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Senatorial by-election: Drama as 2 candidates claim PDP ticket

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By Joseph Kingston, Calabar

The Federal High Court in Calabar and the Abuja High Court have declared two different contenders as winners of the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for Cross River North senatorial race slated for Saturday, December 5, 2020.

The Federal High Court in Calabar had, on Thursday, in a suit with number FHC/CA/CS/87/2020, presided over by Justice Simon A. Amobeda, declared Dr Stephen Odey as PDP candidate for the election.

Same Thursday, another ruling from the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, in suit No. CV/77/2020, and presided over by Justice Binta Mohammed, said Hon Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe was the duly elected candidate of the party.

Justice Amodeba had said he was relying on “relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), provisions of the Electoral Act, 2020, and Articles of the People’s Democratic Party Guidelines for the conduct of its primaries,” for his decision. He ordered INEC to publish the name of Dr Odey as the duly nominated candidate of the PDP, saying that INEC “is compelled and bound by law to publish the name of the 1st defendant (Dr Stephen Odey), who was validly nominated by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and whose name was submitted by the PDP to INEC to contest the Cross River North Senatorial District bye-election now scheduled to hold on the 5th day of December 2020.”

It also granted a perpetual restraining order on INEC, “either by themselves, agents, privies or surrogates from doing anything whatsoever and however, that will adversely affect the candidature of the plaintiff (Dr Stephen Odey) to contest the Cross River North Senatorial District bye election on the platform  of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.”

INEC had complied with the ruling and accordingly, included Dr Odey’s name as the candidate for the election in its list, but stated clearly that Odey’s inclusion was as a result of a court order.

On his part, Justice Mohammed of the Abuja High Court directed INEC, which was sued as the second defendant, to include and publish the name of Hon. Jarigbe on the list of candidates for the bye election.

She further ordered INEC to give Hon. Jarigbe every other rights and privileges pertaining to his lawful qualification and nomination as the PDP candidate. But, as at the time of this report, INEC was yet to substitute Odey’s name for Jarigbe’s, neither did the election umpire take a final stand on the seeming stalemate.

Since September 5, 2020, primary election of the PDP, there had been a plethora of legal tussles culminating in the ’emergence’ of the two candidates.

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