…As Abang extends olive branch to Ochinke after confirms his victory in Boki Ikom race
Abasi Ita, Calabar
The Cross River National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Calabar has upheld the election of Godwin Offiono as the duly elected House of Representatives Member for Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency.
The affirmative ruling in favour of Barrister Godwin Offiono of the Peoples Democratic Party National followed an unanimous decision of three member panel headed by Justice M.A. Adeniyi.
Justice Adeniyi held that the petitioners failed to woefully to prove their allegations and the issues set out in the petition have been resolved against them earlier.
Justice Adeniyi also ordered the parties to bear their respective costs in the suit marked EPT/CA/HR/02/2023.
The petitioners in the suit, Jude Ngaji and the All Progressives Congress had filed a suit at the tribunal on the 17th of March, 2023 challenging the declaration of Offiono as winner of the election by INEC.
The petitioners sole prayer in the petition was for the invalidation of the February 25 National Assembly elections on grounds of corrupt practices and non compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
He also sought some reliefs from the Tribunal including an order cancelling the elections, order cancelling the Certificate of Return as well as an order for fresh elections or in the alternative order cancelling elections in 39 polling units.
The Tribunal in reaching it’s conclusion held that “the petitioners failed to substantiate their allegation of improper accreditation as contained in paragraph 14 to 17 of their petition.
“Petitioners allegation of over-voting in only four polling units does not affect the overall outcome of the election and it is not the duty of the tribunal to fish for evidence.
“The petitioners have failed to discharge the burden that the respondent colluded to allot votes”, the tribunal held.
On the allegations of disenfranchisement of voters, the tribunal maintained that it is only the disenfranchised voters who ought to give evidence of their disenfranchisement in court.
It further held that in the absence of the testimony of the disenfranchised voters, it cannot be said that the disenfranchisement has taken place.
In a related development, Hon Victor Abang of Boki/Ikom Federal Constituency has appealed to his APC opponent, Barrister Atta Ochinke to team up with him in ensuring a better representation for the people of Ikom Boki federal constituency.
Exchanging views with journalists shortly after the Tribunal upheld his election at the expense of Barrister Ochinke whose petition was struck out for lack of merit, Hon. Abang said: “I would like to implore my brother and friend to please sheath the sword. We need to work together in the interest of our people. He is a cerebral lawyer, I need his ideas and experience. Together, we can fashion out a viable road map to address the peculiar needs our people.
Reacting to the judgment, Abang described it as an affirmation of the mandate given to him by the people of Ikom/Boki federal constituency assuring the constituents of effective representation.