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Ben Ayade’s Case Against Senator Jarigbe Is Doomed to Fail, Says Lawyer

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In the matter brought before the Senatorial Elections Petition Tribunal in Calabar by former governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade, against Senator Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, Mba Ukweni, SAN, legal counsel for the first respondent, Senator Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, has asserted that the case against Jarigbe’s election lacks sufficient grounds to succeed.

Mba Ukweni made this assertion during his final address to the tribunal, presided over by Justice M. A. Sambo, in Calabar.

Expounding on his arguments, Mr. Ukweni conveyed to the tribunal that both the foundational premises of the petition and the sought-after remedies were devoid of merit upon thorough examination.

The legal representative argued that the former governor, Ben Ayade, adopting the stance of winning the election while simultaneously pursuing its annulment, introduced a fundamental contradiction.

Moreover, he emphasized the perplexing and unconventional nature of endeavoring to secure a victorious position in the election while simultaneously petitioning the tribunal to invalidate the very same election.

The Senior Advocate went on to apprise the tribunal that the petitioners called upon a total of thirty-four witnesses to substantiate their claims and raised objections pertaining to the outcomes in 420 polling units. Nonetheless, Mr. Ukweni contended that even if the respondent were to abstain from presenting any witnesses, the petitioners’ case inherently falters, rendering it devoid of merit. He asserted that the case should consequently be dismissed due to its inherent lack of substance.

He maintained that the evidence by ThePressNGes contradicts their written statements on oath and cannot stand.

He further held that “The written statement on oath of ThePressNGes contained complaints of corrupt practices, violence, vote buying, inducement of voters and that these are serious criminal allegations and there is no single report from any security agency before the court”.

In his presentation, counsel to INEC, Habib Lawal told the tribunal to dismiss the petition in it’s entirety.

He held that before an election is invalidated, it must be on the basis of substantial non compliance.

He said in this case there is evidence that there are 874 polling units in Cross River North Senatorial District and the petitioners disputes results in 367 of them and called only 36 polling units agents which is of terrible insignificance.

He also told the tribunal that the commission did not withhold the BIVAS machine and never in the pleadings of the petitioners’ did they list the BIVAS machine as one of the evidence to be relied upon.

On his part, counsel to the PDP Ruben egwuaba told the court that all ThePressNGes called by the petitioners pleaded the presidential election results and not the Senatorial elections result and this makes their case Sui Generis.

He held that a party cannot plead a document and then during trial bring another document.

He prayed the tribunal to dismiss the petition on all grounds the petition was predicated with substantial costs.

On his part, Counsel to the petitioners, Professor Mike Ozekhome SAN prayed the tribunal to uphold their petition and also tongue lash INEC for committing serial acts of illegalities and seeking to take benefit and advantage from it.

He said the same INEC that gave them form EC8A is the same party arguing it should have been EC81 and that they used presidential instead of Senatorial form.

After to the listening to the arguments from both sides, the tribunal adjourned the matter, announcing that a date will be communicated to the parties for further consideration.

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