By Olalekan Awojodu
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal on Thursday affirmed the declaration of Jarigbe Agom as the duly elected candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the Cross River North senatorial bye election that held on Saturday, December 5, 2020.
Justice Binta Mohammed of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had in her judgment declared Jarigbe as the valid candidate of the party for the senatorial bye election.
Dissatisfied, his challenger, John Alaga approached the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment of the trial court.
However, in a unanimous judgment, the appellate court dismissed the appeal as frivolous, vexatious and abuse of court process.
Justice Peter Ige held that having not participated in the primary election of the party, the appellant lacked the locus standi to institute the suit.
“The appellant lacked the locus standi to institute the suit in the first place. I wonder why the trial court did not make pronouncement on this. Only a person who participated in the primary election or a political party that has the power to challenge the outcome of the election and not a third party who did not participate in the election.
” There is no evidence before the court that the appellant participated in the primary election. He only exhibited his party card and no other exhibit. The action of the appellant is a gross abuse of the court process.
Justice Ige further held that the facts stated by the respondents to the appeal in their affidavit evidence are well founded and have not been contradicted by the appellant.
“The materials put forward by the 1st and 2nd respondents have dislodged the evidence adduced by the appellant.
The court also held that the appellant did not prove allegations of forgery which is criminal in nature and needed to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.”
The court accordingly dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit and award a cost of N250, 000 against the appellant in favour of the 1st respondent and N100,000 in favour of the 2nd defendant.
Justice Binta Mohammed had in her judgment, held that contrary to the claim of the claimant, John Alaga, the defendant (Jarigbe) did not supply any false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in his INEC Form CF001 by purporting to have sat for / and or obtained educational qualification making him eligible to contest for the Cross River North Senatorial Bye election.
The court also held that the Cross River North Senatorial primary election of the PDP wherein Jarigbe (1st defendant) was nominated as the Senatorial candidate was conducted with the authentic list of the Ward and Local Government Area Executives of the party.
Justice Mohammed further held that “the first defendant having won the highest number of valid votes at the said primary election is validly nominated as the candidate of the PDP for the Cross River North Senatorial Bye election scheduled to hold on October 31, 2020 or any other date.
That the primary election of the PDP for the Cross River North Senatorial held on September 5, 2020, was duly nominated by INEC (2nd defendant) and therefore valid and in accordance with the law.
The Court therefore directed INEC, sued as the second Defendant, to include and publish the name of Hon. Jarigbe on the list of candidates for the bye election scheduled for 5th December, 2020. The INEC was also further ordered to give Hon. Jarigbe every other rights and privileges pertaining to his lawful qualification and nomination as the PDP candidate.
The primary election of the PDP has been the enmeshed in legal tussle since the 5th of September when it was conducted.