Jarigbe vs Odey: Anxiety In Cross River As Supreme Court Hears Suit On Northen Senatorial Bye-Election

 

In an appeal lodged by Senator Stephen Adi Odey against the ruling of the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court scheduled a hearing for Monday to annul his candidacy in the last by-election in the Cross River North Senatorial District, Cross River State.

It was learned that the apex court would hear certain motions filed by two respondents, John Alaga and Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, querying the appeal’s competence.

On Wednesday, due to his inability to conduct personal service, the Supreme Court granted the appellant’s request for permission to represent the respondents by substituted means.

Odey, in the appeal marked: SC/CV/9/2021 asking the court to set aside portions of the judgment issued by the Court of Appeal, Abuja annulled his candidacy on 17 December 2020 and appointed Jarigbe as the nominee of the Democratic People’s Party in his place (PDP).

Odey, represented by Wole Olanipekun (SAN), said that on September 5, 2020, his party, the PDP, held its primary election in preparation for the December 5, 2020 by-election.

The appellant declared that, with 450 votes, he won, while Jarigbe scored 90 votes, after Jarigbe sued Port-Harcourt in the Federal High Court to contest the outcome of the primary election.

He claimed that Jarigbe’s case, marked: FHC/PHC/CS/137/200, was later transferred to the Federal High Court’s Calabar Division and renumbered: FHC/CA/CS/105/2020.

Odey added that while the case of Jarigbe was pending, in the suit marked: FHC/CA/CS/87/2020 he also sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for delaying publication of his name as the candidate of the PDP, weeks after the party submitted his name to it (INEC) as the primary winner.

He claimed that on December 3, 2020, Calabar delivered its judgments in both cases to the Federal High Court, affirming him as the genuine PDP nominee, while the court struck out the case of Jarigbe for lack of jurisdiction.
Odey said that an order of perpetual injunction was made by the Federal High Court, restraining INEC from intervening with his candidacy.

He said he contested the by-election of December 5, 2020 as the PDP candidate on the basis of the court’s decision and was declared the winner by INEC, after which he was sworn in as the Senator representing the Cross River North Senatorial District on December 16, 2020 in the Senate.

Odey said he was surprised to learn the next day (December 17, 2020) that Abuja, the Court of Appeal, upheld an order by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, ordering Abuja to order INEC to recognize Jarigbe as the PDP nominee for the same election he won and on which basis he was inaugurated as a Senator.

He claimed that while he was before the Federal High Court, Calabar, questioning the result of the primary election by Jarigbe, an associate of Jarigbe, while they were before the Federal High Court, John Alaga filed a lawsuit before the High Court of FCT on October 5, 2020, alleging that Jarigbe had won the primary, but that he should be barred from submitting forged certificates to INEC.

In a judgment of 14 November 2020, Justice Bintu Mohammed, of the FCT High Court, dismissed the action brought by Alaga, marked as: CV/77/2020, on the ground that the petitioner had not formed his case.

Odey claimed that Justice Mohammed continued to make consequential orders, including that directing INEC to accept Jarigbe as the PDP nominee, instead of stopping merely dismissing the case, a decision Alaga appealed to the Court of Appeal, Abuja.

He claimed that in its judgment in the appeal delivered by Alaga on December 17, 2020, the Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court that the action was without substance, but refused to set aside the consequential orders rendered without jurisdiction by the trial court.

Odey further faulted the Court of Appeal in his appeal for refusing to set aside the consequential orders, despite finding that the PDP, the party whose fate was decided by the candidate, was not a party to the High Court and that, after the 14 days required, Alaga filed the lawsuit, which was a pre-election matter.

“Odey added that, in its decision of 17 December last year, the Court of Appeal “refused to set aside the consequential orders given by the court of appeal, despite finding that the case was a gross misuse of judicial proceedings and that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the same.

“The central and sole focus of this appeal is the failure to set aside the consequential instructions,” he said.

 

Jarigbe vs Odey: Anxiety In Cross River As Supreme Court Hears Suit On Northen Senatorial Bye-Election

 

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