The Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar has reaffirmed the victory of Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State in the 2019 election after the petition tribunal declared him the winner.
The court also awarded N600,000 as punitive cost against the former Minister for Niger Delta, Usani Usani, who claimed to be the candidate of the All Progressives Congress.
Usani was ordered to pay N200,000 each to the three respondents in the Appeal number CA/C/NAEA/GOV/414/2019 filed by himself as the appellant.
The three respondents in the case were the Independent National Electoral Commission, Governor Benedict Ayade and the Peoples Democratic Party.
Usani had claimed he was a factional candidate of the APC in the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Cross River State, while INEC recognized Senator John Owan-Enoh as the candidate of the APC in the state.
The five-man Appeal panel presided over by Justice Adzira Gana Mshelia in a unanimous judgement, described Usani’s appeal as a gross abuse of court processes, academic and hypothetical.
The court said Usani was not the governorship candidate of APC on March 9, 2019 election and that he was at best a meddlesome interloper.
The judgement read in part, “The preliminary objection of the 1st Respondent succeeded on the grounds that the Appellants’ Brief was filed out of time for which the appeal was liable to be dismissed for want of prosecution. I have further considered the appeal on the merit as though there was a valid competent Appellants’ Brief on which the appeal is prosecuted and I have resolved all the issues in favour of the Respondents.
“The concatenation is that the appeal on whatever score must be dismissed. The appeal is accordingly dismissed and the decision of the Tribunal delivered on 12th September 2019 is hereby affirmed. The Respondents are entitled to the cost of this appeal which I assess and fix at N200, 000 in favour of each of the 1st Respondent on one hand and the 2nd and 3rd Respondents on the other hand”.
Reacting to the judgement, Governor Ayade through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Christian Ita, said the victory was an affirmation of the mandate overwhelmingly given to him by the people of Cross River State.
He dedicated the victory to God and the people of the state and again extended an olive branch to his opponents in other political parties to join hands with him in moving the state forward.
“The period of politics is over, it is time for governance,” Ita quoted the governor as saying.