The Supreme Court has set aside Friday, January 12, 2024, to deliver judgment in the appeal filed by Professor Sandy Onor of the Peoples Democratic Party, and his party, against the victory of the state governor, Bassey Otu, in the March 18 governorship election in the state.
A five-member panel of the Supreme Court on Thursday, adjourned its final judgement on the matter, to Friday.
The court registry a few minutes after the court hearing in the appeals. announced that judgment in the appeal would be delivered on Friday, January 12, 2024.
Onor and his party, the PDP, are challenging the concurrent judgments of the Cross River State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal because the judgments were perverse and should be upturned by the apex court.
The legal counsel to the Onor and his party, Dr Joshua Musa SAN, argued at the apex court that the two lower courts erred in law in holding that Otu was a lawful candidate of the All Progressives Congress, even though he had defected from the PDP and refused to vacate his seat at the state assembly in line with the judgment of a Federal High Court.
Musa further argued that the refusal to vacate office was an act of disobedience to the court, adding that the implication is that he remains a member of the PDP and could not have been validly sponsored by the APC.
However, the Independent National Electoral Commission and Governor Otu, represented by Prof. Mike Ozekhome SAN, while responding to the argument, prayed the court to dismiss the appeal for being incompetent and lacking in merit.
Ozekhome maintained that the case of the appellants was a complete waste of the apex court’s time, noting that the issue has already been decided by both the tribunal and Court of Appeal, adding that the issue borders around qualification, is a pre-election matter, well outside the jurisdiction of the apex court.
The Appeal Court in Lagos had, on November 22, 2023, affirmed the election of Bassey Otu as the governor of Cross River State.
It would be recalled that the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos, had in its unanimous judgment, dismissed the appeal of Onor and PDP and upheld the judgment of the Election Petition Tribunal delivered on September 26, 2023, which upheld the election of Otu and his deputy, Peter Odey.
Governor Otu was in March 2023, declared winner of the governorship poll by the INEC, having polled a total of 258,619 votes winning in 15 of the 18 local government areas of the state, to defeat his closest rival, Senator Sandy Onor of the PDP, who polled 179,636 votes in the election.