Tribunal dismisses APC’s petition against Ayade’s election


…I dedicate victory to God, Cross Riverians, Ayade
The Cross River State Elections Petition Tribunal has dismissed the petition filled by the All Progressives Congress against the election of Professor Ben Ayade of the People’s Democratic Party.
The tribunal presided over by Justice Josiah Majebi held that professor Ben Ayade was validly elected as governor of the state earlier this year and stressed that the allegation by the APC cannot be proven.
Senator John Owan-Enoh of the All Progressive Congress,APC, who was the gubernatorial candidate of the party had argued that he was validly nominated by his party but wrongfully excluded by the second respondent, INEC from the said election.
Senator Owan-Enoh therefore, approached the tribunal seeking for nullification of the election because the governor, Ben Ayade, was erroneously declared winner of the said election by the electoral umpire, INEC.
Delivering judgment on the said petition with reference number EPT/CAL/Gov/1/2019 on Thursday, September 22, 2019, on Moore Road Calabar, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Josiah Majebi, said the first and second grounds of the petition were irreconcilable and mutually exclusive.
He said in the first place the petitioner had failed to seek redress within legally specified 14 days allowed for complaints.
The tribunal strongly disagreed with the petitioner that he was wrongfully excluded by the second respondent, INEC, stressing that much of the grievances expressed in the petitioner were pre-election matters which his tribunal has no jurisdiction to entertainment.
“Any disputes within a given political party which stands election before actual election such as nomination or withdrawal or exclusion are pre-election issues. Our mandates don’t cover them. Therefore, such are ineffective grounds. We, therefore, strike them and such others out for incompetence.”
The tribunal also held that there were multiplicity of litigations by interested parties of the APC regarding the governorship election which complicated the petition.
The judge said they have carefully considered the applications, written addresses and counter responses by the respondents, and have overruled many views of the petitioner as lacking in merit and gross abuse of court processes. He said the petition is academic, hypothetical, and frivolous.
“The petitioner’s allegation that he was excluded from the election yet he scored valid votes of 131,161 takes his petition contradictory
“Having painstakingly and profoundly looked over the submissions and considered several legal authorities, we hereby reject entire evidences given by the petitioner, and dismiss the petition as lacking in merit.
“We resolved the matter in favour of the first respondent. Consequently, we here declared that Prof Benedict Ayade was duly elected on 9 !March 2019 as the governor of Cross River State”, Justice Majebi said.
Reacting to the tribunal judgment, Governor Ben Ayade said he has dedicated the victory to God and the people of Cross River State.
Ayade, who described the tribunal judgement as a mere reaffirmation of his resounding victory at the March 9, 2019 governorship poll, said he was not surprised at the verdict since his victory was never in doubt.
Speaking through Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Christian Ita, shortly, after the tribunal upheld his election, he said: “As I did when I won the governorship election of March 9, by dedicating my victory to God, the great people of Cross River State and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) family, let me once again rededicate today’s tribunal verdict which explicitly reinforced the will of the people to them.
“I had no doubt that I would emerge victorious at the tribunal. I have never lost faith or confidence in our judicial system. I was very confident that the tribunal would be diligent and upright in determining the petitions brought before it and it did just that today and I am happy, Cross Riverians are happy and I am sure that even the petitioners will be happy that the tribunal has acquitted itself.”
The lead counsel to Sen John Owan Eno, Andrew Essien, Esq, could not comment on the matter.
But the Cross Tiver chairman of APC, Mr Jihn Ochalla, said: “The decision is rather unfortunate.
Justice is walking on its head, but we will definitely test the so called judgment.”
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