Former Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN, has hailed the ruling of the Court of Appeal, which dismissed the suit instituted by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and it’s gubernatorial candidate, Senator Sandy Onor, seeking the disqualification of the standard bearer of the All Progressives’ Congress, APC, in the 2023 Cross River State governorship election, Senator (Prince) Bassey Otu.
The legal luminary and ardent supporter of Otu’s gubernatorial ambition said that the judgment was not unexpected as, according to him, there is no ambiguity in the law regarding the fact that a non-member of a political party has no locus standi to meddle into the affairs of the party and challenge what happens therein.
The former chairman of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, said, “The Court of Appeal’s verdict dismissing the case filed against the APC governorship candidate in Cross River State by the PDP and its candidate was a welcome development. The judgment was not unexpected because the law is very clear. And so, we expected nothing less. If you are not a member of a political party, you don’t have the right to complain of what transpires in the party. For us, this is another irritation out of the way of victory for Prince Bassey Otu come March 11, 2023.”
Onor and the PDP had appealed the judgement of the lower court that threw out the suit seeking the disqualification of Otu, the APC gubernatorial flag bearer and his running mate, Rt. Hon. Peter Odey, on the grounds that Odey, apart from not being a member of the APC, was also a British citizen.
In a unanimous decision by the three judges of the appellate court, Justices R.C Agbo, O.F Omoleye and B.B Aliyu, the court submitted in it’s judgment, delivered by Justice Omoleye that “the domestic affairs of a political party is an internal issue of that political party and the court will not dabble into the internal affairs of any political party.
“The issue of leadership and membership of political parties is an internal affair of a political party, and the court will not interfere in it. The court therefore, cannot be dragged into the internal issue of whether the 3rd defendant, Rt. Hon. Odey, is a member of the 1st defendant, APC or not. This therefore means that the action of the appellants, Onor and PDP, is not justiceable. This matter is therefore struck out for lacking in merit and a cost of N500,000 awarded against the appellants.”
Prince Otu, believed to be the leading gubernatorial candidate in Cross River State, was a member of the green chamber of the National Assembly from 2003 to 2011, before moving up to the red chamber in 2011 and represented Cross River South senatorial district, up to 2015, during which time he was chairman and member of various Senate committees in the Red Chamber between 2011 and 2015, during which time made valuable inputs to debates on national issues and meaningfully affected the lives of the people of his constituency with the execution of several projects and empowerment programmes.