An Appeal Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has struck out a suit by the Peoples Democratic Party against the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Tonye Cole, and the Independent National Electoral Commission over non-compliance to the Electoral Act.
The Appeal Court also set outside the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt over the alleged dual citizenship of Tonye Cole.
The three-man panel of appeal in a unanimous judgment said the PDP lacked the locus standi to challenge APC, its governorship candidate, and the INEC on the conduct of the congresses and primary election that brought in the candidate.
On the issue of dual citizenship, the appeal court in the judgment delivered by Justice Olabode Adegbehingbe on behalf of the lead Judge, Justice Joseph Ikyegh said the PDP lacked the legal right to drag INEC to court in a pre-election matter.
Justice Adegbehingbe further said the Supreme Court’s decision on the issue of citizenship on electoral matters was final.
Speaking to newsmen outside the court, one of the counsels to the APC, Chimenem Jerome, expressed happiness with the judgment, describing it as a watershed.
Jerome stated, “The judgement is a watershed in the political jurisprudence in this part of the country.
“I say so because what happens in the courts in Rivers State don’t happen elsewhere. Incidentally, the court of appeal today has vindicated our position.”
Continuing, he said, “We have always contended that another political party cannot by virtue of section 285 sub 14C dabble into the internal affairs of political parties in the form of its primaries, however, the party conducts their primaries.
“By the Electoral Act and the Constitution, it is only an aspirant who participated in those primaries that can complain.”
On his part, one of the counsels to PDP, Dike Udenna, said they would apply for copies of the judgement and study them with their client before deciding on the next line of action.
Udenna stated, “Because the judgement was read in paraphrase, we are not able to see what they held on it.
“They just read the conclusion. The conclusion was that the appeal succeeds and the judgement of the lower Court is set aside.
“The parties have the constitutional right of appeal up to the Supreme Court. This has been a governorship matter. We will apply for copies of the judgements.
“But that will be dependent on after they have seen the judgements and then they make a decision, which way to go. Whether to appeal further or let it be. That is the decision for the client to make.”