From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Ogoja local government area of Cross River and one of the oldest provincial headquarters in the country has finally produced a Senator after 50 years.
Ogoja was the Provincial headquarters of Old Ogoja Province overing up to Abakaliki. But in 1969 Abakaliki Province was carved out of Ogoja and in 1996 Ebonyi state was created out of old Abakaliki covering up to Afikpo Division, leaving Ogoja as one of the remaining provinces without a state and even a former Senator.
Investigations show that of all the five local governemts areas that make up old Ogoja Province, only Ogoja has not produced a Senator as Yala, Obudu Bekwarra and Obanliku have all tasted the Upper legistive chamber
Consequent upon this , Ogoja people have for decades cried out over alleged marginalisation in elective and political appointments as well as in the distribution of projects even when they have supported zoning all these years.
But in a historic judgment on Friday, 30, 2021, the Court of Appeal panel sitting in Calabar declared Rt Hon Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, an Ogoja son, winner of the December 5, 2019 Cross River North Senatorial bye-election.
The three man Appeal Tribunal headed by
Hon. Justice Chioma Iheme-Nwosu and in Suit No CAL/C/NAEA/SEN/167/2021 dismissed an earlier ruling by the Tribunal which declared Senator Odey winner.
“INEC is ordered to issue a certificate of return to Jarigbe and that of Odey withdrawn. And the judgment of the election tribunal is hereby set aside”, the judge said.
The judgment was affirmed by the three members of the panel and no order was made as cost just as the court dismissed all the cross appeals.
In his reaction, the former House of Representative member, representing Ogoja/Yala federal constituency, Rt Hon Peter Igbodor, said: “I am highly elated. It’s been my dream to see an Ogoja son or daughter sit on the Red Chamber after managers of deprivation. And it has come to pass that Ogoja can now join the league of senators.
“We commend the Judiciary and every other stakeholders who have contributed to thsi long drawn battle that came to an end on July 30, 2021 following Appeal certifying Hon Jarigbe as the authentic winner of the bye-election.”
Also reacting, a former member of State PDP Working Committee, Chief Austine Edibe, said: “The decision of the Apeal Court is wonderful and has calmed frayed nerves of an average Ogoja person on the street. For decades we have been made slaves in the Northern Senatorial district and denied the Senatorial seat.
“In a build up to the 2019 general election, the stakeholders agreed that it was the turn of Ogoja to produce the next Senator. Again,politics played us out again and late Dr Rose Oko emerged.
“And when there was another opportunity following the death of Senator Rose Oko, from Yala came up, the powers-that-be again tried to deny us but we resisted leading to series of limitations.
“Today, the justice has been done to Ogoja people as the court has done the needful, leading to our son, Jarigbe, emergence as the next Senator of the zone after about fifty years of denial.”