An Appeal Court sitting in Port Harcourt has ignored the judgement of a Federal High Court who sacked the All Progressives Congress gubernatorial candidate, Tonye Cole, as well as other national, and state assembly candidates.
Recall that a court, presided over by Justice Emmanuel Obile, had on October 25 in Port Harcourt sacked the candidates of APC following a suit by George Orlu and five others over their exclusion from the party’s delegate congresses.
The Court of Appeal declared the decisions in three separate judgments on an appeal brought by the APC, the gubernatorial candidate of the party, Tonye Cole, and the National and State Assembly candidates, rising from the earlier judgement.
The three-man special panel of the Court of Appeal in the judgement delivered by the lead Judge, Justice Muhammed Lawal-Shaibu said George Orlu and five others did not completely exhaust the internal party mechanism before instituting the suit.
Lawal-Shaibu maintained that the respondents did not participate in the congress of the APC and so did not have any cause of action and lacked the right to go to court.
The panel said the nomination of delegates and political parties is entirely an internal party affair, and that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit abi initio.
He thereby ignored the judgement against the APC and awarded the sum of N500, 000 each for the three cases as cost against the appeal respondents in favour of APC.
In a similar situation, a 15-ground appeal instituted by Senatorial, Federal House of Representatives and State Assembly candidates, the appeal court maintained that the aggrieved defendants at appeal can not exhaust the internal mechanisms provided by the party’s constitution before going to court.
Lawal-Shaibu said the trial Judge did a strange thing when it delivered judgement on the preliminary objection of the defence and the substantive matter just to grant the plaintiff’s prayer.
He said the judge was in a serious error for not going into the merit of the matter, and questioned how the court got reasons to deliver its judgement without properly examining the case.
Justice lawal-shaibu said the appeals by apc, Cole and assembly candidates were on merit and are allowed. Meanwhile, the rivers state apc 2023 campaign council while hailing the judgement, commended the judiciary for standing on the path of justice.
Spokesman of the council, Barr. Sogbeye Eli, said the judgement will certainly give rivers people the opportunity to choose the candidates of their choice at the poll, even as he called on politicians to approach democracy with utmost fairness and a sense of responsibility.
Eli said the APC will begin activities following the judgement, while pointing out that the party would not apply to the state to use public schools for its campaigns.
“We will not apply to anybody to use the school. If we do that it amounts to illegality. We are in court challenging it,” Eli said.