The Rivers State All Progressives Congress APC, has reacted promptly to the ruling of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, to nullify APC primaries conducted in Rivers State.
It would be recalled that a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt and presided over by Justice E A Obile, had made the declaration in a judgement delivered on Tuesday, October 25th, which nullified all primary elections conducted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.
The judgement was on a case over the unlawful exclusion of some APC party members as delegates to the primaries. instituted by one George Orlu and four others as Plaintiffs, against Rivers APC, requesting nullification of the primaries of APC in Rivers for alleged exclusion of the aggrieved persons in the process.
Justice Obile agreed with the Plaintiffs that they were wrongly excluded in the elections to participate in the party primaries, ruling the primaries nullified and all those elected consequently not recognized as candidates for the coming elections.
But in a swift reaction to the ruling, the Rivers State APC, in a statement by Barr. Sogbeye Eli, Spokesman, Tonye Cole/Innocent Barikor 2023 Gubernatorial Campaign Council, issued on October 25th, 2022, acknowledged that the party has received the declaration of the court, which had nullified the duly primary elections for all candidates of the party for the 2023 general elections.
The statement which further added that the party had commenced the process of Appeal at the Appealate court and also urged party members to remain calm and keep faith with the Constitution, the Electoral Act 2022, the judicial processes, reads:
LET US REMAIN CALM IN THE FACE OF THE STORM
The All Progressives Congress (APC), Rivers State has received the news of the nullification of the duly conducted primary elections for all candidates of the party for the 2023 general elections by a judgment of a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.
Ruling today on a suit instituted by one George Orlu and five other persons in Suit No.: FHC/PH/CS/87/2022 where the Plaintiffs claimed they were unlawfully excluded from the Congresses conducted to elect Delegates to the party primary where candidates to the various elective positions for the 2023 general elections of our great party emerged, they sought among other reliefs an Order of the Court to nullify the Ward Congresses and the Primaries emanating from the said Congresses. They further sought an Order of the Court to restrain INEC from recognizing the candidates of the APC who emanated from the primaries thereby preventing them from contesting the general elections.
The learned trial Judge agreed with the Plaintiffs contrary to the evidence led by our party to prove that the Plaintiffs were not members of the APC. The Judge came to his judgment even when the Register of APC members filed with the INEC was exhibited to show that they were not members of APC. The trial Court, in its wisdom, ignored all the evidence adduced and found for the Plaintiffs who are not members of our party neither are they aspirants to any of the primaries conducted by the APC.
Furthermore, we wish to state that the trial Court came to its conclusions regardless of the Court’s attention being drawn to a recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Hon. Monday Iyare Osagie & Ors. Vs. Victor Engham Charles Egbon where the Supreme Court held that it is only an Aspirant who contested a primary resulting from the Congresses that can challenge any irregularities arising from the said Congresses. To our chagrin, the learned trial Court ignored the said judgment of the apex Court and granted all the reliefs sought by the Plaintiffs.
We are fully aware of, and appreciate, the intensity of apprehension this judgment has caused our party members given the experience of 2019 and appeal that we all remain calm and keep faith with the Constitution, the Electoral Act 2022, the judicial processes and the party. Party members are further assured that our party immediately began the process of appeal and are confident that the appellate courts would do justice to our case in accordance with the law and judicial precedents by overturning today’s judgment and consequently restore our candidates on the ballot.
Sogbeye C. Eli
Spokesman, Tonye Cole/Innocent Barikor 2023 Gubernatorial Campaign Council
October 25, 2023.