From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Confusion has continued to trail the Cross River North senatorial bye-election with a federal court granting an order stopping the swearing-in of Dr Stephen Odey as the new Senator for the district.
Rt Hon Jarigbe Agom Jarighe, member representing Ogoja/Yala federal constituency, and Dr Stephen Odey, Chairman of Cross River State Universal Education Board, have been locked in a legal battles for months as both of them have claimed to be the authentic winner of the elelction.
INEC had on Sunday, December 6, declared Dr Stephen Odey as the winner of Saturday, December 5 by-election held at Ogoja for the northern senatorial zone, having polled 129,207 votes to defeat the candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Joe Again, SAN, who scored 19,165 votes to place second.
And on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, INEC had issued a certificate of return to Odey as the authentic winner.
But Hon Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe and his campaign organisation had rejected the result shortly after that the announcement, and headed for an Abuja Federal High Court to seek for redress.
In a suit NO: FCT/HC/BW/M/633/2020 and before Justice OA Musa of the High Courr of FCT in Abuja Judicial Division, Jarigbe’s counsel Everestus U Chinedum, Esq, prayed the court for an OLorder of interim injunction restraining INEC from issuing a certificate of return or swearing-in by way of admittance of the Dr Stephen Odey or any other person in his stead as the senator, representing the Cross River State North senatorial district, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive motion on notice.
The case is between Hon Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe and INEC, Clerk of NASS, the Senate President and Chief John Alagha.
And after l listening to Everestus U Chinedum, Esq, of counsel to the Applicant (Jarigbe), the court granted the order restraining the defendants more particularly INEC and Senate from swearing-in Dr Stephen Odey and adjourned tohe case to December 17 for hearing of motion on notice which is already filed before this court.
However, in compliance with the Court order, the Senate Presidemt, Ahmed Lawan, refused to swear-in Dr Stephen Odey as the new Senatoe representing Cross River northern senatorial district today.
This development has casued confusion among PDP stalwarts in the state as most of them are worried that the in-fighting would destroy the party completely.
Expressing dismay at the turn of events, the Coordinator of Movement for the Restoration of Cross River PDP, (MFTROCR), Raymond Takom, said if care is not taken PDP may lose out the senatorial seat as APC and its candidate, Joe Agi, SAN, are studying the matter with an aim to approaching the court praying that they be declared winner since PDP has no candidate.
Takom said the battle for the control of PDP has got to the climax that it is high time critical stakeholders intervened to save the situation, adding that party activities are almost dead in the state.
Also decrying the division, a member of the state caretaker committee of the party, said it is becoming an embarrassment for brothers to fight to the level that the ‘combatants’ are not ready to shift grounds.
The party official, who doesn’t want his name in print, called on the Dr Bukola Saraki-led reconcialiation committee to intervene urgently before the party disintegrates in the northern part of the state, maintaining that it would be a bad politics if PDP loses the senatorial to rival APC.
He said: ‘We had thought that the in-fighting had ended with the INEC’s presentation of certificate of return to Dr Stephen Odey
‘But we were shocked that when we got to floor of the Senate today, Odey was not sworn-in, while four new senators were sworn-in. It was a big embarrassment to those of us who paid our way to Abuja to witness the event,’ he said.