The Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Calabar on Wednesday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return issued to All Progressives Congress’s Alex Egbonna representing Abi/Yakurr federal constituency seat in the National Assembly.
INEC was also ordered to reissue certificate of return to Peoples Democratic Party, PDP’s John Gaul Lebo.
Hon. Alex Egbonna was the only member of the All Progressives Congress that was elected in the 2019 polls in Cross River State.
In a judgment delivered on Wednesday, the chairman of the 3-man panel Justice Vancent Agbata declared John Gual Lebo of the Peoples Democratic Party as a candidate in the polls with the highest valid votes having considered the APC candidate, “Not a lawful candidate in the eyes of the law as on the date of the election”.
The tribunal said that APC had no candidate in the eyes of the law; “A consequent of the APC war of attrition within it ranks” and also that after cancellation of the over voting recorded in the two wards of Ekwuruku in Abi local government area, the petitioner scored the highest vote validly cast in the polls.
There were nine other judgments delivered on Wednesday by the panel in which candidates of the PDP were declared winners in both the national and the state assembly. The common grounds held by the three judges: Justice Vincent Agbata as chairman, Ishaku Kunda and Abubakar Bello as members one and two respectively was that APC was “Lawfully excluded in the elections of 23rd February 2019 in Cross River State by the actions of the Independent National Electoral Commission who acted in obedience of a valid court order of the federal High court to delist all the candidates of the APC in National, State Assembly and governorship elections in the state”.
The tribunal declared all petitions of the APC as unsuccessful and viewed same to follow under the consideration of a pre-election matter even though the delisting action taken by INEC was done 12 hours to the polls.
The first Judgment was in Suit number EPT/CAL/S/01/2019 between Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba CON, SAN of the All Progressive Congress and Senator Sandy Onor of the People’s Democratic Party and two others, concerning Cross River Central Senatorial seat. It was decided in favor of the PDP.
The second judgment in suit no EPT/CAL/HR/04/2019 was between Victor Abang of APC and Chris Agibe of the PDP and two others concerned Ikom/Boki Federal Constituency. It was decided in favor of the PDP.
The 3rd judgment was Suit number EPT/CAL/HR/12/2019 between Innocent Chima Ovat of Africa Democratic Congress (ADC) and Hon. Michael Etaba and two others, concerning Obubra/Etung Federal Constituency. It was decided in favor of the PDP.
The 4th judgment was EPT/CAL/SHA/13/2019 between the current speaker of the state House of Assembly Hon. Eteng Jonah Williams and three others as respondents and Hon. Ujong Bob Ujong of the APC as petitioner, concerning Yakurr 2 state constituency. It was decided in favor of the PDP.
The 5th Judgment was EPT/CAL/HR/03/2019 between Egbe Abeng Egbe of APC versus Hon. Michael Etaba Irom of the PDP and two others, concerning Obubra/Etung Federal Constituency. It was decided in favor of the PDP.
The 6th judgment was EPT/CAL/SHA/28/2019 between Apostle Godwin Ukpanukpong and another versus Mr. Godwin Akwaji and two others concerning Bakwarra state constituency. It was decided in favor of the PDP.
The 7th judgment was EPT/CAL/SHA/19/2019 Charles Ikpi Eni and another versus Ofem E. Nelson and two others, concerning Yakurr 1 state constituency. It was decided in favor of the PDP.
The 8th judgment was suit number EPT/CAL/SHA/17/2019 between Barr. Sabastine Ubua Anyia of the APC and another versus Hon. Dr. Virginia Itam Abang of the PDP and two others, concerning Boki State constituency. It was decided in favor of the PDP.
The 9th judgment was Suit number EPT/CAL/SHA/24/2019 between Hon. Bassey Efiom Asuquo of the APC and another versus Hon. Elizabeth Edem Ironbar of the PDP and two others, concerning Akpabuyo State constituency. It was decided in favor of the PDP.
The 10th case is as earlier reported, being suit number EPT/CAL/HR/11/2019 between Hon. John Gaul Lebo of the PDP versus APC ‘s Hon. Alex Egbonna and one other, concerning the Abi/Yakurr federal constituency. It was decided in favor of the PDP.
The tribunal judges blames the APC for setting fire into her own house with numerous pre-election litigations one of which caused the candidacy of her candidates to be invalid by the lawful order of the federal High court in suit number FHC/CAL/73/18 which was not reversed by any superior court ruling.
In fact the Appeal court order cited, directing the maintenance of status quo was interpreted by the tribunal in favor of the respondent being that it did not validate the candidacy of APC candidates in the polls at the time. Five judgements are expected to be delivered Thursday by the second panel of the tribunal.