Home News Otu Wins Again as Tribunal Dismisses Opponent’s Petition

Otu Wins Again as Tribunal Dismisses Opponent’s Petition

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By Magnus Effiong

Governor Bassey Otu has again scaled through another legal hurdle as the Cross River State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Calabar dismissed a petition filled by the New Nigeria People’s Party, NNPP, and its governorship candidate, Amb. Wilfred Ostang Bonse.

Recall that the NNPP and Amb Bonse, had found fault with the March 28th, 2023 governorship election, and therefore dragged Governor Otu, the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents to the Tribunal

Unfortunately for the petitioners, the Tribunal, headed by Justice J.O. Ekeaya-Inneh, also awarded a N3 million fine against the first and second petitioners. 

In his argument, counsel to the 2nd petitioners, Barr D. D. Ujong had argued that the 3rd respondent having failed to include the second petitioner in the March 18th 2023 governorship election ballot paper, contravened the electoral law and as such, prayed the court to declare the election won by the first respondent as null and void and order the third respondent to conduct a fresh election. 

However, Counsel to the first respondent, Barr. Ededem Ani, said the first and second petitioners lacked the locus standi, having failed to participate in the Governorship election. He also argued that the election petition tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the case as it was completely a pre-election matter. 

In determining the case, the court held that the petitioners failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt, due to their inability to call enough witnesses to prove compliance, which rendered the case unmeritorious 

The court said that the first and second petitioners failed to prove who the candidate of the party was before the elections.

“For a candidate to be withdrawn from any election, the candidate would have to notify it’s political party, who would inturn notify the electoral umpire. In this case, the petitioners failed to prove before this court that any of such provisions of the law was adhered to” Chairman of the panel, Justice J.O Ekeaya-Inneh ruled. 

For the two witnesses called upon by the petitioners, her lordship dismissed the witness for failing to place before the tribunal enough evidence to prove their claims of non compliance by the 3rd respondent and therefore dismissed the petition. 

“For failing therefore to prove before this court, claims of non-compliance and providing only two witnesses out of the over three thousand polling units across the state, I hereby dismiss this case for lacking in merit.” the court ruled. 

Speaking after the ruling, council to Sen. Bassey Otu, Barr. Ededem Ani said the judgement represents one less distraction to the governor who lawfully won the elections.

“This judgement represents one less distraction to the governor, Sen. Bassey Otu who needs all the support to deliver on his Mandate. We are thankful to God for this victory”

Counsel to Sen. Bassey Otu, had earlier prayed the court to award a fine of N10 million against the petitioners for wasting the time of the court. However, counsel to the petitioners D.D Ujong prayed the court to temper mercy, the court however, awarded a N3 million fine against the petitioners.

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