Cross River: Federal court to rule Oct 24 on APC governorship battle

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The Federal High Court has fixed October 24 to rule on who is the authentic governorship candidate of Cross River All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the 2023 election.

The court sitting in Calabar and presided over by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu arrived at the decision after a four-hour hearing from both counsels on the dispute.

The case, with Suit Number FHC/CA/CS/95/2022, is between Sen. John Owan Enoh as plaintiff and the APC, INEC and Sen. Prince Bassey Otu as defendants.

Speaking after the hearing, Counsel to the Plaintiff, Awa Kalu, SAN, said the proceedings arose through originating summons and it’s a simple and straightforward procedure.

He also said he asked for a subpoena but later withdrew it because they don’t want to lose sight of their complaint.

“From our point of view, the hearing has been concluded because the proceedings were started by originating summons and it’s a simple and straightforward procedure.

“We asked for a subpoena which we withdrew and it’s our decision to withdraw it.

“The time for this kind of litigation is limited and if you start pursuing it you lose sight of the main complaint. So in order to save the complaint, we took it away”, he stated.

On his part, counsel for Prince Otu, Mike Ozehome, SAN, said they had a good outing and we’re able to prove at least three points that the third defendant is over qualified to stand for the election.

“We were able to demonstrate and show that the third defendant (Bassey Otu) is not only qualified but over-qualified to run for the governorship position.

“We also demonstrated that Section 318 of the constitution of Nigeria only required reading up to secondary school even primary 6 certificate is enough, that is what the Supreme Court said in Atiku Abubakar VS INEC.

“In this case, Bassey Otu not only had a primary/secondary school certificate, he has a degree in Sociology from the University of Calabar.

“The second point is that Sen. Onoh had already withdrawn from the race in his letter dated 25th of May, 2022, so he cannot reprobate and approbate at the same time.

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“We also raised the jurisdictional issue because they filed the case on the 8th of June 2022 but INEC officially uploaded the result on 27th July, 2022 so they were actually counting their chicks before they were hatched”, he said.

Sen John Owan Enoh, one of the governorship aspirants, had approached the court shortly after May 26 Cross River State governorship primaries, challenging the process that threw up Bassey Edet Otu as the governorship candidate.

Owan is asking the court to determine whether “Bassey Otu was qualified to participate in the APC May 26, 2022, in Cross River State governorship primaries having not been cleared by the Screening Committee of the party and with regard to the provisions of Articles 3, 14.15, 16 and 19 (6) of the Constitution of the APC for the process of nomination of candidates and pursuant to Section 84(3) of the Electoral Act and Section 177 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.”

Owan further wants the court to determine whether Otu, “having been disqualified by the Screening Committee and Screening Appeal Committee for questionable academic credentials and failure to produce his first school leaving certificate nor his West African School Certificates, ought to have participated in the election primaries.

“To determine whether the organising secretary has overriding power to clear the Bassey Otu, who was disqualified by the Screening Committee and the Screening Appeal Committee, being the bodies responsible for the clearance of aspirants for governorship primaries and whether such clearance by an individual to participate in the party governorship primaries did not constitute a breach of the Constitution of the APC.”

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