From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal on Tuesday rejected an application by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) seeking a stay of execution of it’s judgment declaring Jarigbe Agom as the duly elected candidate of the Party for the Cross River North senatorial bye election that held on Saturday, December 5, 2020.
The appellant court equally refused the application by the Party seeking to be joined in the legal dispute.
Meanwhile, the Court has however joined Senator Stephen Odeh as an interested party to the appeal to enable challenge the December 17, 2020 judgment at the Supreme Court.
Dr. Odeh is the current occupant of the disputed senatorial seat.
Justice Peter Ige had in his judgment declared Agom as the validly elected candidate of the PDP for the Cross River North senatorial by election that was held on Saturday, December 5, 2020.
Not satisfied with the judgment, the PDP brought an application praying for a stay of execution of the judgment.
But in his ruling, Justice Stephen Adah declined the request including it’s application seeking for joinder in the legal dispute.
On the other hand, the court granted the joinder application brought by the current occupant of the disputed senatorial seat, Senator Odeh seeking to be joined in the appeal as an interested party and to enable him challenge the judgment at the court of appeal.
The appellant court agreed with Odeh that as a sitting Senator for the Cross River North Senatorial seat, the outcome of the case will affect his interest one way or the other.
Justice Binta Mohammed of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had in her judgment declared Jarigbe as the valid candidate of the party for the senatorial bye election.
Dissatisfied, his challenger, John Alaga approached the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment of the trial court.
However, in a unanimous judgment, the appellate court dismissed the appeal as frivolous, vexatious and abuse of court process.
Justice Peter Ige held that having not participated in the primary election of the party, the appellant lacked the locus standi to institute the suit.
The appellant lacked the locus standi to institute the suit in the first place. I wonder why the trial court did not make pronouncement on this. Only a person who participated in the primary election or a political party that has the power to challenge the outcome of the election and not a third party who did not participate in the election.
” There is no evidence before the court that the appellant participated in the primary election. He only exhibited his party card and no other exhibit. The action of the appellant is a cross abuse of the court process.
Justice Ige further held that the facts stated by the respondents to the appeal in their affidavit evidence are well founded and have not been contradicted by the appellant.
“The materials put forward by the 1st and 2nd respondents have dislodged the evidence adduced by the appellant.
The court also held that the appellant did not prove allegations of forgery which is criminal in nature and needed to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.”
The court accordingly dismissed the appeal for lacking in.merit and award a cost of N250, 000 against the appellant in favour of the 1st respondent and N100,000 in favour of the 2nd defendant.
In his suit No. CV/77/2020, the claimant, John Alaga had urged the court to disqualify the candidature of Jarigbe on strength of the alleged false information and other allegations.
But in his judgment, Justice Mohammed sitting in court 27, Apo division of the FCT High Court held that the claimant has failed to prove his case.
Justice Binta Mohammed had in her judgment, held that contrary to the claim of the claimant, John Alaga, the defendant (Jarigbe) did not supply any false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in his INEC Form CF001 by purporting to have sat for / and or obtained educational qualification making him eligible to contest for the Cross River North Senatorial Bye election.
The court also held that the Cross River North Senatorial primary election of the PDP wherein Jarigbe (1st defendant) was nominated as the Senatorial candidate was conducted with the authentic list of the Ward and Local Government Area Executives of the party.
Justice Mohammed further held that “the first defendant having won the highest number of valid votes at the said primary election is validly nominated as the candidate of the PDP for the Cross River North Senatorial Bye election scheduled to hold on October 31, 2020 or any other date.
That the primary election of the PDP for the Cross River North Senatorial held on September 5, 2020, was duly nominated by INEC (2nd defendant) and therefore valid and in accordance with the law.
The Court therefore directed INEC, sued as the second Defendant, to include and publish the name of Hon. Jarigbe on the list of candidates for the bye election scheduled for 5th December, 2020. The INEC was also further ordered to give Hon. Jarigbe every other rights and privileges pertaining to his lawful qualification and nomination as the PDP candidate.