Why Ahmed Lawan Must Obey Court Order and Rein In Stephen Odey, By Omang Omang

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Why Ahmed Lawan Must Obey Court Order and Rein In Stephen Odey, By Omang Omang



Senate President Ahmed Lawan (Photo Credit: Punch Newspaper)

What is going on in the Senate, in the case of Stephen Odey and Rt. Hon. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, is an illegality taken too far. The Senate President is wrong and should retrace his steps to avoid bringing the institution of the legislature to disrepute.

It is obvious that from the judgements of the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court that Stephen Odey is no longer the senator Representing Cross River North, in the Senate.

It is a known fact that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has obeyed the judgement of courts and issued a Certificate of Return to Rt. Hon. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe (MHR), which automatically invalidates the Certificate of Return earlier issued to Stephen Odey, after the by-election.

The fact that the apex court has ruled on who was the authentic candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the Cross River North senatorial election is incontrovertible. The candidate remains Rt. Hon. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, as affirmed by the Supreme Court judgement which struck out the appeal filed by Stephen Odey, challenging the decision of the Appeal Court.

The appeal was struck out due to a defective Notice of Appeal, on February 25.

We should be reminded that Stephen Odey sought to be joined as an interested party to the suit and his request was granted at the Appeal Court. He went ahead and appealed the judgement of the Appeal Court at the Supreme Court.

He sought some reliefs from the apex court, including his affirmation as the authentic candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the December 5th, 2020 Senate by-election for Cross River North. The appeal of Stephen Odey at the Supreme Court was considered as Incompetent and subsequently struck out. However, Stephen Odey now claims that he was not part of the suit, which is an unfortunate attempt to approbate and aeprobate at the same time.

The man who took the appeal to the Supreme Court was Stephen Odey and not John Alaga, who was however one of the respondents at the Supreme Court.  Chief John Alaga lost his case at the Trial Court and the Appeal Court. The appellant at the Supreme Court was Stephen Odey, who lost the case to the respondents. On that note, the subsisting verdict of the Trial and Appeal Courts have been affirmed and yet to be upturned. They cannot be upturned because the judgement of the Supreme Court is final and infallible. This is the “truth” that is incontrovertible.

It is not the duty of the Senate to look at court judgements or interpret court judgements. The clerk of the Senate is supposed to verify the Certificate of Return issued by INEC and document the elected senator, in line with the Certificate of Return (latest in time) for swearing in. The Senate President’s duty is to act in line with the advice of the Clerk of the National Assembly, on the basis of the legal brief and advice of the legal department of the Nigerian parliament.

It is worthy of note that with the evidence before us, the legal department and the Clerk of the National Assembly have advised the Senate President to swear in Rt. Hon. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, in obedience to court judgements, INEC compliance and the issuance of a Certificate of Return to Jarigbe, and in total compliance with the rule of law.

The questions are: Is the Senate President competent to interpret judgements of courts, or question the actions of INEC? Can the Senate President possibly ask for the results of an election, before swearing in an elected senator, after a Certificate of Return has been issued to an elected senator? So why should the Senate President dwell on court judgements and the interpretation thereof, when there is a valid and authentic Certificate of Return Issued?

What is going on in the Senate, in the case of Stephen Odey and Rt. Hon. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, is an illegality taken too far. The Senate President is wrong and should retrace his steps to avoid bringing the institution of the legislature to disrepute.

The general public should advise Barrister Daniel Bwala, who has been hallucinating on this issue, to accept defeat, instead of prevaricating and coming up with half-truths. These are issues that would have been canvassed in court. At this point, it is too late to cry wolf. It is professional misconduct to attempt impugning and criticising a judgement of the Supreme Court, which is final and infallible.

The Case of Hon. (Mrs) Dorathy Mato V. Hon Iorwase Herman Hembe (2017) is a locus classicus on who the authentic candidate of a party is. Hembe was declared winner  by INEC but the Supreme Court gave the victory to Dorathy Mato, who took over the seat in the House of Representatives in 2015.  Both Hon. Herman Hembe and Hon. Dorathy Mato were members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the suite was a pre-election matter.

It is the party that contests elections and not the candidate. Rt. Hon Jarigbe Agom was declared winner of the PDP primary election, monitored by INEC, in line with section 85, 86 and 87 of the electoral act.

Rt. Hon Jarigbe Agom campaigned and took part in all stages of the election but Stephen Odey was erroneously declared winner. Many thanks to the judiciary, the last hope of our democracy. Rt Hon Jarigbe’s victory has been affirmed by the judgment of the Supreme Court.

The citations of Barrister Daniel Bwala are academic and inconsequential at this point. They can only apply in future litigations, if admissible. The Supreme Court is final and infallible.

Omang Omang, a practising lawyer, writes from Cross River.

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