The governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Cross River State on Thursday affirmed the victory Governor Ben Ayade the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the March 9, 2019 governorship election in the state.
Reading the judgment, the Chairman of the three-man tribunal, Justice Josiah Majebi dismissed all the pleas of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Senator John Owan-Enoh, saying the petition number EPT/CAL/GOV/01/2019 was a pre-election matter and the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain it.
“The petition failed and is accordingly dismissed. We hereby find that Prof Ben Ayade is duly elected as Governor of Cross River State in the March 9, 2019 governorship election,” Justice Majebi said after dismissing all the prayers of the petitioner.
Senator Owan-Enoh had asked the tribunal to among others, declare that he was unlawfully excluded from the election and that he was validly nominated by his party to contest the election and that the declaration of Governor Ayade as the winner of the election was wrongful and wants the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct a fresh election.
Justice Majebi said the petitioner “failed to establish the burden of proof that he was excluded from contesting the governorship election,” adding that the petitioner contested and scored some votes in the election and so he could not have been excluded, saying such grounds were “irreconcilable and diametrically opposed to each other.”
Reacting, Governor Ben Ayade dedicated his victory at the tribunal to God and the people of Cross River State.
He described the tribunal judgement as a mere reaffirmation of his resounding victory at the March 9, 2019 governorship poll.
The governor who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Christian Ita, shortly after the tribunal upheld his election, said he was not surprised at the verdict since his victory was never in doubt.
“As I did when I won the governorship election of March 9, by dedicating my victory to God, the great people of Cross River State and the Peoples Democratic Party family, let me once again rededicate today’s tribunal verdict which explicitly reinforced the will of the people to them.
“I had no doubt that I would emerge victorious at the tribunal. I have never lost faith or confidence in our judicial system. I was very confident that the tribunal would be diligent and upright in determining the petitions brought before it and it did just that today and I am happy, Cross Riverians are happy and I am sure that even the petitioners will be happy that the tribunal has acquitted itself.”
Insisting that the affirmation of his election by the tribunal will further embolden him to deliver on his campaign promises, Sir Ayade said, “Today’s judgement is no doubt a call for a redoubling of effort, energy, kinetics and gusto to consolidate on what my administration started four years ago, which is the aggressive industrialization of the state. Let me also quickly add that I will treat this victory at the tribunal with all the seriousness and urgency that comes with it. But more importantly, let me call on my brothers on the other side like I did when I was declared winner by INEC, to come and join me so that collectively, we can build the Cross River that we can all be proud of.”