The Supreme Court will deliver judgment by 1pm on Thursday, February 25, 2021, in the dispute over who, between Senator Stephen Odey and Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, is the authentic candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the December 5, 2020 by-election in Cross River North Senatorial District.
Information to that effect was conveyed to parties on Wednesday, February 24, 2021, via hearing notices sent from the Registry of the Supreme Court.
A seven-man panel of the apex court, headed by Justice Musa Daitjo Mohammad had, on February 15, 2021 heard the appeal, marked: SC/CV/9/2021 filed by Odey, with John Alaga, Jarigbe, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as respondents, and announced that the date for judgment would be communicated to parties.
At the proceedings of February, the court, upon the agreement of lawyers to parties, elected to apply the judgment in the appeal by Odey to a similar appeal, marked: SC/CV/1055/2020 filed by the PDP.
Adopting the appellant’s brief, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who led Odey’s legal team, urged the court to discountenance the objections raised against the appeal by the Alaga and Jarigbe, proceed to allow the appeal and grant the reliefs sought.
Samuel Ologunorisa (SAN), Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) and Agada Elachi, lawyers to Agada, Jarigbe and INEC, faulted the competence of the appeal and prayed the court to dismiss it for lacking in merit.
In the appeal, Odey is praying the Supreme Court to, among others, set aside a portion of the judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal, Abuja on December 17, 2020 directing INEC to recognise Jarigbe as the candidate of the PDP for the by-election.
Odey stated that his party, the PDP conducted its primary election on September 5, 2020 preparatory to the December 5, 2020 by-election.
He added that he won the primary election of the party with 450 votes, while Jarigbe scored 90 votes, subsequent upon Jarigbe sued at the Federal High Court, Port-Harcourt to challenge the outcome of the primary election.
He said the suit by Jarigbe, marked: FHC/PHC/CS/137/200 was later transferred to the Calabar division of the Federal High Court and renumbered: FHC/CA/CS/105/2020.
Odey added that, while Jarigbe’s case was pending, he (Odey) sued the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in the suit marked: FHC/CA/CS/87/2020 for delaying to publish his name as the PDP’s candidate, weeks after the party submitted his name to it (INEC) as the winner of the primary.
He stated that the Federal High Court, Calabar delivered its judgments in both cases on December 3, 2020 affirming him as the authentic PDP candidate, while the court struck out Jarigbe’s case for want of jurisdiction.
Odey said the Federal High Court proceeded to make an order of perpetual injunction, restraining INEC from interfering with his candidacy.
He said based on the court’s decision, he contested the by-election of December 5, 2020 as the candidate of the PDP and was declared the winner by INEC, following which he was sworn in on December 16, 2020 at the Senate as the Senator representing Cross River North Senatorial District.
Odey said he was shocked to learn the next day (December 17, 2020) that the Court of Appeal, Abuja upheld an order made by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja directing INEC to accept Jarigbe as the candidate of the PDP for the same election he won and on which basis he was inaugurated as a Senator.
He stated that unknown to him, while they were before the Federal High Court, Calabar, in respect of the suit by Jarigbe, challenging the outcome of the primary election, an ally of Jarigbe, John Alaga filed a suit before the High Court of FCT on October 5, 2020, claiming that Jarigbe won the primary, but that he should be disqualified for submitting forged certificates to INEC.
In a judgment on November 14, 2020, Justice Bintu Mohammed of the High Court of the FCT, dismissed the suit by Alaga, marked: CV/77/2020, on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to establish his case.
Odey stated that rather than stop at just dismissing the suit, Justice Mohammed proceeded to make consequential orders, including that directing INEC to recognise Jarigbe as the candidate of the PDP, a decision Alaga appealed to the Court of Appeal, Abuja.
He stated that the Court of Appeal, in its judgment in the appeal by Alaga delivered on December 17, 2020, agreed with the High Court that the suit was without merit, but failed to set aside the consequential orders made by the trial court without jurisdiction.
In his appeal, Odey further faulted the Court of Appeal for refusing to set aside the consequential orders, despite finding that the PDP, the party, whose candidate’s fate was being determined, was not made a party at the High Court and that the suit, being a pre-election matter, was filed by Alaga after the 14 days allowed.
Odey added that the Court of Appeal, in its December 17, 2020 judgment, “refused to set aside the consequential orders made by the trial court, despite finding that the case was a crass abuse of judicial process and that the court has no jurisdiction to entertain same.
“It is the failure to set aside the consequential orders that is the central and sole focus of this appeal,” he said.
Source: The Nation