Usani wasn’t Cross River APC guber candidate, INEC tells tribunal
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday declared that former Minister of Niger Delta, Usani Uguru Usani, was not the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River State.
Usani had taken Governor Ben Ayade, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and INEC to the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Calabar, seeking nullification of the March 9, 2019 governorship poll in the state. Submitting a written address through his counsel, Elder Henrie Ituen, Usani told the tribunal that National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, refused to submit his name as the party’s candidate in the election.
Consequently, Ituen prayed the tribunal to consider Usani as valid candidate, who was unjustly excluded from the election and demanded that the tribunal annul the election and order a rerun where he could be fielded as candidate.
But responding, Counsel to INEC, Ademola Adesina, argued that the respondent’s objection to Usani’s petition was an abuse of court process in view of two main points.One being a judgment of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, which is exhibit R before the tribunal, where the court had ruled that the petitioner was not the party’s candidate.
He said the second point is in exhibit R3, which is a petition from the validly nominated candidate of the APC complaining about the petition as an abuse of court process.
Similarly, Counsel to PDP, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) said, “He was not validly nominated by his party and he admitted so in his witness testimonies and the final written address saying that Oshiomhole refused to submit his name as a candidate.”
Paul Erokoro (SAN), counsel to Governor Ayade, said concerning the facts of a motion where the petitioner filed his appeal out of time and requested extension of time to deem his final address as duly filed, he leaves the decision to the tribunal’s discretion. “For Ayade’s final written address, dated and filed on December 26, 2019, was filed on points of law to the petitioner’s address and is hereby adopted,” he stated.
Counsel to the petitioner (Owan-Enoh), Awa Kalu (SAN) stated that although the party was in leadership crisis in the state, it did not obliterate the place of the party’s national leadership to choose its candidates.Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Majemi after adoption of the two cases, expressed happiness with counsel’ maturity during the proceedings and ruled out any compromise in the course of the hearing.
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