APC candidates get lifeline in Rivers, hope in Zamfara

Politics
  • …as court stays execution of ruling excluding party in Rivers

 

The Court of Appeal sitting in Rivers State yesterday granted a stay of execution on the judgment of a Port Harcourt High Court which nullified the primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.

The stay granted by the appellate court has renewed the hope of the party’s candidates for the governorship, national and state assembly elections.

Already, one of the APC governorship candidates in Rivers State, Tonye Cole, said he was optimistic of featuring on the ballot and urged his supporters to intensify campaign.

Tonye Cole welcomed the court verdict with satisfaction, saying “The decision of the Court of Appeal has proved beyond reasonable doubt that justice can only be delayed, but not denied. It has similarly justified the legal axiom which says that those who come to equity must do so with  clean hands.

“Our position is that the landmark decision which opens the way for the APC to participate in the electoral process is an act of God, a victory both for democracy, the people and the judiciary,” Cole stated in a press statement issued in Port Harcourt.

A faction of the APC loyal to the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, had approached the Appeal Court for an order to stay the execution of the judgement of the lower court to allow them participate in the elections.

The three-man appeal panel led by Justice Ali Gumel held that it would be an act of injustice and unfair if the order was not granted.

Mustafa said that the court had jurisdiction to hear the matter against the position of the respondent’s counsel, Henry Bello.

On the argument of Bello that the court could not stay execution on the matter in which action had been completed, Muhammed said it was not in the position of court to declare an event completed when INEC which is a party in the matter has not affirmed such.

He held that the court considered the affidavit and responses of the parties, adding that every case was decided in its peculiarity and thereby stayed the execution of the judgement of the Federal High Court.

Mr Chimenem Wisdom Jerome, counsel for APC candidates, said that with the judgement, INEC will bring back his clients in the list for the 2019 general elections.

On his part, Patrick Luke, who is the counsel for the other APC candidate Magnus Abe and 42 others, maintained that the court ruled in error.

He said that the court could not give order for a stay of execution on a completed act.

 

Yari defies INEC, flags off campaign

In Zamfara State, the APC, led by Governor Abdulaziz Yari, has flagged off their campaign despite the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to exclude them from the polls, citing court orders.

The governor is currently holding street rallies for various candidates of the party, including that of his preferred governorship candidate, Mukhtar Shehu Idris.

INEC had insisted that the APC would not field candidates in Zamfara State for the National Assembly, governorship and state assembly elections.

The Federal High Court in Abuja had last week upheld the decision of INEC not to accept candidates of the APC in Zamfara State for the 2019 general elections while a Zamfara State High Court on the same day gave a contrary judgement, ordering INEC to recognise and accept the candidates of the party.

But on Sunday, Yari flagged off the campaigns in the ancient town of Kaura Namoda where he led candidates of the party for various offices to convince the electorate to vote for the APC.

Gov. Yari raised the hands of Alhaji Muktar Shehu Idris, his erstwhile Commissioner for Finance, as his preferred gubernatorial candidate.

 

PDP, NRM see chance in Zamfara

However, Daily Trust reports that some politicians in other parties are taking advantage of the uncertainty in Zamfara APC.

They include Sen. Saidu Dansadau of the National Rescue Movement (NRM), Dr. Bello Muhammad Mutawalle of the PDP), Dr. Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi of APGA and Alhaji Bashir Adamu of PPN.

PDP candidate, Dr. Mutawalle, has been aggressively prosecuting his campaign rallies from one local government to another vowing to deliver on his campaign promises if elected.

“We are sure of victory at the polls and the good people of Zamfara State have since realised that the best option for them is to vote PDP into power,” adding that, “The people are very curious to change the change.”

Dr. Shinkafi told Daily Trust that their chance of winning the election was bright not because the APC could not field candidates but because of its monumental failure in the state.

He said it was a huge joke for APC to field candidates for the general elections, adding that the only viable alternative for voters in Zamfara was APGA, adding that the party was set and determined to bring succour to the people of the state.

But some voters in Gusau told our correspondent that they would not participate in the forthcoming elections because their candidates had been excluded.

Suleiman Zurmi said he would not participate in the election because a member of the factional APC aspirants known as G- 8 could not make it as the party’s candidate.

Abubakar Abubakar said NRM candidate Senator Saidu Dansadau would be his alternative.  I would have preferred the Deputy Governor, Ibrahim Wakkala Muhammad, if he had gotten the ticket but in the alternative, I would vote for Dansadau,” he said.

 

APC hails C/Appeal on Rivers

The party’s national publicity secretary, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a phone interview, said the ruling was in line with was already known and expected.

Issa Onilu said, “We have said it. Even just last week, I said it that we are a party that goes by the rules. Everything we have done is in compliance with the extant rules. And we have no doubt whatsoever that the court, being the last resort for justice, will do the needful. So, we are thankful to the Appeal Court in Rivers that has deemed it fit to uphold the fact that we are supposed to field candidates.”

 

Lawyers speak

In his view, Akin Olujimi (SAN) said the stay of execution by the Court of Appeal in respect of Rivers gives the APC the right to function in the elections in the state.

He said where the appellate court finds the decision of the High Court to be right after the election, the other party “would be entitled to go to the tribunal to challenge the declaration of the APC candidate as winner.”

Also reacting, former General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Afam Osigwe, said the implication of the order is that INEC should not give effect to the earlier order of the high court on the state chapter of the APC.

“It means that in the interim, the APC can field candidates pending the determination of the suit,” he said.

 

We have not seen A/Court judgment – INEC

Speaking on the campaigns going on in Zamfara and Rivers, INEC said yesterday that the APC chapters were not violating any law even though they remained barred from fielding candidates.

The Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Lawrence Oyekanmi, told Daily Trust last night that INEC stance on the two states subsists.

He said, “I am not sure there is any provision in the Electoral Act that said that you cannot campaign because you are disqualified. The law cannot envisage everything as far as their activities are within the law.

“Our position on Zamfara and Rivers is well known and this has not changed. Even if the position would change, there would be lawful reason for that. For instance, I heard of a court judgement on Rivers today (yesterday). We have not seen the judgement.

“As far as we are concerned on Zamfara, the APC did not conduct primaries and does not have candidates.”

Daily trust

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