The Federal High Court, Calabar, on Monday ordered for the removal of Owan Enoh as the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Cross River State.
Mr Enoh’s name should be substituted with that of Usani Usani, the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, the court declared.
Mr Enoh, who is a serving senator from the state, has been engaged in a protracted battle with Mr Usani over the control of the APC in the state and also who, between the two of them, should fly the party’s flag in the March 2 governorship election.
Mr Enoh’s faction is backed by the APC national leadership.
The court judgement delivered by Justice Simon Amobeda directed the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC to submit Mr Usani’s name “immediately” to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s authentic governorship candidate.
The court also directed the NWC to accept the names of candidates for the Senate, House of Representatives, and the state assembly from Mr Usani’s faction and forward same to INEC.
The development has thrown the APC members and supporters in Cross River into confusion, because it is just four days to the National Assembly elections, while the governorship and the state assembly elections is 18 days from today.
An Abuja high court had in December last year delivered a similar judgment, affirming Godwin John, a member of Mr Usani’s faction, as the authentic chairman of the APC in Cross River State.
Ekpenyong Cobham, who leads Mr Usani campaign organisation, told PREMIUM TIMES, Tuesday, the federal high court judgment was “a declaratory judgment affirming the judgment of the Abuja high court”.
Mr Cobham said Mr Usani and the APC is prepared for the elections.
“Owan Enoh is functioning with a hired crowd,” he said. “We are in control of the original APC structures in every polling unit in the state.
“We have been very much on the ground, we have been campaigning and networking.
“Whatever Owan Enoh and his group are doing is not sustainable because it is not supported by the law,” Mr Cobham said.
The APC campaign council in the state, in its reaction to the development, said the latest court judgement was of no effect. Mr Enoh, they said, remains the APC governorship candidate in Cross River.
“We don’t have anything to do about it because their action is a nullity; it cannot change what INEC has already done,” Maurice Effiwat, the head of the APC campaign council in the state, told PREMIUM TIMES, Tuesday.
“The judgment was procured. Our spirit is not dampened, we saw it coming,” he added.
Mr Effiwat said the APC in the state had filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, against the Abuja high court judgment.
“When a case is in the Court of Appeal, do you go to a lower court to file a similar case? Is that not an abuse of court processes?” he said.
He said the judgement of the federal high court, Calabar, was the same in content with that of the Abuja high court.
“It is the national leadership of a party that organises primaries. It is not an APC thing, it is applicable to other parties as well,” Mr Effiwat said.
He said it was the national leadership of the APC that conducted the primaries that produced Mr Enoh as the party governorship candidate.
“We are going to appeal the (federal high court) judgement,” Mr Effiwat said.
“Usani is a minister, is he not supposed to resign one month to the election? Ask the DG of his campaign if he has resigned,” he added.
“As a journalist, you are very free to call the minister and ask him that question,” Mr Cobham, the head of Mr Usani’s campaign, responded when the PREMIUM TIMES reporter called him back on phone. “He (the minister) would be obliged to answer that question.”
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