Cross River Bye-election: Ayade’s Aide Faults INEC’s Issuance of Certificate of Return to Jarigbe

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  • Says litigations still ongoing

By Alex Enumah

The Director-General of Cross River State Due Process and Price Intelligence Bureau, Mr. Alphonsus Eba, on Monday faulted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for issuing a Certificate of Return to Hon. Jarigbe Jarigbe as the winner of the Cross River North Senatorial bye-election held on December 5, 2020.

Jarigbe and Senator Stephen Odeh — both of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — are currently in a legal battle for the Cross River North Senatorial seat.

The battle is tearing the party along two major lines with the Jarigbe faction being accused of sponsorship by a governor in the South-south described as the “Governor General of PDP”.

INEC had initially issued a Certificate of Return to Odey, who was declared winner of the December 5 bye-election in Cross River North Senatorial district.

However, the electoral umpire said it relied on a court judgment in Abuja to issue another Certificate of Return to Jarigbe.

Speaking with journalists in Abuja over the issue and some recent development rocking the PDP in the state, Eba noted that the right of appeal has not been exhausted before INEC rushed to issue the certificate to Jarigbe.

Eba, who is also aspiring to be the next Chairman of Cross River State PDP, said the electoral body ought not to have issued a certificate of return to Jarigbe since the issue of jurisdiction of the court was been challenged.

According to him, internal matters of a political party are outside the jurisdiction of the court except when a breach of the fundamental rights of a member or aspirant occurs, which he noted, was not the case before the court.

“There is one big man once you cross the river to the other state, Rivers State, I am sure, we call him the Governor-General of PDP.

”He is very respected and dogged governor of the state, I am sure he has some scores to settle with the governor of the state.

”In politics, I think like a man who wants the party to be united, he must see to the unity of the party because Cross River is a sovereign state like Rivers State and we expect that he should not stoke the fire in the state because he is one man whom we respect very much in PDP as our leader because he has fought a lot of battles for us.

”Recently, he was in Edo State to help us get that very big victory, so, he is highly respected. We call on him to sheathe his sword. This is not the time for settlement of scores in Cross River state,” Eba said.

On the judgment of the Supreme Court, he said the apex court, in its judgment delivered on January 6, 2021 in the appeal brought before it by the PDP and Col. Austin Akobundu did not go into the merit of appeal.

He explained that the Supreme Court only dismissed the appeal on the basis of the preliminary objections raised by Jarigbe, who is the first respondent in the appeal, adding that the real issue is currently before the Calabar Division of the Federal High Court.

He stated that PDP remains a strong united front in the state and that most of the decisions reached are by consensus of all members.