A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Friday disqualified 16 House of Assembly candidates of the All Progressives Congress from running in the 2023 elections for failing to comply with the new electoral Act.
According to The PUNCH, the verdict was delivered by Justice Mohammed Adamu, the suit was instituted by the Peoples Democratic Party for non-monitoring of the APC legislative primary by the Independent National Electoral Commission in suit number FHC/PH/CS/152/2022.
Obio/Akpor 1 and 2, Andoni, Okrika, Ahoada west, Khana 1 and 2, PH 1 and 2, Etche 1 and 2 Oyigbo, Gokana, Tai, and Eleme are the affected councils and constituencies.
The Rivers APC’s 2023 Elections Campaign Council spokesman, Sogbeye Eli, expressed surprise at the ruling but assured supporters that the party would persevere despite being put under pressure from anti-democratic forces.
Eli urged party faithful and its thronging supporters of its candidates in the affected state constituencies not to despair or be agitated in a statement made available to newsmen.
He said that the party had filed an appeal to overturn the decision and reinstate the candidates’ mandates in advance of the elections, noting that the APC would be on the state’s ballot.
The statement read, “The 2023 Elections Campaign Council of the APC received with surprise the news of another judgment of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt this afternoon ordering the disqualification of our candidates for the Rivers State House of Assembly in 16 State Constituencies for the March 11, 2023 general election.
“Delivering judgment in the case brought by the PDP; PDP v. INEC and 33 Others (FHC/PH/CS/152/2022), Justice Turaki Mohammed ruled in favour of the plaintiffs for non-monitoring of the APC legislative primary by INEC in Andoni, Etche Constituency 1 & 2, Tai, Gokana, Oyigbo, Eleme, Port Harcourt Constituency 1, 2 & 3, Khana Constituency 1 & 2, Okrika, Ahoada West and Obio/Akpor Constituency 1 & 2.
“With this verdict, only the candidates for Ahoada East 1 & 2, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni 1 & 2, Emohua, Degema, Akuku Toru 1 & 2, Asari Toru 1 & 2, Bonny, Ikwerre, Omuma, Opobo/Nkoro, Abua/Odual and Ogu/Bolo were spared in the judgment.
“In the circumstance, the Campaign Council is compelled yet again to urge party faithful and millions of Rivers people supporting our candidates in the affected State Constituencies not to despair or be agitated as we proceed on appeal to reverse the judgment and restore our candidates ahead of the elections.
“We recall that the same INEC had led evidence to prove that the Commission monitored the APC primary before another Judge of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt Division, in another matter challenging the eligibility of our candidates for the National Assembly (Senate and the House of Representatives).
“The enemies of democracy in our state who are afraid to meet us at the polls are out to break our spirit and force a fait accompli on the Rivers electorate who are backing our candidates.
“But they have failed. We will contest the coming elections at all levels and win after setting aside this judgment as the constitution allows the APC.”