Bye-Elections: Tribunal commence seating on Joe Agi's petition, strikes out 2 others
...adjourns to Monday Feb. 22nd
By Our Admin
The inaugural session to signal the commencement of seating by the National and State Houses of Assembly election petition tribunal which follows the bye-elections held in Cross River State on December 5, 2020 commenced on Wednesday in Calabar.
The 3 man tribunal presided over by Justice Yusuf Ubale Muhammad as Chairman and Justices John Olajide Abe and Ngele Gilbert Alo as members one and two respectively welcomed parties with cases before them to court. In his inaugural speech, the tribunal chairman announced that three petitions were initially received and filed before the Tribunal following the December 5, 2020 Bye-election conducted for the seat of Northern Senatorial district of Cross River State.
According to him, "the petition N0: EPT/CR/SEN/01/2020 filed by Allied Peoples Movement(APM) against INEC & 2Ors was withdrawn and therefore struck out on the 12th of January, 2021 following amicable settlement between the parties thereat."
Another motion "seeking to withdraw the second Petition N0: EPT/CR/SEN/02/2020 filed by Gregory Agam and the African Democratic Congress Vs Stephen Adi Odey & 3 Ors was taken today and struck out following amicable settlement between the parties thereat."
After that, the tribunal took on the third petition N0: EPT/CR/SEN/03/2020 filed by Joe Odey Agi and the All Progressive Congress Vs. Stephen Adi Odey & 3 Ors for pre- hearing. However the pre-hearing was stalled after counsel to the petitioner, Muhammad Shiebu noted that he had received respondents' reply from the second to fourth respondents namely, Hon. Jerigbe Agom Jerigbe (2nd), Independent National Electoral Commission- INEC (3rd), and People's Democratic Party (4th) but was yet to receive the reply from the 1st respondent - Stephen Odey.
At the instance of the counsel to Stephen Odey of the PDP, Mr. Offiong Offiong Esq the tribunal and parties in the case accepted the plead for an adjournment to enable him to file the 1st respondent's reply to the petition.
The tribunal subsequently adjourned the case to Monday, February 22nd, 2021 for pre-hearing.
Justice Yusuf Muhammad in his inaugural address had noted that "one is bound to bring to the notice of all stakeholders regarding delays in dealing with the cases before the tribunal."
"We are determined to ensure that justice will indeed be served on the parties before the tribunal and no petition will expire before it proper determination within 180 days from the date it was filed."
Legal experts explained that the petition by Joe Agi SAN of the APC is one of the crucial matters often called a double-deck petition being that INEC declared PDP winner of the election at the time the party had two candidates claiming candidacy.
Stephen Odey had since been issued certificate of return by INEC and sworn in by the Senate but a recent pre-election case in the Appeal Court ruled that Hon. Jerigbe Agom Jerigbe was the authentic candidate of the PDP. That judgment has been appealed to the Supreme Court and Judgement has been reserved to a date yet to be communicated to the parties concern.
The actual representative as the Senator representing the Cross River Northern Senatorial district in the National Assembly will be known at the final dispensation of all the re-election cases and the election petition case.