A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt yesterday nullified the ward, local government and state congresses held by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State on May 19, May 20 and May 21, 2018.
The court also nullified all the primaries conducted by the Ojukaye Flag-Amachree led State Executive Committee (APC) of the APC in the state.
The presiding judge, Justice Chinwendu Nwogu, while delivering judgment on a suit filed by Ibrahim Imah and 22 others against the APC, declared that the congresses were illegal because they were not conducted in line with the APC guidelines and constitution.
Nwogu stated that all actions taken by the APC during the pedancy of the suit have been set aside because they are illegal and unconstitutional.
He declared that all those who purchased nomination forms for the ward congresses were entitled to contest the ward congresses of May 19, 2018, but were unjustly excluded by the party.
The judge said, “The rule by might must be checked by the rule of law. We must restore the hope of the common man in the justice system.”
Nwogu, who based his judgement on the Amaechi versus INEC matter of 2007, noted that having studied the submissions in the matter, he was bound to make consequential orders to ensure that justice was done in the case.
He stated that the State High Court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter as an appeal filed by the respondents at the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt to stop proceedings on the suit was rejected by the Appellate Court on September 21, 2018.
The judge further stated that all through the hearing, the APC filed no counter affidavit denying the facts of the matter as presented by the applicants in the originating summons.
Nwogu, who said it is trite law that facts not disputed are deemed admitted, declared that the Abuja High Court is of coordinate jurisdiction with the High Court in Port Harcourt and cannot sit in appeal over it.
Speaking to newsmen after, counsel to the applicants, Henry Bello, described the judgement as victory for democracy and rule of law.
Bello said, “According to the constitution, not according to the caprices of the elite, the court has nullified and set aside the primary elections conducted indirectly by APC on September 29, 2018.”
However, counsel to the APC, Prince Azunda insisted that the State High Court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the matter. “
Azunda said, “Once a preliminary objection relates to jurisdiction, no matter how it is presented, it must be considered by the court. This is so that the decision of court conducted without the requisite jurisdiction is a nullity. The judgement that was just delivered is a judgement of nullity.”
Meanwhile, the Senator representing Rivers South-East district in the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe, has urged the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC to obey the order of the State High Court.
Abe who is also a governorship aspirant on the party’s platform, made the call yesterday while speaking at a rally organised by the Prince Peter Odike led faction of the APC in Port Harcourt.
He said, “Today as we speak judgement has been given on the congresses and the court has done that which we told you from the beginning that you cannot collect money from people and you don’t allow them to participate. You are not leading well, it will bring well.
“We stand on direct primaries and we want to use this opportunity go appeal to the National Working Committee to stand by the will of the people. We have been in a situation in this state where even when the courts will speak, people will go to the radio and television and announce that they will not obey the courts.”
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