Hon. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe of the PDP, (Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency); EPT/CAL/HR/07/2019 Mkpanam Obo-Bassey Ekpo of the APC versus Hon. Daniel Asuquo of the PDP, (Akamkpa/Biase Federal constituency).
The other, EPT/CAL/HR/08/2019 Akibe Ekpenyong of the APC versus Rt. Hon. Eta Mbora and another (Odukpani/Calabar Municipal Federal Constituency); and EPT/CAL/HR/10/2019 between Dominic Aqua-Edem of APC versus Hon. Essien Ayi, (Bakassi/Calabar South/Akpabuyo Federal Constituency).
The first, second and fifth judgments; EPT/CAL/S/09/2019, EPT/CAL/HR/06/2019, and EPT/CAL/HR/10/2019 were read by the chairman of the tribunal Justice A. A. Babawale.
Justice S.B. Shuaibu read the judgment in suit number EPT/CAL/HR/07/2019 while Justice M. C. Okoh read the judgment in suit number EPT/CAL/HR/08/2019.
In upholding the elections of the PDP candidates, the tribunal maintained that APC should blame itself for what has befallen them because it was the unresolved internal dispute within the ranks of the party that gave rise to the Federal High Judgment which order remained valid and was obeyed by INEC.
Issues addressed in all the judgments were similar as stated by the judges noting that the crux of the petition was the petitioners complain that they were unlawfully excluded from participating in the elections held on February 23rd by the actions of the second respondent- the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC.
The tribunal held that the delisting of APC candidates by INEC on the eve of the polls was not unlawful as contended by the petitioners because the judgment of the federal high court in suit number FHC/C/73/2018 remained valid and was bound to be obeyed as constitutionally provided.
The judges of the second panel however slightly differed from those of panel one in their conclusions concerning the jurisdiction of the tribunal to entertain the exclusion matter being the crux of the petitioner. While the first panel which sat on the previous Wednesday contended that the exclusion prayed by the petitioners qualifies for a pre-election case and declined jurisdiction, the second panel agreed with the petitioner that the election tribunal has jurisdiction to entertain their case as it qualifies for a post-election matter. However, all the five petitions of the APC were dismissed on the single reason that the exclusion of their candidates in Cross River State by INEC was done lawfully in obedience to a valid court order.
They noted that the Appeal court only set aside the federal high court judgment after the delisting had been carried out and the elections conducted. Again, the tribunal chairman reiterated that APC should install discipline in its ranks and blame itself, not INEC for the loss in Cross River State.