The Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar over the 2019 election tribunal judgements, on Thursday awarded a punitive cost, totalling N600, 000 against the former Minister for Niger Delta, Usani Usani.
He is to be paid N200, 000 each to the three respondents in the Appeal number CA/C/NAEA/GOV/414/2019 filed by himself as the appellant.
The three respondents in the case respectively was the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Governor Benedict Ayade and The Peoples’ Democratic Party.
Usani had paraded himself as a factional candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the 2019 Governorship Election in Cross River State even when INEC in her published list of candidate recognized Senator John Owan-Enoh as the flagbearer of the APC in the state.
In a unanimous judgement, the five man Appeal panel preceded over by Justice Adzira Gana Mshelia described Usani his appeal as a gross abuse of court processes, academic and hypothetical.
The Court acknowledged that Usani was not the governorship candidate of APC on March 9, 2019 election and that was at best a meddlesome interloper.
The Judgement in parts read thus: “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 were 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”.
In his reaction to the judgement, Governor Ben Ayade through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Christian Ita said the victory was an affirmation of the mandate overwhelmingly given to him by the people of Cross River State.
He, therefore, dedicated the victory to God and the people of the state.
Ayade again extended an olive branch to his opponents in other political parties to join hands with him in moving the state forward.
“The period of politics is over, it is time for governance,” Ita quoted the governor as saying.
The Governor reaffirmed his commitment to developing the state and creating an economy that will ensure financial independence for the state through industrialization and provision of 1st class infrastructure.
The authentic Governorship candidate of the APC in the March 9th elections in the state, Senator John Owan Enoh had since conceded defeat after his petition filed at the Election Petition Tribunal, failed. He did not appeal.