In a significant legal development, the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Cross River State has delivered a judgment that reaffirms the election victory of Governor Bassey Otu of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The tribunal struck out the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Senator Sandy Onor, citing a lack of merit.
The dispute stemmed from the declaration of Bassey Otu by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the March 18 poll in Cross River State. INEC’s official results placed Otu’s vote tally at 258,619, while Senator Sandy Onor reportedly secured 179,636 votes. Notably, Otu secured victories in an impressive 15 out of the 18 local government areas declared by the electoral commission in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State.
The Election Petition Tribunal, led by Justice Oken Inneh, thoroughly examined the claims put forth by the PDP and Senator Onor in suit No. EPT/CR/GOV02/2023. In the end, the tribunal dismissed all the reliefs sought by the petitioners and affirmed Governor Otu’s election win, as well as that of his deputy, Rt. Hon Peter Odey.
Following the tribunal’s ruling, Governor Bassey Otu extended an olive branch to his opponent, Senator Sandy Onor, urging him and the PDP to accept the outcome graciously. Governor Otu emphasized the importance of unity in Cross River State, stating that “Cross Riverians desire” a collaborative effort to rebuild and advance the state.
Governor Otu expressed his satisfaction with the tribunal’s judgment, praising the judiciary’s commitment to justice, fair play, and responsibility. He called upon all Cross Riverians, regardless of their political affiliations, to join hands with his administration in fulfilling the “People’s First” mandate.
He stressed, “If our dear State, Cross River, must be counted amongst the comity of States with a bright future and great economic potential and social security, then all hands must be on deck to make the lofty dream come true.”
Governor Otu concluded by thanking his party, the APC, and all Cross Riverians for their unwavering support before, during, and after the elections. He called for patience, unity, and collective efforts as the state works towards a better future, emphasizing the need for sacrifices and determination from all citizens.
This judgment not only solidifies Governor Bassey Otu’s position but also underscores the significance of adherence to democratic processes and the rule of law in Nigeria’s political landscape.