Stephen Odey Insists He Is The Senator Even As INEC Had Withdrawn His Certificate Of Return and Given It To Jarigbe
The Senate’s failure to enforce the Supreme Court’s lead judgment in the Cross River North Senatorial by-election on February 25, 2021 has raised questions, as various claims have been advanced for and against it.
Following Senator Rose Oko’s death last year, a race for the Senate seat erupted. The list of delegates from the March 7 and 21, 2020 ward and chapter congresses for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary on September 5, 2020 has sparked debate.
The list was verified by the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) on April 26, 2020, after it was endorsed by the National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd.).
However, some NWC members disagreed, and an effort to smuggle in a list dated April 27, 2020 was unsuccessful.
The Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, presided over by Justice I. M. Sani, upheld the April 26, 2020 list and barred the PDP’s National Working Committee (NWC) from changing the results of the March 7 and 21, 2020 ward and chapter executives’ congresses, which resulted in the April 26 list for the September 5, 2020 primary.
A factionalised PDP committee set up to screen the candidates disqualified one of the candidates, Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, from contesting the primary, leaving Dr. Stephen Odey and two others in the race.
Chief Ifedayo A. Adedipe (SAN), Jarigbe’s lawyer, had petitioned the court to overturn his client’s disqualification from the election, as well as to ascertain the authentic delegates’ list and the primary’s location.
The PDP’s National Legal Adviser, Emmanuel Enoidem, fought to stop it, but Justice Sani ruled in Jarigbe’s favor, holding that the first defendant (PDP) and the second defendant, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had no right to change the list of elected officials from the March 7 and 21, 2020 elections, and that the list should be used for the September 5, 2020 primary.
Jarigbe and Odey ran in simultaneous primaries, and the PDP only had two candidates in the December 5 race, as the Federal High Courts in Calabar and Abuja declared Odey and Jarigbe to be the party’s candidates.
Despite the legal wranglings, INEC declared the PDP the election winner, and Odey was sworn in at the Senate, but Jerigbe received a judgment from the Appeal Court and a Certificate of Return a few days later.
Despite the fact that he (Jarigbe) had yet to be sworn in by the Senate, a Supreme Court ruling on February 25, 2021 dismissed Odey and other appeals, upholding the Appeal Court’s decision.
Since then, there have been claims and counter-arguments about the outcome of the Supreme Court’s February 25, 2021 decision, as Jarigbe has yet to be sworn in.
Despite the fact that Jarigbe won in the High, Appeal, and Supreme Courts, Odey and his supporters continue to believe that he is the senator, even though INEC revoked his certificate of return and gave it to Jarigbe.
The Senate has also been accused of refusing to swear in Jarigbe, arguing that the Supreme Court’s decision in the case was not conclusive.