By Godiya Garba
Arising from what it described as inaccurate media reportage of the Cross River North Senatorial tussle before the Supreme Court, the Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness has explained that, the Certificate of Return earlier issued to Dr. Steve Odey has not been withdrawn.
Addressing the media in Abuja Monday morning, the Director General of the Centre, Dr. Gabriel Nwambu also explained that the the apex court did not declare the seat vacant but simply ruled on the preliminary issue of service that was before it.
Justifying his concern in the matter, Dr. Nwambu said as an organization whose core values is on Good Governance, they x-rayed it’s observation on the 25th February, 2021 judgement of the Supreme Court between Senator Dr. Steve Odey, a serving Senator representing Cross River North Senatorial District and Hon. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, headed by 7 eminent jurists. Four Justices to three.
Part of the text of his briefing reads:
“We wish to state that the supreme court did not rule on the substantive appeal of the matter, instead, it ruled on preliminary objection about improper service by substituted means, whereas, the same Supreme Court granted an order that the parties be served via substituted means and all the parties were in court.
“The Supreme Court did not nullify the certificate of return of the serving senator, Dr. Odey, neither was the seat declared vacant. In other words, it is pertinent to also state clearly that the Supreme Court did not sack Dr. Odey. Of course such powers do not reside with the Supreme Court. It is the election tribunal which can rule on such matters before it currently.
“Again, as a coalition, we have pondered on the entire matter and even wondered if the Judiciary is really the hope of the common man consequent to some observations in the supreme court on the 25th of February, 2021.
“The situation here is very clear. Section 285 (13) of the 1999 constitution as amended clearly state “that no tribunal or court shall declare any person winner of an election when he has not participated in all the stages of that election”.
“Two fellows are involved here. One contested an election, the other did not, but wants to truncate justice, lie on oath, deceive Judges and fraudulently obtain judgment in his favour. A situation where an individual run from one court in Port Harcourt to another in Calabar and then to the FCT High Court, all in a bid to fraudulently obtain Judgement. This is further worsened by the fact that all these courts have no Jurisdiction over the matter.
“We would then wish to ask if the Judiciary is for buying and selling. If the judiciary is for the money bags. If the judiciary is for the highest bidder? This further explains why President Mohammadu Buhari had made a genuine and concerted efforts towards reforming the Nigeria Judiciary as a formidable arm of government. Little wonder the Judiciary still tops the chat as one of the most corrupt government institutions in Nigeria”, the Centre emphasised.
Further picking holes in the judgement, the Centre wondered if this kind of incidence where a man who did not contest election has come to contest the seat of a Senator who has been sworn-in describing it as completely absurd and worse than Boko-Haram, banditry as well as kidnapping put together.
The rest of his address said:
“We also wondered the interest of the Governor of a state in the politics of another state. Why the gang-up? His offence; he contested and won an election…This trend definitely is not healthy for our democracy.
“By this medium we wish to commend the Principal Officers of the 9th Senate ably led by the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan, as a man of impeccable character who has demonstrated unrelenting support for our democracy for standing firm in the defence of justice in spite of so much pressure by some clandestine groups to indulge in injustice, thereby truncating the height already attained as true democrat he is.
“The legal department is hereby commended for insisting on legal and legitimate due process as far as the Senate is concerned. Nigerians are indeed watching with keen interest the desperate disposition of some politicians who should not be found in the corridors of power.
“Lastly, we wish to re- emphasize that Senator Dr. Steve Odey is still the Senator representing Cross River North Senatorial District as his seat was not declared vacant neither was his certificate of return nullified by any court of competent jurisdiction in Nigeria”.
It could be recalled that about a fourth night ago, the Centre which is a coalition of over 100 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) discussed the role of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Judiciary in the electoral system during which it focused squarely on strengthening institutions of government in order to continuously sustain the deepening of democracy in Nigeria.