By; VITALIS UGOH , Calabar
The Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Calabar on Thursday was told how the Independent National nal Electoral Commission (INEC) removed the name of the former Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba from the list of candidates for the February 23, 209 National Assembly elections.
The former NDDC Chairman and APC Senatorial candidate for Cross River Central made this disclosure when he was being cross examined by counsels to the defendants, Dr Sandy Onor, Mr. Patrick Akan, that of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Joe Agi SAN and that of INEC, Professor Jacob Dada after his counsel Chief Emeka Offodile SAN leading 15 other lawyers.
He equally told the Tribunal that his name was also removed from the result sheet of INEC for the said election.
Ndoma-Egba had taken Dr Onor, the PDP and INEC to the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in the State over the February 23, 2019 Senatorial elections for Cross River Central which INEC declared Dr. Onor as the winner.
The Counsels to the Respondents had in their cross examination tried to establish that Ndoma-Egba was not excluded in the elections despite the letter from INEC and the various court rulings from the Federal High Court and the Appeal Court.
The lawyers pointed out that the letter from INEC removing the name of Ndoma-Egba and others from the list of candidates from APC was based on a Federal High Court order that was not set aside by any court.
But Ndoma-Egba maintained that he only voted for the presidential election saying, “I did not vote for myself in the election” (senatorial election) as INEC had earlier removed his name from the list of candidates despite an Order on February 20 from the Court of Appeal directing “all parties to maintain status quo”.
Relying on the letter from INEC, Ndoma-Egba said the Resident Electoral Commission in Cross River State, Dr Frankland Briyai, had on the eve of the February 23 election in a press briefing in INEC office, Calabar announced the removal of all APC candidates’ names from the list of candidates for the general elections pursuant to the court order with suit number FHC/HA/CS/731/2018 between Godwin Etim John & Another vs APC and Others.
Reading from the text of the briefing, he said, “the Commission pursuant to the order of court in the above matter has directed that the names of candidates submitted by the APC for Governorship, Senatorial, House of Representatives and State House of Assembly for Cross River State be removed from the list of candidates for the election in compliance with the said order.”
Ndoma-Egba went on to tell the tribunal that his name was absent from the list of candidates up to February 22 and was restored on March 8 through a letter by INEC.
The letter by the National Headquarters of INEC dated March 8 and signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Mrs. Rose Oriaran-Anthony to the State Resident Electoral Commissioner reads, “the Commission pursuant to the order of court (Appeal Court) in the above matter has directed that the list of candidates submitted by the APC in respect of Governorship, Senatorial, House of Representatives and House of Assembly elections for Cross River State which were earlier removed from the list of candidates pursuant to the judgement of the Federal High Court in suit No: FHC/CA/CS/73/2018-Hon Etim John and Anor versus APC and Ors, be reverted onto the list of candidates for the elections.
“You are requested to update your record with respect to the above in view of the final list of candidates earlier forwarded to you, please”.
After an exhaustive session that lasted for about four hours, counsel to Ndoma-Egba asked for an adjournment to next week so that he could present other subpoenaed witnesses. After due consultation with counsels to the defendants, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Vincent Agbata adjourned the matter to June 19 for further hearing.