Cross River: INEC re-affirms John Owan-Enoh as APC governorship candidate
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday at a renewed sitting of the Governorship Elections Petition Tribunal in Calabar, Cross River, reaffirmed the nomination of Senator John Owan Enoh as the lawful candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the March 9 governorship election.
The commission, while arguing in a suit no EPT/CAL/COV01/2019, however, said “Sen. Enoh was not excluded from the elections as claimed by the petitioner since he participated in the exercise having been re-listed.”
Senator Owan Enoh had petitioned the electoral umpire, which is the Second Respondent and Governor Ben Ayade, the First Respondent in the matter alleged unlawful exclusion from the election.
Counsel to INEC, Dele Adeshina had stated that “Sen. Enoh was the duly nominated candidate of the APC and that the commission had issued a letter dated 8th March to that effect.
Apparently smarting from the petition, Adeshina said “the candidate, however, participated in the election and so was not excluded.”
In his argument, Counsel to Sen. Enoh, Awa Kalu (SAN), said the petitioner would not have participated in an election if he was excluded.
According to him, the issue of faction as raised by the first respondent Counsel does not exist in internal democracy especially when it has to do with the sponsorship or nomination of candidates.
He contended that “the issue of factions applies only in the parliament when there’s a crisis within a party leading to cross-carpeting by legislators and not on the basis of nomination of candidates for election.
He averred that ”Sen. Owan Enoh was duly nominated for the Governorship election by his party but was unlawfully excluded for the March 9 polls by the commission”.
The legal luminary, however, challenged the first and second respondents to be the first to prove otherwise, the petition on exclusion stressing that INEC had never argued against a phone call made by the State Electoral Commissioner (REC) at 12 pm on the elections day congratulating the petitioner for being relisted as the APC Candidate for the race.
Counsel to Sen. Ayade, Paul Erokoro (SAN) had argued that “though the Petitioner was nominated for the election but his nomination was done by a faction of his party”.
Justice Josiah Majebi has put the ruling on the onus of proof on exclusion or otherwise for Tuesday, March 17th 2019.