GOVERNOR BEN AYADE AGAIN FLOORS CECILIA OMONYA
The Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, yesterday, on Monday, 6th February, 2023, notched on another victory at the Court of Appeal Abuja Division, in appeal No. CA/ABJ/CV/1394/2022 by Cecilia Omonya Adams, a participant at the May 28 primaries of the APC, Cross River State. She had scored zero votes at the said elections, but refused to participate in the fresh APC primaries conducted on 14th July, 2022, for the Cross River North Senatorial District towards the 2023 General Elections.
Cecilia Omonya Adams, the Appellant at the Court of Appeal, had previously lost the suit she instituted as Plaintiff at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, where she unsuccessfully sought to challenge the candidature of Gov. Ben Ayade towards election into the National Assembly, at the Senatorial level.
The Court of Appeal panel, presided over by Hon. Justice Stephen Jonah Adah (with Justices…), delivered the unanimous decision of the Court, in the appeal argued for Ayade by Prof. Mike Ozekhome, SAN. It was upheld that the decision of Hon. Justice N.E. Maha of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, and dismissing the Appeal which had sought to dismiss the Judgment of the trial Court and grant the reliefs sought in its originating summons, amongst which was to order INEC to recognize, accept and publish her Cecilia Omonya Adams’ name as the candidate of the APC for the Cross River North Senatorial District.
The Appellant had, through an Originating Summons filed on 26th July, 2022, approached the Federal High Court, Abuja, praying amongst other, for “AN ORDER of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st Defendant (INEC) their agents, servants, affiliates or privies from recognizing and dealing with the 2nd and 3rd Defendants, or any other person, as the 2nd Defendants candidate for the Cross River North Senatorial District election in the forthcoming National Assembly elections to be held on the 25th February, 2023 (or any other date that may be fixed).” Also joined as co-Respondents with Ayade in the Appeal challenging the APC primaries were APC, Martin Orim and INEC (the 1st, 2nd and 4th Defendants respectively).
The 2nd Defendant, Martin Orim, had earlier won the 28th May, 2022 Senatorial primaries; but later resigned to enable fresh primaries to be conducted by INEC. It was from this fresh primaries that Ayade emerged as the sole contestant and winner on 14th July, 2022, all of which were in strict compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
Ayade had through his counsel, Prof. Ozekhome, SAN, argued before the Federal High Court, Abuja, that Cecilia Omonya Adams was not entitled to the reliefs sought before the court. The trial court rightly agreed with him and dismissed the claims of Adams in its entirety, in view of the fact that the 2nd Respondent (Martin Orim) duly complied with the provision of section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2022, in validating his withdrawal process from the Cross-River Senatorial District 2023 General Election; and that the 1st Respondent (APC) also fully complied with the provisions of Section 33 of the Electoral Act, 2022, in organising fresh primaries.
Dissatisfied with the judgment of the trial court, Adams proceeded to the appellate court, seeking to overturn the decision of the lower court. The Court of Appeal, in its judgment delivered on Monday 6th February, 2023, dismissed the appeal in its entirety and upheld the decision of the lower court, stating that since the decision of the lower court was not perverse as it reflected the true position of the law, the appellate court had no business interfering with such a judgment.
The Court of Appeal also held that the law was clear. Section 33 of the Electoral Act, 2022 provides for a situation (as the one before the court) where a party in compliance with the Electoral Act duly held fresh elections. The Appellant who was not a participant in that fresh election could not be heard to complain about the result of such election.
In its conclusion, the panel stated that the judgment of the lower court captured the facts of the case and the position of the law. And that where the facts and laws are properly captured, the Court of Appeal has no business interfering with such a decision. The court concluded thus: “we stand by the decision of the lower court to hold that the appeal lacks in merit and is accordingly dismissed”.