By Toby Prince
A former senate leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, has told the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Calabar, Cross River State, that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) removed his name from the list of candidates for the February 23, 2019, National Assembly elections.
While being cross-examined by counsel to the defendants ¬– Dr. Sandy Onor, Mr. Patrick Akan, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s Joe Agi (SAN) and INEC’s Professor Jacob Dada – after his counsel, Chief Emeka Offodile, who led 15 other lawyers, the former chairman of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) equally told the tribunal that his name was also removed from INEC’s result sheet.
Ndoma-Egba had taken Onor, PDP and INEC to the tribunal over the February 23 Cross River Central senatorial election. INEC had declared Onor winner of the contest.
Counsel to the defendants had, in their cross-examination, tried to establish that Ndoma-Egba participated in the elections despite the letter from INEC and the various rulings from the Federal High Court and Appeal Court, and that the letter from INEC removing the name of Ndoma-Egba and others from list of candidates from APC was based on a court order.
But Ndoma-Egba maintained that he only voted for the presidential election. “I did not vote for myself in the (senatorial) election,” he argued.
INEC had earlier removed his name from the list of candidates despite an order on February 20 from the court of Appeal directing “all parties to maintain status quo”.
Relying on the letter from INEC, Ndoma-Egba said the Cross River Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. Frankland Briyai, had on the eve of the February 23 election in a press briefing in INEC office, Calabar, announced the removal of all APC candidates’ names from the list of candidates for the general election, in pursuant to a court order with suit number FHC/HA/CS/731/2018 between Godwin Etim John vs the APC and others.
Ndoma-Egba went on to tell the tribunal that his name was absent from the list of candidates up to February 22 and was restored on March 8 through a letter by INEC.
After an exhaustive session that lasted about four hours, lead counsel to Ndoma-Egba asked for adjournment till next week, so that he could present other witnesses subpoenaed.
Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Vincent Agbata, after consulting counsel to the defendants, adjourned the matter till June 19 for further hearing.