Rising from the reservation of judgment by the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division on our appeals in CA/PH/505/2022 (Nwankwo Ndubuisi & 47 Ors v. George Orlu & 6 Ors), CA/PH/521/2022 (INEC v. George Orlu & 6 Ors) and CA/PH/523/2022 (Hon. Ojukaye Flag Amachree v. George Orlu & 6 Ors), the Rivers APC 2023 Campaign Council salutes the dismissal today of suits filed by the State Chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to challenge the eligibility of candidates of Accord and Action Alliance respectively by Justices of the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court.
In the case of Action Alliance, the candidature of Dr. Dawari Ibietela George was affirmed in Suit No.: FHC/PH/CS/177/2022 (Rt. Hon. (Chief) Aleruchi Williams v. INEC & Ors) by Justice P. I. Ajoku who held that the Plaintiff filed his Originating Summons out of time and same failed woefully since pre-election matters are “sui generis”. The Court further held that the Plaintiff lacked the locus standi to institute the action, citing the lack of power by the Courts to interfere in the internal affairs of political parties in the nomination of candidates. Justice Ajoku also noted that the Plaintiff who did not participate in the second governorship primary of Action Alliance on the 10th of August, 2022 was incompetent to complain of exclusion under the Electoral Act 2022 and warned against external interference in the internal affairs of political parties by third parties. Justice Ajoku stated that the sponsorship of persons to contest elections was the internal and domestic affair of political parties and the court was barred by law from interference in same.
In the second case involving the Action Alliance in Suit No.: FHC/PH/CS/160/2022 (Abednego Benjamin Oli & Ors v. Action Alliance & Ors), Justice Emmanuel Obile of the Federal High Court dismissed the suit following the withdrawal of the Plaintiff.
On the part of Accord, a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt presided over by Justice Stephen Daylop-Pam today struck out the suit of the PDP challenging the eligibility of Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, the governorship candidate of Accord, and his running mate to contest the 2023 general elections for lack of jurisdiction.
The Court also struck out a separate suit filed by the PDP challenging the eligibility of the National Assembly candidates of Accord for lack of jurisdiction. He held that his judgment was based on recent decisions of the Court of Appeal in Lagos and Port Harcourt on Courts’ lack of jurisdiction to hear a case filed by a political party challenging another on matters hinging on a party’s internal affairs. Justice Daylop-Pam who did not bother to delve into the merits of the case insisted that he would not interfere in the matter after appellate courts had taken decision on similar matters since doing so will amount to judicial rascality.
As a Campaign Council whose party has been inundated with adverse judgments from suits by the PDP and her mercenaries in the run-in to the 2023 general elections, we welcome these decisions as they go a long way in reinforcing our position that undue external interference by forces bent on unlawfully excluding our great party from the ballot are behind our ordeal. We are relieved, in particular, that there is little or no difference between the reliefs sought by our antagonists in the plethora of cases filed against us when placed in juxtaposition with the cases determined today. Furthermore, we are glad that these judgments were delivered by the same Judges of the same Division of the Federal High Court on the same legal issues.
Today’s decisions have exposed the collapse of a plot to force a one-party system on Rivers State by the PDP which is determined to impose her unpopular governorship and other candidates. We thank the Judiciary and further charge Judges of our Courts to ensure that the conspiracy by enemies of democracy and the rule of law against the rights of Rivers people to freely elect their leaders and representatives collapses.
In the circumstance, we urge all Rivers APC faithful to remain steadfast, focused and determined to work harder for our candidates at all levels to earn the victory we richly deserve at the elections early next year.
Sogbeye C. Eli
Spokesman, Rivers APC 2023 Campaign Council
December 6, 2022.