A High Court in Port-Harcourt has declared as null and void the nomination of Mr Tonye Cole as governorship candidate in Rivers State.
The court has also nullified the senatorial, House of Representatives and House of Assembly indirect primaries on the grounds that they were based on illegal ward congresses.
Justice Chiwendu Nwogu delivered the judgment in a suit (PHC/78/2018) filed by Ibrahim Imah and 22 APC aspirants challenging their exclusion from the state congresses. He said it was illegal and unconstitutional for the APC to nominate Cole and other legislative candidates on the premise of congresses the court had already nullified.
The judge stated that the court on May 30, 2018, declared the rescheduled ward congress of May 19; local government congress of May 20; and state congress held on May 21, as mere academic exercise having earlier nullified the congresses held on May 5 and 12.
Nwogu reprimanded the APC for disobeying a court order restraining it from going ahead with the congresses. He said the congresses that led to the emergence of the Ojukaye Flag-Amachree-led executive were therefore illegal as they failed to comply with the party’s guidelines.
The judge asserted that all actions taken by the party, including the nomination of Cole and all legislative candidates while the case brought before the court by the aggrieved APC members was pending, had been set aside because they were illegal and unconstitutional.
He explained that everyone who purchased nomination forms for the ward congresses, including those that filed the suit, was legally entitled to contest the ward congresses of May 19, 2018.
Nwogu also dismissed an application brought by APC’s lawyer, Prince Azunda, seeking to stop the delivery of the judgment. He accused the legal representative of wanting to unlawfully arrest the judgment.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is insisting it will field candidates for Zamfara state for 2019 election where he accused the independent National Electoral Commission of (INEC) of bias
This is coming after the electoral body yesterday barred the party in Zamfara State from fielding candidates in next year’s general elections, accusing it of failing to hold primaries within the stipulated time.
“Based on the provision of Section 87 and 31 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, the commission does not expect that your party will submit names of any candidate from Zamfara State. For clarity, our position, therefore, is that the APC will not be fielding candidates for the governorship, National Assembly and state Assembly elections,” INEC said in a letter addressed to the party’s leadership.
But Oshiomhole faulted INEC in a correspondence to the commission’s secretary, Mr Okechukwu Ndeche. He said the party actually conducted primaries. To buttress his claim, he referred the scribe to a signed report from the Zamfara electoral committee on primaries held between October 6 and 7, 2018.
“The summary of the report, as you will find, is that following the high level of friction, disagreements and threatened violence by various political camps before the primaries, all the aspirants met at City King Hotel, Gusau, to find a truce.
“After hours of intense horse-trading, a consensus was reached within the spirit and context of the Electoral Act and the constitution of our party on the basis of which a list was produced which was confirmed/affirmed by all delegates present. This was done in strict compliance with section 87 (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as Amended).
“Therefore, the claim in your letter under reference that ‘no primaries were conducted by your party in the state, notwithstanding that our officials were fully mobilised and deployed’, could only be referring to their observation that actual voting did not take place, which is not the only mode prescribed for producing candidates in the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended). We, therefore, affirm that indeed primaries took place in Zamfara State.”
He said: “We note that the PDP did not also hold primaries in Kano, but no such similar letter was written to the PDP in relation to Kano State. It is our contention, in the circumstance, that your letter is not only preemptive, but your position seems to negate the spirit of any fair hearing and is devoid of legal basis.”
Oshiomhole said that the APC would surely present candidates for the governorship, National Assembly and state Assembly elections in the state before the October 18, 2018 deadline for the submission of such names.
But following these developments, INEC Director of Publicity Oluwole Osaze Uzzi yesterday on Channels broadcast Television on Politics Today has, however, dismiss the suggestion that the commission would reverse its decision
He said INEC did not take the decision without duly following necessary rules and guidelines. The decision has been made and it will stand because it is in accordance with the rules guiding the procedure.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) meanwhile welcomed the punitive action, urging INEC to resist pressure and remain steadfast in its sanction.
At a press conference yesterday, it warned that any attempt to influence the electoral umpire to change the decision would spark a crisis.
PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party was aware of some subterranean moves by the APC to arm-twist the commission into reversing itself.
“We are aware that INEC has notified the APC that it has no candidate in the 2019 election. Our appeal to INEC is that it must not allow itself to be subdued by the APC and its leadership whether in government or in the party. Doing so will be a recipe for anarchy in Zamfara State.
“For once, they must not allow any form of collusion with the APC because since Zamfara State APC did not meet the October 7 deadline, then it means they have no candidate for the 2019 general elections.”