The Supreme Court on Monday reserved judgment in two appeals in relation to the dispute over who the authentic candidate of the PDP in the Cross River North Senatorial District.
The by-election was held on Dec. 5, 2020.
The dispute is between Sen. Stephen Odey and Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe.
A seven-member panel of the apex court, headed by Justice Musa Mohammad, reserved judgment, after lawyers to parties adopted their written arguments.
Justice Mohammed said the date for judgment will be communicated to all parties in the suit.
Easrlir, Odey, through his lawyer, Wole Olanipekun, SAN, is prayed the apex court to, among others, set aside an aspect of the judgment delivered by the Abuja Court of Appeal, on Dec. 17, 2020.
The appeal court had directed INEC to recognise Jarigbe as the candidate of the PDP for the by-election.
Odey argued that his party, the PDP conducted its primary election on Sept. 5, 2020, preparatory to the Dec. 5, 2020 by-election.
He added that he won, with 450 votes, while Jarigbe scored 90 votes, subsequent upon Jarigbe sued at the Federal High Court, Port-Harcourt to challenge the outcome of the primary election.
He said the suit by Jarigbe was later transferred to the Calabar division of the Federal High Court.
Odey added that while Jarigbe’s case was pending, he also sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for delaying to publish his name as the PDP’s candidate; weeks after the party submitted his name to it (INEC) as the winner of the primary.
He stated that the Federal High Court, Calabar delivered its judgments in both cases on Dec. 3, 2020 affirming him as the authentic PDP candidate, while the court struck out Jarigbe’s case for want of jurisdiction.
Odey said the Federal High Court proceeded to make an order of perpetual injunction, restraining INEC from interfering with his candidacy.
He said based on the court’s decision, he contested the by-election of Dec. 5, 2020, as the candidate of the PDP and was declared the winner by INEC, following which he was sworn in on Dec. 16, 2020, at the Senate as the Senator representing Cross River North Senatorial District.
Odey said he was, however, shocked to learn the next day Dec. 17, 2020 that the Court of Appeal, Abuja upheld an order made by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, directing INEC to accept Jarigbe as the candidate of the PDP for the same election he won and on which basis he was inaugurated as a Senator.
He stated that unknown to him, while they were before the Federal High Court, Calabar, in respect of the suit by Jarigbe, challenging the outcome of the primary election, an ally of Jarigbe, John Alaga filed a suit before the High Court of FCT on Oct. 5, 2020, claiming that Jarigbe won the primary, but that he should be disqualified for submitting forged certificates to INEC.
In a judgment on Nov. 14, 2020, Justice Bintu Mohammed of the High Court of the FCT, dismissed the suit by Alaga, on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to establish his case.
Odey stated that rather than stop at just dismissing the suit, Justice Mohammed proceeded to make consequential orders, including that directing INEC to recognise Jarigbe as the candidate of the PDP, a decision Alaga appealed at the Court of Appeal, Abuja.
He stated that the Court of Appeal, in its judgment in the appeal by Alaga delivered on Dec. 17, 2020, agreed with the High Court that the suit was without merit, but failed to set aside the consequential orders made by the trial court without jurisdiction.
In his appeal, Odey further faulted the Court of Appeal for refusing to set aside the consequential orders, despite finding that the PDP, the party, whose candidate’s fate was being determined, was not made a party at the High Court and that the suit, being a pre-election matter, was filed by Alaga after the 14 days allowed.
“It is the failure to set aside the consequential orders that is the central and sole focus of this appeal,” he said.
Lawyers to the first and second respondents John Alaga and Jarigbe, Samuel Ologunorisa, SAN, and Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN, respectively, however, challenged the competence of the appeal and asked the court to dismiss the suit.