From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Senator John Owan Enoh has rejected the Appeal Court judgment affirming Sen. Bassey Otu as the Cross River governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and has headed to Supreme Court.
The Appellate Court in Calabar had on Thursday dismissed Sen. Owan-Enoh’s appeal challenging the judgment of the Federal High Court which had earlier upheld Sen. Bassey Otu as APC candidate.
The judgment read by Justice Elfreda Williams Daoodu on behalf of the 3-man panel of Judges said the Appellant had sought two reliefs which include the Appellate Court to set aside the lower court’s judgment and to determine whether or not the respondent (Senator Otu) was appropriately cleared to participate in the governorship primary.
She said Owan Enoh had argued that since the governorship primary screening and appeal screening committees of the party did not clear Senator Otu to take part in the governorship primaries, the National Working Committee (NWC) could not have cleared Sen Otu and did not issue any waiver.
But Justice Daoodu, in the judgment, averred that the NWC of the party has powers to clear the respondent after he had presented original copies of his credentials which was the issue under contention.
“In our considered opinion, there was no breach of the first respondent’s (APC) Constitution by the NWC. Looking closely, one is unable to find any record of miscarriage of Justice by NWC. The NWC has powers to clear aspirants and even grant waivers.
“We hereby agree with the Judgement of the lower court as given by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu and hereby dismiss the appeal,” the court submitted.
But Senator Owan Enoh, through his counsel, Jacob Abang Takim, Esq, said his team was heading to the Supreme Court to challenge the matter.
“If you look closely at the guidelines of the said governorship primaries, it says, for you to stand election, you must be fully cleared, and if you are to proceed to the NWC for waivers due to any reason, the constitution of the APC says you must apply in writing, not verbally. Did he (Otu) apply in writing?
“I have said it seversll times that this matter will end at the Supreme Court. We are not satisfied with the judgmet. We will look at the judgment again and I know there are sufficient grounds for the Supreme Court to determine and we are sure justice will be done,” he stated.
However, Barr Mike Ozekhome, lead counsel to Senator Otu hailed the judgement.
In an interview, Barr Utum Eteng, who spoke on behalf of Barr Ozekhome, said “this is a confirmation that there is no hurdle to Sen. Bassey Otu becoming governor in 2023. I appeal to Sen. Owan Enoh to give peace a chance.”
Recall that Sen. Owan Enoh had, after the May 26, 2022 Cross River State governorship primaries, approached the Court in Suit No.FHC/CA/061/2022 between him and APC, INEC and Sen Bassey Edet Otu, seeking for the disqualification of Otu.
Owan, through his counsel, Awa Kalu (SAN), had argued that Sen. Otu did not show that he was fully cleared after screening.
Delivering judgment on the matter, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu declared that Sen. Otu was validly elected as APC candidate.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu held that the plaintiffs Sen. John Owan Enoh, failed to prove his case, adding that in the seven paragraph affidavit summitted by the plaintiffs, the allegation of forgery could not be established.