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Cross River PDP feigns ignorance of aspirants list for by-election

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has insisted that it is unaware of the delegates list for the September 5, 2020 primary, as all litigants have closed their cases against the exercise.

It stated this while reacting to cases of the state and National Assembly Petition Tribunal for December 5, 2020, Cross River North Senatorial District by-election sitting in Calabar.

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The delegates list issue has been controversial as the High Court in Port Harcourt had declared that the party should use the February 7, 2021, and February 21, 2020 list the National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd.) endorsed on April 26, 2020.

All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates on December 5, 2020, Cross River North Senatorial by-election, Joe Agi had questioned the eligibility of PDP candidates Stephen Odey and Agom Jarigbe in the election.

Counsels to the PDP, Emmanuel Enoidem, and that of INEC, Mohammed Abdullahi closed their cases for hearing as the PDP insisted that Jarigbe was not the party’s candidate for the election, while Agi, Odey, and Jarigbe closed their cases through written addresses.

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During cross-examination, Mba Ukweni, counsel to Jarigbe, told the PDP witness, Sani Yewuri that there was a split in the PDP five-man committee mandated to conduct the primary because two members insisted on using the original list approved by the court, while two others abstained.

He added that exhibits A11 and A12 were the reports of the primaries as exhibit A11 declared Odey winner of the primary, while A12 declared Jarigbe winner, which polarised the result because the Chairman and Secretary of the committee refused to use the authentic list confirmed by the courts.

The witness admitted that the party complied with the courts’ judgments as exhibits 16, 17, and 18 that ordered the party from sidelining the delegates list that emerged from February 7 and 21, 2020 ward and chapter congresses, adding: “I don’t know which of the delegates list that was used during the primary.”

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When asked if the Chairman and Secretary of the committee’s refusal to comply with the orders necessitated the split, he said: “I don’t know,” but admitted that the party directed the panel to comply with the list, as the court ordered, but was not aware if there was a split in the committee.

Lead counsel to PDP, Emmanuel Enoidem, while cross-examining Ejar Mgbantol, another witness to Jarigbe, said: “From the primaries to the end, PDP never submitted Jarigbe’s name, but Mgbantol’s. I am aware he (Jarigbe) won the primary, but not aware of PDP processes. I don’t know whose name PDP submitted; I was surprised because I learned Odey’s name was submitted.

While also cross-examining Chief Austin Idibe the second witness to Jarigbe, Enoidem said Idibe was conversant with the workings of the PDP within its powers to nominate and sponsor candidates.

He added that the PDP never submitted Jarigbe’s name and that the election committee or panel was split two to three in favour of Odey.

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