The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Calabar has struck out the petition of Sen. Sandy Onor of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while affirming the victory of Governor Bassey Otu of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Delivering judgement on Tuesday (Sept. 26) a three-man tribunal panel led by Justice Oken Inneh said Onor’s petitions were lacking in merit.
Inneh also thanked all the Senior Advocates of Nigeria in court and learned counsels for their decorum through the process of the proceedings.
It would be recalled that the former senator representing Central Senatorial District of Cross River had petitioned the tribunal after the governorship election of March 18 demanding the disqualification of Otu who was declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He had alleged that the governor was not qualified to run for the office because he lacked the requisite qualification while his deputy, Mr Peter Odey had denounced his Nigerian citizenship while swearing allegiance to Britain.
He also added that Odey should be disqualified because, at the time he was elected with his principal, on the platform of the APC, he was still a PDP member.
Speaking to journalists after the judgement, Jonah Musa SAN, Lead Counsel to Onor and the PDP said although the judgement went against them, they are impressed with the industry of the justices.
“We will go back and sit down with our clients, let them see the judgement and they will tell us what next,” he said.
On his part, Prof. Mike Ozekhome, Lead Counsel to Otu and the APC said the petition brought before the tribunal died two months ago when the petitioners withdrew two grounds of their petition.
According to Ozekhome, the governor is overqualified which is why the tribunal asked the question, how do you challenge a person’s qualification when section 318 of the constitution defines School Certificate which he tendered as enough qualification.
“They had also challenged his deputy for allegedly not belonging to the APC whereas in 2021, the same PDP sued him for defecting from PDP to the APC and still retaining his seat as a member in the Cross River House of Assembly.
“Two years later, you turn around to say that the same person you said was a member of APC was not a member of APC while the tribunal believes that political party membership is a domestic affair.
“Also, the case of dual citizenship of Odey is not a matter that can dis-entitle someone from contesting the election as it is not one of the criteria under section 177 of the Nigerian constitution,” he said. (NAN)