Tony John, Port Harcourt
A Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt, on Wednesday, nullified the nomination of Engr. Tonye Cole, as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, on the ground that his nomination was a function of illegality and unconstitutional acts.
The court also quashed the state APC Senatorial, House of Representatives and House of Assembly primaries conducted on the premise of the illegal ward congresses.
It further nullified the elections of Rivers APC ward executives, local government executives and State executive committee that arose from the illegal ward congresses.
In a judgment delivered by Justice Chiwendu Nwogu, in a suit filed by Ibrahim Imah and 22 others against the APC, the Court declared that the ward congresses of Rivers APC were illegal because they were not conducted in line with the APC Guidelines and Constitution.
Justice Nwogu set aside the ward congresses of Rivers APC on May 19, 2018, Local Government congresses of May 19, 2018 and State Congress of the party of May 21, 2018.
He stated that all actions taken by the APC during the pendency of the suit have been set aside because they were illegal and unconstitutional.
Justice Nwogu declared that all those who purchased nomination forms for the ward congresses were entitled to contest the ward congresses of May 19, 2018, but were unjustly excluded by the party.
He said, “The rule by might must be checked by the rule of law. We must restore the hope of the common man in the justice system”.
Justice Nwogu who based his judgement on the Amaechi versus INEC Matter of 2007, noted that having studied the submissions in the matter, he was bound to make consequential orders to ensure that justice was done in the case.
He stated that the High Court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter as an Appeal filed by the respondents at the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt, to stop proceedings on the suit was rejected by the appellate court on September 21, 2018.
He stated that all through the hearing, the APC filed no counter-affidavit denying the facts of the matter as presented by the applicants in the originating summons.
Justice Nwogu said that it was trite law that facts not disputed are deemed admitted.
On the suit filed in an Abuja High Court by a faction of the APC , Justice Nwogu declared that the court is of coordinate jurisdiction with the High Court in Port Harcourt and cannot sit in appeal over it. He added that the suit filed by Ibrahim Imah, preceded that of the Abuja High Court by a faction of the Rivers State APC.
Earlier before the delivery of the judgment, a counsel to the APC, Prince Azunda, moved a motion seeking to stop the delivery of the judgment .
However, Justice Nwogu dismissed his application which he termed as a ploy to arrest the judgment.
Following the judgment, the APC no longer has a candidate for the governorhip, Senate, House of Representatives, House of Assembly elections in the forthcoming 2019 elections .
By implication of the ruling, APC also has no State Working Committee, Local Government Working Committees and Ward executives.