Jane Otu, Calabar
DAILY COURIER – The Federal High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross State, on Monday, declared Senator Bassey Edet Otu as the duly elected All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in the State for the 2023 elections.
In Suit No: FHC/CS/106/2022 presided over by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, the court held that the plaintiff, Senator John Owan Enoh, failed to prove his case.
In a seven-paragraph affidavit submitted by the plaintiff, Justice Ojukwu stated that the allegation of forgery could not be established.
“The plaintiff failed to provide what constituted or constitutes the false information provided by the third defendant who is the candidate of his party in his affidavit or any document submitted as contained in the constitutional requirement.
“There is no where in the seven-paragraph affidavit submitted by the plaintiff that the third defendant submitted any false information.
“The allegation of forgery was not established in any manner.
“None of the documents or certificates submitted by the third defendant gave evidence of forgery.
“I have carefully perused the averments and find no evidence of false information.
“The party that alleges false information according to Section 29:5 of the Electoral Act has the onus to prove but this was not discharged.
“For the court to rule otherwise, there must be cogent and palpable evidence to the contrary, but in this case there is none that is presented before this court,” Justice Ojukwu held.
Ojukwu stated that though the third defendant was not cleared by the Screening Panel and the Appeal Panel of the APC, but he was, however, cleared by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, stressing that it will be a journey into the oblivion to question why he was cleared.
In her words, the presiding Judge said, “The real issues involved in this case has been settled in favour of the third defendant.
“In the final analysis, I find that the plaintiff has failed to substantiate his claims to be deserving of a favourable judgment of this court in terms of reliefs sought.
“This honourable Court is of the humble but firm opinion that the plaintiff’s case lacks merit, so this case fails and is accordingly dismissed.”
Benson Igbanoi, who held brief for Chief Mike Ozekome, who was the leading counsel to the third defendant, Senator Prince Bassey Edet Otu, stated that the pronouncement of the court was a victory indeed.
Reacting to the judgement, counsel to Senator Owan Enoh, Mr. Jacob Abang Dakim, who held brief for Awah Kalu, SAN, stated that the matter would be immediately appealed.
Enoh’s counsel said, “We have his mandate to appeal the matter immediately.
“If the preliminary objections succeed, I see no reason why the main case should not succeed.”
Reacting to the matter, Cross River State chairman of APC, Mr. Alphonsus Eba, stated that the judgment was sound, adding that it also affirmed that the party did the right thing.
The APC State party chairman added that there is no victor nor vanquished in the party, calling on all stakeholders to close ranks.