Appeal Court gives reasons for judgment on C’River North senatorial seat
By Joseph Kingston, Calabar
The Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar has said it declared the House of Representatives member, Hon Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, as the Senator-elect for Cross River North Senatorial District because the Supreme Court had earlier in its judgment pronounced Jarigbe as the authentic candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in the December 5, 2020 bye-election.
Recall that Dr. Stephen Odey and Hon. Jarigbe had laid claims to the PDP ticket for the senatorial by-election in which the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, recognized Dr. Odey was the candidate of the party and issued him a Certificate of Return. He was subsequently sworn in by the Senate.
But in its judgment, the 3-man Appeal panel headed by Hon. Justice Chioma I. Nwosu, in Suit No CAL/C/NAEA/SEN/167/2021, voided the Certificate of Return earlier issued to Senator Odey, and therefore ordered INEC to issue another Certificate of Return to Hon. Jarigbe.
The Appellate Court which stated that Hon. Jarigbe was the authentic candidate of the PDP in the bye-election said that the election tribunal erred by making a resolution in an area it had no jurisdiction.
It further said it was an error for the tribunal to jettison the decision of the Supreme Court on the authentic candidate of the PDP.
“On Appeal Against the Judgment of the National and State House of Assembly Election Tribunal for Cross River State Northern Senatorial District Bye-Election held on the 5th day of December 2020 in Petition No. EPT/CR/SEN/03/2020 delivered on the 18th day of June, 2021 by Honourable Justice Yusuf Ubale Mohammad Chairman, Hon. Justice John Olajide Abe member 1 and Hon Justice Ngele Gilbert Alo, member 2.
“And after hearing all the Counsel representing all the parties to the Appeals, it is hereby ordered as follows: That the 4th Respondent, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue the Certificate of Return wrongly withdrawn from the 2nd respondent, Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, immediately.
“That the Certificate of Return issued to the 1st Respondent, Stephen Adi Odey illegally, stands withdrawn. That in the premise, there is no merit in Appeal No CA/C/NAEA/SEN/167/2021 all the issues having been resolved against the Appellants.
“It is our humble and firm view that the issue calls for consideration whether the tribunal was right to jettison the decision of the High Court, Appeal Court and Supreme Court and declare the 1st Respondent (Odey) as validly elected.
“The tribunal is bound by the decisions of superior courts on the same issue. The law does not allow the tribunal to take a different position as the law has already affirmed that Hon. Jarigbe is the candidate validly sponsored.
“The Election Tribunal has no right to determine the candidate of the party as it is a pre- election issue. We are bound by the decisions of previous courts and return Jarigbe as the Senator-elect for Cross River North,” the judgment read in part.