By Abasi Ita, Calabar
A socio-political group known as Cross River North Progressives Forum has blasted Governor Ben Ayade for dragging Senator Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe who defeated him with a landslide margin in the Cross River North Senate Election to the Election Petition Tribunal to challenge the victory.
According to the forum, “The option by Governor Ayade to contest the outcome of the credible process that produce Senator Jarigbe as the winner in defiance to the ulterior agenda of the government house smacks of insatiable greed, insensitivity and the perpetual quest to overturn the wishes of the masses in Cross North who has nothing to show despite producing a governor for 8 years”
It was recalled that Ayade lost his bid to return to the Upper Legislative chamber of the National Assembly to incumbent Senator Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe,PDP, who garnered 76,145 as against Ben Ayade (APC) who got 56,595 in a titanic contest declared by Dr. Emmanuel Emangghe, who served as the returning officer for Cross River North Senatorial District election held on February 25, 2023.
The Northern Cross River Progressives Forum, in a statement signed by the chairman, Ntufam Ogar Odey, and secretary, Comrade Peter Agaba, made available to newsmen in Calabar, after an emergency meeting convened to review the outcome of the last general elections in the state, described the NASS election in Cross River North as “free, fair and most credible contest during the just concluded election in the state urging Ayade to “accept defeat rather that going against the tide to avoid worsening his already messy political career”
“Our stand has become inevitable to caution and restrain an individual without any direct positive impact on our developmental aspirations from continuously depleting our common patrimony in pursuit of a selfish ambition which has cost our state billions of naira since he nursed the dream of returning to the Upper Legislative Chambers of the National Assembly following the demise of our former lawmaker, late Senator Rose Oko who passed on in 2020”
The group opined that “challenging the victory of Senator Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe in the Senate election is the height of insensitivity given the overwhelming support enjoyed by Jarigbe across the North which is attributable to his achievements despite a short spell in the Senate. Those goading him on want to rip him off again after the PDP saga that led to his defection”
“We in the North met and resolved to vote massively for Senator Jarigbe across party lines given his visible projects across our 54 political wards. Ayade as a Governor for about eight years could not achieve half of what Jarigbe did in less than two years as a Senator.
“Let the Governor dare not provoke our people by wanting to once again feast on the state treasury to prosecute his tribunal case. Let him desist from stoking the flame of violence and disunity amongst our people courtesy of his vaulted political ambition fueled by self-aggrandizement”
“Our people were resolute, even in the face of thuggery, intimidation, destruction of property, and bluntly rejected huge amount voted for vote buying during the National Assembly polls.”
According to the group, we are monitoring proceedings at the Election Tribunal and are aware that the Governor’s legal team has already misfired by pleading for Presidential Results which include Forms EC8A, EC8B, EC8C, and EC8D as against Senatorial Elections results which include Forms EC8A1, EC8B1, EC8C1, and EC8D1
“We note that “in law, the evidence tendered, must support the pleadings,” adding “leave Senator Jarigbe alone because he won the election, freely and fairly. Ask your Alphonsus Eba, your APC State Chairman to return the millions he got for vote buying.”