By Ene Ene
As the Cross River Northern senatorial election petition tribunal seating in Calabar gradually winds down, parties in the matter have adopted their final written addresses.
In suit no.EPT/CR/SEN/02/2023 filled by All Progressives Congress (APC) and Sen Ben Ayade, who are the first and second petitioners respectively, in the matter while, the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), Sen Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who are joined as first, second and third Respondents respectively.
The former Governor, Ben Ayade in that suit is calling for the invalidation of the 2023 northern senatorial election which Senator Jarigbe Agom was declared the winner by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
Recalled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), announced Sen Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the Cross River North senatorial district election, in which Ben Ayade was dissatisfied
Addressing the court, counsel to second respondent, Mbah Ukweni, SAN, adumbrated that the petitioners evidence during cross-examination contradict their written statement, pointing out that no single report from security agencies are before the Tribunal about corrupt practices.
He said the petitioner cannot be seeking to be declared winner of the same election he is saying was null and void.
He described the petition as most bizarre, stressing that the petition should be dismissed with excruciating cost awarded on the petitioner.
On the other hand, lead counsel to the first and second petitioners Prof. Mike Ozekhome, SAN, pleaded that the court adopt his written address and opined that the INEC should be lashed for committing serial acts of illegality and then want to take advantage of their own illegalities.
According to Ozakhome,”it was the same INEC that certified and gave us form EC8A, they can not now turn around to say we should have used form EC81. Form EC8A was for Presidential election and EC81 was for senatorial election”,he stated.
He continued: “It was the same INEC that gave it to us, so you want to profit from your illegality”.
He claimed that the same INEC that sent a witness, Mrs Mercy Atawodi, who was not cooperating because we subpoena her that we had to treat her as a hostile witness. The same INEC that will not bring out BVAS machine with the argument that the BVAS machine had already been erased after the Presidential election awaiting the governorship election. So having not brought it, it means that under section 147 of the Evidence Act, they were hiding a piece of evidence that they know if produced was inimical to their case.
“We have demonstrated that there was insecurity, there was violence, there was militarization of the polling units and they were arguing in a most funny way that we should have brought security reports from the same security they paid to disrupt the election, that practically impossible.
The tribunal adjourned for a date it would communicate for judgment to the parties after counsels adopted their final written addresses.