The Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division, on Wednesday, confirmed that the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State will not field any candidate in the 2019 governorship election, as the court dismissed the appeal filed by Tonye Cole, factional Rivers APC governorship candidate.
The court delivered the ruling while upholding the judgment of a Rivers State High Court presided over by Justice Chinwendu Nwogu.
Justice Nwogu had ruled that the APC in Rivers State has neither ward executives, local government areas executives nor state executives.
The judge, therefore, dismissed the appeal filed by Ojukaye Flag Amachree, the sacked Rivers State APC chairman.
The Appeal Court panel of justices, who dismissed the two appeals for lack of merit, was chaired by Justice Abubakar Yahaya.
The third appeal, which centered on the judgment delivered by Justice Nwogu, was dismissed because it was filed out of time and therefore statute-barred.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Yahaya said the appeal against Justice Nwogu’s decision on the party’s congresses crises lacked merit, adding that the application for joinder failed to observe the 14 days rule for appeal.
While ruling on the substantive appeal number CA/PH/198, the panel held that the Ojukaye faction failed to seek leave of court before appealing against the lower court’s judgment.
Yahaya maintained that the judgment delivered at the lower court was a consent judgment, adding that the Ojukaye faction should have done the legally needful before approaching the court.
Patrick Luke, counsel to Ibrahim Imah and 22 others, the respondents, said the Court of Appeal ruling confirms that the judgment delivered by Justice Nwogu remains valid and is still subsisting.
While Emenike Ebete, counsel to Ojukaye Flag Amachree, the appellants, noted that the court heard the three matters and in its wisdom arrived at the ruling upholding Justice Nwogu’s decision.
He said, “Arguments were taken; but the court, in its wisdom, held that in appeal 461, that is the substantive appeal, the consent judgment of the High Court of Rivers State and by provision of the constitution, we ought to have sought leave of court to appeal against that consent judgment. That is their own decision and they struck it out.
“The one for the candidates and the party state excos were dismissed on the ground that it was a pre-election matter, that we did not bring the application within 14 days after the decision was delivered on October 10. What that means is that we will approach the Supreme Court to contest the judgment.”
It would be recalled that on October 10, a Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt nullified the nomination of Tonye Cole as the governorship candidate of the APC in Rivers State on the ground that his nomination is a function of illegality and unconstitutional acts.
The court also nullified the Rivers State APC Senatorial, House of Representatives and House of Assembly primaries on the premise of the illegality of the ward congresses.
The High Court further nullified the election of Rivers APC ward executives, local government executives and state executive committee that arose from the illegal ward congresses.
In a judgment delivered by Justice Chinwendu Nwogu in a suit filed by Ibrahim Imah and 22 others against the APC, the court declared that the Rivers APC ward congresses were illegal because they were not conducted in line with the APC guidelines and constitution.