Barristers & Solicitors
UPDATED: Tribunal affirms Gov Otu’s election in Cross River, rejects PDP’s petition
UPDATED: Tribunal affirms Gov Otu’s election in Cross River, rejects PDP’s petition

The governorship election petition tribunal in Cross River State, on Tuesday, September 26, upheld the election of Bassey Otu as duly elected governor of the state and dismissed the petition filed by the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Sandy Onor.

In a unanimous three-hour decision, the three-member panel led by Justice Oken Inneh concurred with the arguments presented by the respondents, notably the Governor, his deputy, and the All Progressives Congress (APC), asserting that Governor Otu met the qualifications to run for election and was hence rightfully elected.

The lead counsels representing the petitioners, Senator Sandy Onor and the PDP, Jonah Musa SAN, expressed their acceptance of the judgment, even though it ruled against them.

He, however, mentioned their intention to review the decision with their client before determining whether to file an appeal.

The lead counsel to Governor Otu and the APC, Mike Ozekhome SAN, explained that the court agreed with all their submissions against the petitions.

He argued that the petition was completely baseless because the issues raised were long determined in five different cases involving the same parties in pre-election matters.

He further explained that the Tribunal frowned at the petitioner’s challenge against the school certificate of Governor Otu when the Supreme Court had defined the requirements to be those who can read and write and have attempted a school certificate or its equivalent.

According to him, Governor Otu has schooled up to university education and the petitioners did not bring any witness from the schools Governor Otu attended to disclaim the certificates tendered.

He also explained the position of the Tribunal as regards the other grounds of the petition such as where the petitioners claimed that the deputy governorship candidate of the APC was still a PDP party at the time of standing election in the APC.

Ozekhome noted: “The Tribunal dismissed those arguments citing our submissions and the submissions of other courts. The petitioners also wanted the nullification of the APC victory because they claimed that Peter Odey, the deputy governor of the State had dual citizenship and had sour allegiance to the United Kingdom. The Tribunal also dismissed that position as being a pre-election matter and therefore statute bar for the Tribunal.”

The three justices of the Tribunal all agreed to dismiss the petition in favour of Governor Otu saying it lacked merit. No cost was issued against the petitioner.