A three man Panel of Appeal Court Judges presiding over case N0: CA/C/62/2019 and CA/C/70/2019 involving Etim John and others versus John Ochalla and others including Senator John Owan-Enoh representing other APC candidates in the 2019 elections, yesterday in Calabar, Capital of Cross River State withdrew from hearing the matter.
The judges who disqualified themselves from the case however, advised that the statusquo be maintained.
However, the issue of statusquo has remained controversial as supporters of Senator John Owan-Enoh say he remains the candidate while those of Pastor Usani Usani, both of the APC claim legitimacy to contest the Saturday’s gubernatorial election in Cross River.
The lead Judge, Justice Prof. S. A. Owoade had announced to the court that on arrival in his chambers this morning, he was “served with two petitions written by Etim John” on the matter. He shared copies of the petitions with counsels to the parties and asked for their reactions,
The two petitions were separately addressed to the President of the Court of Appeal as well as to National Judicial Commission, alleging that he has lost confidence in the Justice Owoade led panel of judges on the basis of an alleged N250million bribe.
The petition did not mention who paid the N250million bribe and to who in particular.
Council to Senator Owan-Enoh Awa Kalu (SAN) as well as Counsel to the All Progressive Congress, Mba Ukweni (SAN) tried to point out that the petitions should be ignored as the petitions were not dated and not properly routed by the petitioner. The Appellant counsel further argued that even the petition written to National Judicial Commission was a nullity because there was no entity as such in Nigeria. “It is a clear ploy to delay the case which had taken briefs of counsel and scheduled for hearing”, the Appellant counsel maintained.
Counsel to Etim John, Ayei Okpa, in his responds , said he is not aware of the petition from his client and asked that he be given time to consult with his client.
The court rose for ten minutes, and upon resumption of session, the Judges in their wisdom unanimously excused themselves from the matter.
Speaking with newsmen, a member of the team of Counsels to Senator Owan-Enoh, Bernard Afu Esq explained to Journalists that a new panel of judges will be appointed by the President of the Court of Appeal and that they will all return to court for the case.
The issue of who is the APC gubernatorial flag bearer in Cross River in the March 9th 2019 elections has remained controversial as supporters of Senator John Owan Enoh and those of the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Usani have continued to lay claims to who remains the authentic candidate for the Saturday’s election.
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