The candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the February 23, 2019 Cross River central senatorial election, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, has again floored his opponents in his quest to upturn the victory of Senator Sandy Onor of the People Democratic Party, PDP.
This is coming barely one month after the PDP failed to stop Senator Ndoma Egba’s star witness, Bassey Ibor, from being heard at resumed sitting of the Cross River State Election Petition Tribunal. Ibor is believed to have the ingredients which could tilt the Tribunal’s decision in favour of the lawyer-cum politician.
Again the former Senate leader had an upper hand in the Court of Appeal, Calabar Division when the appellate court said the mandatory time frame stipulated by law for the filing and hearing of PDP’s appeal against the ruling of the Tribunal, had elapsed.
Recall that the Tribunal had earlier dismissed the respective applications by the PDP and its candidates for the Central Senatorial District, Ntufam Dr. Sandy Onor and Boki 1 State Constituency, Dr. Mrs. Itam Abang challenging the competence of the Tribunal to hear the Petitions brought before it by Senator Ndoma-Egba and Barr. Sabastine Anyia of the APC.
Both appeals, which were initially slated for hearing on 16th July, 2019 were adjourned to 18th July 2019 because the appellants could not satisfy the Court that the Notice of Appeal had been properly served on the Respondents.
When the First Appeal (No. CA/C/NAEA/234/2019) between Ntufam Dr. Sandy Ojang Onor, Senator Ndoma-Egba & 3 Ors was called, the Honourable Justices of the Court of Appeal realized from the printed records of the Court and from the date the Tribunal’s ruling was delivered that the mandatory time frame stipulated by law for the filing and hearing of such appeals had lapsed.
Counsel to the appellants, Attah Ochinke Esq. was left with no other option than to withdraw the Appeal which was accordingly dismissed.
Similarly, the second appeal between Hon. Dr. Virginia Itam Abang & Barr. Sabastine Ubua Anyia & 3 Ors in Appeal No: CA/C/NAEA/233/2019 was mentioned for hearing. Both counsels for the appellants and respondents argued the appeal accordingly.
In its judgment, the Court of Appeal presided over by Honourable Justice Owoade, dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit on the grounds that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended), the Electoral Act (as Amended) and indeed the Rules of Procedure of the Election Petition Tribunal do not punish a Petitioner for being overzealous in applying for Pre-Hearing Notice on time but is only set out to punish indolent Petitioners who abandon their Petitions by not applying within the time