Anxiety in C’Rivers as S’Court Delivers Judgment Friday on Case Challenging Ayade’s Candidacy in 2015 Poll

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Bassey Inyang in Calabar

Anxiety has enveloped the political space in Cross River State following the expected judgment by the Supreme Court scheduled for December 9, 2016 in a pre-election matter filed by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Joe Agi, challenging Governor Ben Ayade’s qualification to contest the 2015 governorship election as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In the suit no.SC256/2016 pending before the Supreme Court, Agi who came second to Ayade during the PDP governorship primaries, is alleging that Ayade lied about his date of birth by supplying false information and conflicting age declaration documents, on oath, to the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), thereby committing perjury.

Agi is also praying the court to declare him the rightful candidate of the party who was duly returned at the 2015 governorship election held on April 11, 2015.

When the matter came up for hearing September 27, the PDP through its counsel, Mr. N. Ibegbulam, denied Ayade and aligned themselves with the submission and prayers of Agi, who is praying the court to declare that Ayade was not qualified to be fielded as candidate of the PDP.

Counsel to Ayade, Wole Olanikpeku (SAN), had countered the argument of the PDP’s counsel, saying he was raising a fresh issue altogether and urged the apex court to reject the prayers the PDP who had aligned themselves with Agi’s prayers.

After listening to the arguments of the counsel in the matter including Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who defended Ayade, the panel justices led by Justice Bode-Rhodes Vivour, reserved judgment for December 9.
Reacting to the development, the IPAC in the state called on the NJC to probe the rejection of Ayade by the PDP counsel at the Supreme Court, saying the development was strange.

THISDAY findings indicated that despite the visible anxiety among his supporters, Ayade has remained composed and has been going about the normal running of the state’s affairs with extra vigour.

There has been no official comment about the impending judgment from the state government, but some of the governor’s aides and public servants who confided in THISDAY said they were very anxious and tensed up.

However, they prayed and hoped that Ayade would emerge victorious at the Supreme Court, just as he did at the High Court and the Appeal Court.
Supporters of Agi have been holding prayers on weekly bases for the victory of their principal at the Supreme Court.

THISDAY also gathered that some supporters and close aides of Ayade and Agi have relocated to Abuja ahead of the judgment.