An inaugural session to signal the beginning of sitting by the National and State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal, following the by-election held in Cross River State on December 5 last year, began yesterday in Calabar.

The three-man tribunal presided over by Justice Yusuf Ubale Muhammad as chairman and Justices John Olajide Abe and Ngele Gilbert Alo as members one and two, welcomed parties with cases before them to the court.

In his inaugural speech, the tribunal chairman said three petitions were initially received and filed before the tribunal following the December 5, 2020 by-election conducted for Cross River North Senatorial District.

He said: “The petition N0: EPT/CR/SEN/01/2020 filed by Allied Peoples Movement (APM) against INEC & 2Ors was withdrawn and therefore struck out on January 12, following amicable settlement between the parties.”

Another motion “seeking to withdraw the second Petition N0: EPT/CR/SEN/02/2020 filed by Gregory Agam and the African Democratic Congress Vs Stephen Adi Odey & 3 Ors, was taken today and struck out following amicable settlement between the parties.”

After that the tribunal took on the third petition N0: EPT/CR/SEN/03/2020 filed by Joe Odey Agi and the All Progressives Congress Vs. Stephen Adi Odey & 3 Ors for pre-hearing.

However, the pre-hearing was stalled after counsel to the petitioner, Muhammad Shiebu, noted that he had received respondents’ reply from the second to fourth respondents, namely Jerigbe Agom Jerigbe (2nd), Independent National Electoral Commission- INEC (3rd) and Peoples Democratic Party (4th), but was yet to receive the reply from the 1st respondent – Stephen Odey.

At the instance of the counsel to Stephen Odey of the PDP, Mr. Offiong Offiong Esq, the tribunal and parties in the case accepted the plead for an adjournment to enable him file the 1st respondent’s reply to the petition.

The tribunal adjourned the case till February 22 for pre-hearing.

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