The Supreme Court will on March 26, begin hearing in the appeal seeking the determination of the authenticity of the direct primary conducted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State for the nomination of its candidates for the 2019 general election.
APC factional governorship candidate in the state, Senator Magnus Abe is asking the apex court to make a final pronouncement on the legality of both direct and indirect primary polls conducted by the party’s two factions last year.
When the matter was mentioned, Senator Abe’s counsel, Mr. Henry Bello, moved a motion praying the court to amongst others grant an accelerated hearing in the matter, an abridgment of time for parties to file their processes and a definite date for the hearing of the appeal.
He predicted the motion on 8 grounds and an affidavit of urgency because the matter is a pre-election appeal and must be determined within 60 days by law.
The Supreme Court has commenced hearing of the three appeals filed by the two factions of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in River State led by Ibrahim Umah and Ojukaye Amachree.
During the proceeding on Monday in Abuja, the court heard arguments for and against the ruling of the Court of Appeal which stayed execution of the judgment by Justice Chiwendu Nwogu.
Justice Nwogu had in his jugdement barred the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from recognising the primaries conducted by the Rivers APC wherein Mr Tonye Cole and others were nominated to represent the party in the coming general elections.
After listening to the arguments of the parties involved, the Supreme Court proceeded on a short recess after which it would deliver a ruling on the appeals.
The ruling would be on the preliminary objection raised by the counsel to APC, Mr Lateef Fagbemi, urging the court not to hear the appeal filed by Mr Ibrahim Umah challenging the stay of execution of the judgment by Justice Nwogu.
A Federal High court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, has nullified the direct and indirect primaries conducted by the two factions of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
The court, presided over by Justice Kolawole Omotosho, also restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from presenting Tonye Cole and Magnus Abe as governorship candidates in the general elections.
The judge said none of the primaries were conducted according to the law. He noted that the INEC did not do well by submitting names of candidates without consideration of previous court orders.
One of the counsels to the APC factions however told journalists that the judgement will be appealed at the Supreme Court.
Crisis erupted in the Rivers APC during the governorship primaries held in 2018 in the state.
Senator Abe in a direct governorship primary conducted by a faction of the APC was declared winner after he got 144, 929 votes. In an indirect primary held in the state by another faction of the APC, Cole was declared the winner with 3,329 votes.
The national leadership of the APC, however, submitted Cole’s name as its candidate insisting he emerged from the primary conducted by the party.
The Supreme Court has refused to grant permission to the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State, Mr Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, to travel for a medical appointment in Dubai.
The court in its ruling ordered the accused person to answer to the charges against him, observing that he has not taken his plead up till date, after 25 adjournments due to his refusal to appear in court.
Mr Ojukaye Flag-Amachree is to face prosecution over an allegation of murder of a man during the 2015 election in Asari-Toru Local government area of the state.
He was refused bail on May 26, 2016, by a High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, but on November 24, 2016, the Court of Appeal granted him bail.
The apex court barred him from travelling in a ruling delivered by Justice Inyang Okoro following an application for leave to travel filed by the APC chieftain.
In the motion, Amachree sought an order of the court, granting him to leave for Dubai, United Arab Emirate, where he will meet up with a scheduled medical appointment.
He also sought the order of the court for the release of his travel documents to enable him to undertake the trip.
In a statement on Friday, the party said the decision was taken to enable all states of the federation including Rivers, participate in the party’s national convention slated for June 2.
The lawmaker representing Rivers South East district in the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Abe, says there is no ward congress of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 344 wards of the 23 local government areas in Rivers State.
In a statement by his spokesperson Parry Benson on Saturday in Port Harcourt, Senator Abe declared that there was no stakeholders’ meeting before the scheduled congress as promised by the leadership of the party in the state.
A former Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has denied reports suggesting that he used police officers to attack protesters.
His comments come after the All Progressives Congress conducted its ward congress in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
“As early as 6 am, I gathered information that thugs had taken over the secretariat of APC. Despite the fact that the APC had invited them to protect the property, they find it difficult to,” he said.
Amaechi, who is also a Minister for Transportation, accused a party member joining the governorship race for allegedly using thugs to disrupt the exercise.
He further challenged the undisclosed member to purchase the governorship form and thereafter compete with other aspirants in the wards.
Amaechi added, “So what a governorship candidate wants to do is that there should not be any congress. So you took over that secretariat with thugs. About 3 pm, the police had to force themselves in for people to sell and purchase forms.
“If that candidate is popular, why not get your supporters to buy your forms and go compete in the wards.”
According to the minister, the party invited the police to beef up security. He, however, regretted that despite the police presence, the attack still took place.
“Did they come, yes but they did not do anything. Meanwhile, the party needed to sell forms to anybody who was interested.”
Members of the Rivers State APC took to singing and dancing at the APC secretariat in Port Harcourt, the rivers state capital on Saturday following the election tribunal judgement that annulled the April 11 governorship election in the state.
Many of the Rivers APC members were seen carrying posters of their governorship candidate at the last elections, Dakuku Peterside, and singing solidarity songs but the PDP in the state has said that the merriment might be short lived.
In a press statement signed by the Media Adviser to the Chairman of the party, Jerry Needam, the party referred to the judgement as a travesty of justice, insisting that the party would exhaust all legal options to upturn what it called a conspiracy against Rivers people.
The Publicity Secretary of the APC in the state, Chris Finebone, however, stated that his party is not bothered by any legal move that the PDP might make.
According to him, the Rivers APC is confident that the tribunal judgement that nullified Governor Wike’s election has made the job easy for both the Appeal Court and Supreme Court.