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Sandy Onor VS Prince Otu: Ozekhome urges court to dismiss case, give heavy cost on appellant

The matter between the PDP governorship candidate, Sen. Sandy Onor and that of his APC counterpart, Sen Prince Bassey Edet Otu came up today for hearing at the Court of Appeal, Calabar Judicial Division.

Sen. Onor had appealed the case he earlier dragged the APC, Sen. Bassey Otu, his deputy, Hon. Peter Odey and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC as 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondents, having lost at the court of first instance. He alleged that the 3rd defendant apart from not being a member of the APC, also holds a dual citizenship.

Entering his arguments, counsel to the appellant, First Baba Isa, informed the court that there was a difference between defection and resignation from a political party and that since the 3rd defendant failed to resign his membership of the first appellant, PDP, the court should disqualify him from participating in the March 11 governorship election.

On the issue of dual citizenship, Barr. Baba Isa prayed the court to rely on documents they had filed before the court, asking that the candidate should not be allowed to participate in the elections.

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In response to the appeal, by way of preliminary objections  earlier filed, Essien Andrew, SAN, counsel for the 1st defendant, APC, informed the court that the issue of resignation being different from defection was new and that it was being heard for the first time. He said, the 3rd respondent having decamped from PDP to APC has ceased to be member of the appellant. He therefore, urged the court to strike out the matter.

Also responding, counsel to the 2nd and 3rd defendant, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, urged the court to “strike out the matter with a very heavy cost so that they will not come back again” he posited that just last week, this very Court of Appeal, Calabar division, had handed down a judgement that you cannot come from another party and know what is happening in a different party. The respected Senior Advocate of Nigeria said, in any case, neither the PDP nor Sen. Onor was an aspirant during the APC governorship primaries as provided for in the new electoral act, 2022, and therefore lacks locus to institute the matter.

On the issue of dual citizenship, the learned silk submitted that, it was the same appeal court that decided the matter in which the 3rd defendant was a party that once you are a Nigerian citizen by birth, you cannot loose your right as a citizen because you have acquired the another country’s citizenship whether by registration or nationalisation.

He described the case as a good one and hoped that by the grace of God, the court will find the merits of the matter and deliver a favourable judgement, calling the appellant (i.e Sandy Onor and PDP) as hired mourners, weeping more than the bereaved.