By Endurance Onun:
Immediate past Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly and People’s Democratic Party’s candidate for the 2019 Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency election, Rt. Hon. John Gaul Lebo has publicly reacted to the judgement delivered yesterday by an Appellate Court trying the pronouncements of the Election Tribunal Committee of September 4th, 2019, opining that the Appeal Court’s ruling was to his favor as it came on the heels of his initial prayers (7-9) brought before the lower court.
In his reaction, contained in a press statement dated 2nd November, 2019, signed by him and made available to CrossRiverDaily, the Former Speaker hinted that the cancellation of the election results of Ekureku Wards 1&2 was part of the prayers of the petition he brought before the Tribunal which was answered when the lower court nullified the said results, hence, for the Appeal Court to have upheld the nullity of the said Ekureku Wards 1&2 results, meant, he still triumphed at the Appeal Court and by implication, Egbona is no longer a member of the House of Representatives.
Recall that after the 23rd February election whereof Alex Egbona was declared a winner, John Gaul approached Tribunal to challenge Egbona’s victory. Recall also that The Tribunal, in its judgement delivered on 4th September annulled the outcome of the election in Ekureku Wards 1&2, a development which saw Gaul lead Egbona in total number of valid votes, reason for which The Tribunal declared Gaul the authentic winner of the 23rd February election and consequently ordering INEC to issue Certificate of Return to him. This, however, was challenged in an Appeal Court sitting in Calabar whose ruling, delivered yesterday, November 2nd, ordered INEC to conduct a by-election in Ekureku Wards 1&2 within ninety (90) days to determine the winner of the 23rd February’s exercise.
According to Gaul, “there is no cause for alarm as we are going into the rerun with a vote lead of 7971. This means that with the margin of advantage, we will convincingly still emerge victorious after the rerun. So there is really no reason for panic”.
Gaul went on to say; “The Appeal Court ruling, in line with our pleas, has proven that our opponent did not win the February 23rd election, hence the cancellation of the illegitimate 11,000 votes from Ekureku Wards 1&2 accrued to Egbona and the ordering of a rerun in those wards.
“We won the appeal and will still win at the rerun. This I assure the good people of Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency, supporters and party faithfuls. So, do not despair. Our mandate is still intact. It is definitely ending in praise!”
The House of Reps hopeful seized the occasion to applaud all his supporters and members of his party who stood with him in spite of all the challenges.
“Let me at this juncture commend the steadfast support from our teeming supporters and party faithfuls who throughout the trial period have demonstrated commitment and unalloyed loyalty.
“To the resilient party men and indeed supporters in Ekureku ward 1 & 2, your sacrifices were not in vain. You endured intimidation, persecution and all manner of victimization. Your travails in the hand of your traducers has not gone unrewarded and shall not go unrewarded. So brace up for the task ahead and fret not because you are not alone. For together, we shall conquer,” Rt. Hon. (Barr) John Gaul Lebo.