Judex Okoro, Calabar

The legal battle to determine the authentic Cross River governorship candidate of the APC continues to gather momentum as the three-man appeal panel adjudicating on the matter has withdrawn over alleged N250m bribe scam.

Senator John Owan-Enoh and Pastor Uanu Usani, have been locked in a battle of supremacy since the conduct of the party primary in the state.

The three judges sitting in Calabar on Tuesday excused themselves from the case following petitions against them by the Godwin the Etim John led-faction of the party.

But the court, however, insisted that its last week’s order for stay of execution or maintenance of status quo ante on the candidacy of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Cross River State subsists.

By this action, Sen. John Owan Enoh and other candidates of the party whose names were submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the National Working Committee and listed by INEC remain the candidates of the party in Cross River State for the governorship and state Assembly elections on Saturday, March 9, 2019.

The lead judge, Justice Prof. S. A. Owoade, had announced to the court that upon arriving in his chambers that morning, he was served with two petitions written by Etim John.

The two petitions were separately addressed to the President of the Court of Appeal as well as to National Judicial Commission, (a non-existing commission) alleging that he had lost confidence in the Justice Owoade-led panel of judges on the basis of alleged N250million graft.

The petition did not mention who paid the N250million graft and to who in particular.

Counsel to Senator Owan-Enoh, Awa Kalu, (SAN), as well as counsel to the All Progressives Congress, Mba Ukweni (SAN), argued that the petitions should be ignored as it was not dated and not properly routed.

The appellant counsel further pointed out that even the petition written to the National Judicial Commission was a nullity because there was no entity as such in Nigeria.

“It is a clear ploy to delay the case which had taken briefs of counsel and scheduled for hearing,” the appellant counsel maintained.

Counsel to Etim John, Ayei Okpa, in his response, fended ignorance of the petition from his client and asked that he be given time to consult with him.

After listening to all parties in the suit, the judges unanimously rescued themselves from the matter

Speaking, the spokesperson for Senator John Owan Enoh Governorship Campaign Organization, Mr Dan Amor, said: “Pastor Usani, Uguru Usani, has no locus standi to parade himself as the candidate of the party in Cross River State.

“He does so at the risk of being arrested by security agents who have been duly informed of the development by the party leadership,” he stated.