Senate yet to swear in Cross River senator-elect one month after Supreme Court verdict

Over a month after the Supreme Court declared him the winner of a senatorial election in Cross River, Arigbe Jarigbe is yet to be sworn-in by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan.

The apex court, on February 25, ordered that he should be issued a Certificate of Return by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and be sworn in as the senator representing Cross River North District.

This was contained in a copy of a judgment obtained by PREMIUM TIMES.

In the split decision, the apex court dismissed the appeal filed by Stephen Odey challenging the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which earlier declared Mr Jarigbe as the valid candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The PDP had won the December 5, 2020, bye-election held to replace Rose Okoh, who died last year.

Two conflicting judgements from courts in the Federal Capital Territory and Cross River State judiciary initially upheld Messrs Jarigbe and Odey respectively as the winner of the bye election.

However, an Abuja division of the Court of Appeal declared Mr Jarigbe as the duly nominated candidate of the PDP and the rightful winner of the election against Mr Odey, who was earlier declared by INEC and sworn in by the Senate.

The court also ordered the INEC to immediately issue a certificate of return to Mr Jarigbe and withdraw the one earlier issued to Mr Odey.

Dissatisfied with the judgement of the appellate court, Mr Odey approached the Supreme Court, which ruled against him.

Although the electoral body has complied with the Supreme Court judgment by issuing Mr Jarigbe a certificate of return, the senate president has refused to allow Mr Jarigbe to take his oath as a senator-elect.

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Mr Jarigbe said he had before now expressed confidence in Mr Lawan to comply with the judgment of the apex court and inaugurate him.

Speaking with journalists in Abuja, he said though his election into the Senate had witnessed serious opposition, the Supreme Court ruling on the matter has put an end to the disputes.

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He said that his opponent, Mr Odey, has been occupying the seat illegally, and urged the Senate President to stop him from attending plenary, stressing he was no more a member of the National Assembly.

When contacted, the spokesperson of the Senate, Ajibola Bashiru, said he was not aware of Mr Jarigbe’s plight.

“It must be an administrative issue,” he said, directing our correspondent to the Senate President.

All efforts to get the reaction of Mr Lawan did not yield any positive result as of press time.

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