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Otu’s Tribunal Victory: APC Supporters Celebrate with Mock PDP Coffin as Governor Speaks

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By Magnus Effiong

Supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River State have celebrated the victory of Governor Bassey Otu at the State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal with a mock coffin purportedly of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Recall that the Tribunal had on Tuesday, in suit No: EPT/CR/GOV/02/2023, upheld the election of Governor Otu and dismissed the PDP petition for lack of merit.

The suit was jointly instituted by the PDP governorship candidate, Prof. Sandy Onor and his party against the election of Senator Otu and the Deputy Governor, Rt Hon. Peter Odey, and sought the removal from office of Otu and Odey.

But, in an unanimous judgement, the Tribunal chairman, Justice Oken Inneh, 

held that the issues of qualification of Prince Otu and dual citizenship of Rt. Hon. Peter Odey were pre-election matters and therefore status barred.

Explaining further on the issue of allegation of the Deputy Governor, Hon. Peter Odey (3rd respondent) swearing an oath of allegiance of being  British citizen and therefore has dual citizenship, the Tribunal said the matter is statue barred and the petitioners did not exhibits to prove their case neither were there any averrment shown. 

On the issue of party’s  membership of Rt Hon Odey, the 3-man panel held that membership of political party is exclusively party matters and it’s a pre-election issue therefore the petitioners lacks locus standi to challenge it.

As soon as the Tribunal finished reading the judgement, APC supporters poured into the Street in their numbers with assorted traditional displays including the popular Ekpe and Nnabo, while some supporters were seen carrying mock coffin purported to belong to the PDP.

One of the youths, who gave his name simply as Ekpenyong, said the coffin was ‘to mark the death and final burial of the PDP in Cross River State,” adding “we are against them, God is against them and the whole creation have said no more PDP in our State.”

However, in his reaction to the victory, Governor Otu hailed the judiciary and dedicated the victory to Cross Riverians. He urged the opposition PDP to sheath its swords.

His words: “It is with great delight and a high sense of responsibility that I welcome the judgement of the Election Petition Tribunal, which gave us our deserved victory and has affirmed the mandate Cross Riverians freely and overwhelmingly gave to us on March 18, 2023.

“Our confidence in the judiciary has never been in doubt. And it has been reinforced by today’s dispassionate ruling on the elections. I commend the Election Petition Tribunal for proving their mettle once again by upholding the virtues of justice, fair play and responsibility.

“I call on all Cross Riverians to join hands with my administration as we continue to put in place the administrative framework needed to realize the noble objectives of our People’s First mandate.

“With this judgment, I call on members of the opposition, who are our brothers and sisters, to take the ruling in good faith, jettison any further appeals and join hands with my administration to bring the much needed dividends of democracy to our people.

“It is expedient for me to stress that if our dear state, Cross River, must be counted amongst the Comity of States with bright future and great economic potential and social security, then all hands must be on deck to make the lofty dream come true.

“Our well-thought out People First Agenda remains sacrosanct in attaining its goals. What I urge of all citizens and those who have found here as home whether for business, investment, pleasure or education, is to be patient and give us the needed support as we work to reposition the state for the better.

“Fellow Cross Riverians, the present times call for sacrifices on the path of everyone. We must remain resolute and strive to play our various roles in the development of our beloved State.

“Finally, I thank the executive and members of our great party, the APC, and all Cross Riverians for their support, loyalty and unflinching solidarity before, during and after the elections.

“As we take our destiny in our hands and resolve never to be left behind, may the Almighty God reward our efforts and remain our crowning glory.”

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