…Wants his opponent, Stephen Odey stopped from attending plenary
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
Member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe has expressed confidence in Senate President, Ahmed Lawan to comply with the recent judgment of the Supreme Court and inaugurate him as the Senator-Elect for Cross River North Senatorial District.
Speaking with Journalists in Abuja on Thursday, Jarigbe, a two-term member of the House, representing Ogoja/Yala federal constituency of the State said that even though his election into the Senate had witnessed serious opposition, the supreme court ruling on the matter has put paid to all the dissenting issues.
He said that his opponent, Stephen Odey has been occupying the seat illegally, praying the Senate President to stop him from attending plenary, stressing he was no more a member of the National Assembly.
He said: “The Supreme Court delivered that judgement of the 25th of February and it took us about two weeks to get the judgement signed by the judge that read the lead judgement. We have communicated that judgement to the leadership of the National Assembly through our lawyers. But it took sometimes for that file to get to the table of the Senate President. It only got to his table yesterday (Wednesday).
“There are a few people down the administrative line that decided to sit on that file for obvious reasons. With other members of the House, we moved in and spoke with the Clerk to the National Assembly, CNA and sought to know why the delay. My opponent who has been ousted by the judgement of the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court is still attending plenary. That is illegal because I have the certificate of return issued to me by INEC based on the judgement of the Appeal Court which invalidated his certificate of return and that has been transmitted to the National Assembly.
“We thought that with the Supreme Court judgement, there was going to be a resolution of this matter, but someone sat on it. But the CNA has taken it upon himself yesterday to investigate what was going on. The Deputy Clark of the National Assembly and the Director, Legal have given their advice. That prompted the CNA to advise the Senate President to swear me in and that file is before the Senate President and I know that he will comply with the judgement of the Supreme court.
“The fact that INEC issued me with a certificate of return means that they have complied with the judgement of the Courts and I am supposed to be sworn in. I know that the Senate President is on top of his game. I have been a parliamentarian for a couple of years and I know how it works here”.
Jarigbe also offered a clarification into an argument that the supreme court judgement did not outrightly ask his opponent to leave the Senate, but only talked about the primaries and the list of delegates in the primary.
“There were two Supreme Court judgements. The first had to do with the issue of delegate list and the party structure in the state which was decided on the 6th of January. It confirmed the delegate list that was used in conducting the primary where I emerged and monitored by INEC. The reports are there. The issue he is talking about is not known to the law when he says that he was not asked to vacate the Senate.
“If you were not the candidate of the party, how will you emerge as a Senator on the platform of the party? Can you put something on nothing and expect it to stand? We had a litany of pre-election issues. I had a judgement from a trial court and he had a judgement from another trial court, but INEC decided to take his own judgement because it operates on the principle of latest in time judgement which contradicts the principles of equity.
“In law, when there is two equal equity, the first in time prevails. I had my judgement on the 4th of November, he had his own on the 3rd of December. But maybe for administrative convenience, INEC operates on the latest in time. My own judgement was appealed against at the Appellate Court which upheld the consequential orders granted in my favour by the trial court which specifically stated that I should be accorded all the privileges and rights that are due to the authentic candidate of the party.
“INEC obeyed and issued me a certificate of return. Stephen Odey appealed that judgement at the Supreme Court. From the notice of appeal, the address of service did not carry my name or address and my lawyers told the court that being an originating summon, the respondent is supposed to be served personally. We came up with a motion to throw out the appeal based on that fundamental defect and the Supreme Court ruled that he had no case before them because it is an originating summon and the suit is defective, then the appeal is incompetent and they threw it out. So, the subsisting judgement is the judgement of the Appeal Court. Even a layman understands that judgement”, he said.
The lawmaker declared that no level of manipulations could stop his swearing-in, saying that the national assembly operates on virtues of integrity and recognition to rule of law.
“My opponent is new and thinks that these things can be manipulated at this level. As a rooky, you can think that certain things can be done because of the way things are run in the state. Back in Cross River state, there is so much impunity and he came here with that mentality and has been attending plenary when he is no more a Senator.
“I want the leadership of the Senate to look into this very critically. Whether or not I am sworn in immediately, the man who is attending plenary illegally should be stopped. I know and trust that the Senate Leadership will do the needful.
“This is a respected institution and I don’t see the leadership of the Senate disobeying a court judgement. We are legislators and we make law, while the Judiciary interprets and the Executive implements.
“The Judiciary has interpreted the law and the Executive through INEC has implemented by issuing me a certificate of return. The leadership of the senate will obey that interpretation. This is not an extension of Cross River state. The National Assembly is an institution of its own and no amount of money in a state can take over the National Assembly.
“I don’t need to have contact with the Senate President because he is the leader of the National Assembly. As a parliamentarian, I am not a first time member. I know him very well and I have his history of performance. I know he respects the rule of law and so, don’t need to go and see him. I think as a parliamentarian, the leadership will respect their own and the rule of law.
“It is not possible to sit tight when you are sacked. The issue is that you should not attend plenary when you are not a senator. If you do that, it is impunity and the laws are very straight on this issue”, Jarigbe stressed.