A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has disqualified 16 House of Assembly candidates of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Rivers State from contesting the 2023 election.
The trial judge, Justice Mohammed Adamu, ruled that the primary elections that produced them did not comply with the new electoral Act.
The judgement came a few weeks after another Federal High Court held that the APC in the State had no valid candidates for the forthcoming poll.
Justice Adamu ruled on a suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) alleging that the APC primary elections were not monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Reacting to the judgement, the spokesman, 2023 Elections Campaign Council of the Rivers APC, Sogbeye Eli, said the party would never break despite being strectched by those he described as anti-democratic forces.
He urged party faithful and Rivers people supporting candidates not to despair saying the party would seek redress at the appeal court.
According to him: “The 2023 Elections Campaign Council of the All Progressives Congress (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, 2022 general elections.
“Delivering judgment in the case brought by the People’s Democratic Party in PDP v. INEC & 33 Ors (FHC/PH/CS/152/2022), Justice Turaki Mohammed ruled in favour of the Plaintiffs for non-monitoring of the APC legislative primary by the Independent National Electoral Commission (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 All Progressives Congress.”
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