CERTIFICATE OF RETURN: JARIGBE SUDDENLY HAS SOMETHING TO LOSE

BY Firsts Baba Isa (FBI)

In my estimation, Jarigbe Agom has battled for the senatorial seat of Cross River North from a position of advantage. He has been the candidate to beat; the one that has nothing to lose, in the context that his seat as member of the House of Representatives has always been there for him if he loses the battle for the senate.

But I think that has changed dramatically with his recent victory at the Court of Appeal which ordered INEC to issue him with a certificate of return as the candidate of the PDP at the last senatorial elections. INEC has already issued Jarigbe the certificate of return; so, Jarigbe is now the Senator-elect, de jure.

This is a victory; but it is a victory that has for the first time put the legislator at a “disadvantaged” position. He has a lot to lose now. A whole lot.

The PDP or Stephen Odey, as an interested party, can still appeal that Court of Appeal judgement with a likelihood of overturning it… the journey to the Election Tribunal is still there to travel, with any of the parties standing a good chance of winning or losing… now this is where it gets interesting.

Jarigbe has been issued with a certificate of return awaiting inauguration and swearing in as a senator. And once he takes the oath of office as a senator, his seat as a member of the House of Representatives will be vacant, to be filled only by a by-election. He cannot return to it if he loses at the Supreme Court or the Tribunal, unless via a by-election.

From where I stand looking at the chessboard, if I’m Stephen Odey, I will do everything for Jarigbe to be sworn in, thus pitting him against the forces of the unknown; and if I’m Jarigbe Agom I will do everything to avoid swearing in until the matter is decided by the Supreme Court and the Tribunal.

And if I were one of their lawyers, this is the time to… well, I’m not.

The days ahead will be interesting.

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