By Theophilus Umanna
The Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar has declared Mr Jarigbe Agom as the duly elected Senator for Cross River North Senatorial District.
A three-man panel of justices, led by Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme, made the declaration in a ruling on Friday in the Cross River State capital.
Three appeals – CA/C/NAEA/SEN/167/2021, CA/C/NAEA/SEN/168/2021, and CA/C/NAEA/SEN/169/2021 – were filed to challenge the decision of the National and State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal delivered on June 18, 2021.
Listed as the appellants were Joe Agi and the All Progressives Congress (APC), while Odey, Jarigbe, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were the first, second, third, and fourth respondents.
The appellate court heard the briefs of arguments filed and exchanged by parties in the appeals, as well as the submissions of the counsels representing the appellants and the defendants in the suits.
By the decision, it sacked Senator Stephen Odey who represents the senatorial district in the National Assembly and declared Jarigbe as the lawful PDP candidate in the Cross River North Senatorial District by-election conducted by INEC on December 5, 2020.
While ruling on the petition marked EPT/CR/SEN/03/2020, the Tribunal which had Justice Yusuf Mohammad as chairman as well as Justice John Abe and Justice Ngele Alo as members, had ordered INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return earlier issued to Jarigbe and issue same to Odey.
But the appellate court set aside the decision of the Tribunal, saying it was wrong to order the withdrawal of the Certificate of Return earlier issued to Jarigbe.
As a result, it invalidated the Certificate of Return issued to Senator Odey by INEC and directed the electoral empire to withdraw it.
The court, however, noted that the there was not merit in the appeal marked CA/C/NAEA/SEN/167/2021, as all the issues raised had been resolved against the appellants.
It added that although the three appeals were consolidated, the appeals marked CA/C/NAEA/SEN/167/2021 and CA/C/NAEA/SEN/168/2021 were dismissed accordingly.
The appellate court, however, allowed the appeal marked CA/C/NAEA/SEN/169/2021, and made no order as to cost.