Tension In Calabar Over Alleged Moves To Doctor Deputy Governor's British Citizenship Documents

Jul 13, 2023 - 14:09
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Tension In Calabar Over Alleged Moves To Doctor Deputy Governor's British Citizenship Documents

By Our Reporter 

There is Palpable tension within the political class, especially politicians involved in the ongoing Gubernatorial Election Petition Tribunal case, over alleged moves to doctor the British Citizenship documents of the Deputy Governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress ( APC), Hon.Peter Odey.

Odey and Sen. Bassey Otu were declared winner by INEC in the Saturday, March 18, governorship election.

Not satisfied with the outcome, Sen. Sandy Onor of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) approached the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal to seek nullification of the declaration on the grounds of alleged irregularities.The petition was filed on April 4, 2023 with Suit No: EPT/CR/GOV/03M/2023.

At the Tribunal, facts are emerging that Odey is said to be a British citizen even as he claimed he was given a waiver as stated in his INEC form. During the days proceeding, the petitioners presented more documents to the tribunal to prove their case.

 Some of the documents tendered include the British Nationality Act 1981, Citizenship Oath/Pledge, Home Office Form AN4 - Application for Naturalization as a British Citizen and the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act of 2002 as well as Citizenship Ceremonies (an attachment of the AN Application Form for Citizenship Acquisition).

Others are Declaration Form (an excerpt of the British Nationality Act 1981), Home Office Form AN Form (Application for Naturalization as a British Citizen) and Guide AN Naturalization Booklet: The Requirements & the Process.

One of the subpoenaed witnesses of the petitioners, Olusegun Thompson, a lawyer and expert in Immigration Law, gave an expert opinion on the British Citizenship of the third respondent which he adopted on oath.

During Cross examination by counsel for INEC, K.O.Balogun, he said that under Section 42(2) of the British Naturalization Act, every qualified applicant must take the Oath of allegiance before his certificate of British Citizenship is issued.

He said the third respondent, Hon Odey, already said he has a waiver from taking the Oath through his Form EC9 but to his knowledge nobody has ever been granted that waiver.

 Shortly after the Immigration Law expert, Olusegun Thompson, had testified, sources close to the Tribunal and APC Election Tact Team revealed that moves are on to see how the documents tendered by Thompson can be countered and possibly get purported clearance from British Home Office.

The source disclosed that Odey and his team are working round the clock to subvert justice as they are already making moves to reach out to some powerful Nigerians living in London to lobby and see how they get real waiver for him with regard to his oath of allegiance to being a British citizen.

The source revealed that the legal team and some powerful APC stalwarts, who claim they have contacts in London, are said to be working round the clock to concoct just anything to save their case.

 On getting wind of the alleged move to bring in some spurious documents, the PDP Election Petition Stakeholders team led by one Comrade Johnson Monkom Johnson, said: "We are ready to go the whole hog to ensure that no fake documents are smuggled into the tribunal to pervert justice and tell lies to the Court in the name of getting a waiver.

Nobody has been exempted from pledging to an oath to our knowledge. The only thing is that there could be a difference between affirmation and swearing but they all mean the same thing.

"It is a lie to say you won't swear an oath of allegiance to the throne. We are ready and If they allegedly forge any document, we would interrogate it immediately before the British Court and make it public. We would petition the Home Office for forgery and pursue the matter to any length to ensure that justice is seen to have been done.

 "We would not accept any subterranean moves or any attempt to temper with the already submitted documents at court.

 "An insider source has confirmed to us from the Home Office that no one can be excused in spite of the provision that the Secretary of State can. We can, therefore, say without fear of contradiction that Hon. Peter Odey swore to the Oath. We would watch out for any further development and are ready once again to pursue the matter to any length."

Speaking to journalists shortly after closing his case at the tribunal on Tuesday, July 11, 2023, the counsel to People's Democratic Party candidate,Prof.Sandy Onor, Dr. Joshua Yusuf,SAN,said their decision to close their case is about strategy as it is a faster and better route for his team.

 In his words, "So far we called four witnesses two yesterday and two additional witnesses today for the petitioners and closed our case today.Our case is essentially on the qualification of the governor and the deputy governor.

 "It's all about strategy, we met and discovered that we should adopt this strategy as it is better and faster route for us and we are hopeful."

 On his part, counsel for the respondents, Otu, Odey, and others, Kimasuade Edun, SAN, who held brief for the lead counsel Prof. Mike Ozekhome, SAN, said the petitioners have ten days to call their witnesses but since they have decided to close their case, they need some time also to gather their witnesses.