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Cross River petition tribunal strikes out by-election cases

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National and State Houses of Assembly election petition tribunal, yesterday, struck out two by-election cases in its inaugural sitting in Calabar, Cross River State.

The tribunal, chaired by Justice Yusuf Ubale Muhammad and justices John Olajide Abe and Ngele Gilbert Alo as members said the petition marked: EPT/CR/SEN/01/2020 filed by Allied Peoples Movement (APM) against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and two others was withdrawn and therefore struck out on January 12, 2021 following settlement between the parties.

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It said another motion seeking to withdraw the second petition marked: EPT/CR/SEN/02/2020 filed by Gregory Agam and the African Democratic Congress (ADC) versus Stephen Adi Odey and three others, was taken and struck out following settlement between the parties.

After that, the tribunal considered the third petition marked: EPT/CR/SEN/03/2020 filed by Joe Odey Agi and the All Progressives Congress (APC) versus Stephen Adi Odey and three others for pre- hearing.

However, the hearing was stalled after counsel to the petitioner, Muhammad Shiebu, noted that he had received the defendants’ response from Jerigbe Agom Jerigbe, INEC and Peoples Democratic Party, as second, third and fourth respondents, but was yet to receive the first respondent’s (Odey) response.

The tribunal said the parties accepted the plea for an adjournment at the instance of counsel to Odey, Mr. Offiong Offiong, to enable him to file the first respondent’s reply to the petition.

Muhammad announced that three petitions were received and filed before the tribunal following the December 5, 2020 by-election conducted for Cross River North Senatorial District.

He cautioned the litigants against unnecessary delay in sorting out the cases, adding: “We are determined to ensure that justice is served on the parties and no petition will expire before the 180 days allowed by law.”

INEC had issued Odey his Certificate of Return (COR) and sworn in at the Senate, but a recent pre-election case in the Appeal Court ruled that Jerigbe was PDP’s authentic candidate.

The Supreme Court would soon rule on the matter, as the tribunal adjourned the case to February 22, 2021 for further hearing.

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