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Appeal Court Affirms Ayade’s Victory

The Court of Appeal, Calabar Division, has affirmed the victory of Ben Ayade, Governor of Rivers State, in the Cross River State governorship election.

In a unanimous judgement, the five-man Appeal panel, presided over by Justice Adzira Gana Mshelia, dismissed the petition filed by Usani Usani, a factional candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election.

Usani, a former minister of Niger Delta, had claimed he was a factional candidate of the APC in the 9 March governorship election, while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recognized Senator John Owan-Enoh as the candidate of the APC in the state.

The APC member had in his suit, marked CA/C/NAEA/GOV/414/2019, had approached the appellate court after his petition at the election tribunal claiming that he was the validly elected governor who was excluded from the process was dismissed.

Usani had instituted his case against INEC, Governor Ayade and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

But in its ruling on Friday, the appellate court struck out the case, describing it as an abuse of court processes.

Justice Mshelia also ordered Usani to pay N200,000 each to the three respondents as compensation.

The judgment partly read: “The preliminary objection of the 1st Respondent succeeded on the grounds that the Appellants’ Brief was filed out of time for which the appeal was liable to be dismissed for want of prosecution. I have further considered the appeal on the merit as though there was a valid competent Appellants’ Brief on which the appeal is prosecuted and I have resolved all the issues in favour of the Respondents.

“The concatenation is that the appeal on whatever score must be dismissed. The appeal is accordingly dismissed and the decision of the Tribunal delivered on 12th September 2019 is hereby affirmed. The Respondents are entitled to the cost of this appeal which I assess and fix at N200, 000 in favour of each of the 1st Respondent on one hand and the 2nd and 3rd Respondents on the other hand.”

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