Appeal Court reinstates Cole, says no party has powers to sue INEC over activities of another party

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Tina Amanda

A Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt has set aside the judgment of a lower court disqualifying APC and its Governorship candidate Patrick Tonye-Cole from participating in the 2023 election.

The All Progressive Congress and its governorship candidate, Patrick Tonye-Cole, filed the Appeal against the People’s Democratic Party and Independent National Electoral Commission INEC over the federal High court judgment that sacked Tonye-Cole as the governorship candidate of APC.

Justice Olabode Adegbehingbe of the Appeal Court, who read the judgement on behalf of Justice Joseph Ikyegh, held that INEC could not be sued by a political party to challenge the position of candidates of another party.

The appellate court ruled that a political party can not compel INEC to come to monitor its congresses.

The court also ruled that parties are to bear their cost respectively, thereby setting aside the lower court’s judgement.

Recall a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt presided over by Justice Emmanuel Obile had in his judgment on a suit filed by PDP, seeking Patrick Tonye-Cole be disqualified as the governorship candidate of APC for allegedly having dual citizenship and that APC violated the electoral act in the conduct of it’s Congress and primary that brought in Tonye-Cole.

In an interview with our correspondent, Counsel to People’s Democratic Party, PDP Dike Udenna said its client will determine if to appeal the judgement at the supreme court.

“The judgement of the lower court was set aside; we have applied for a copy of the judgement. Parties have constitutional rights to appeal to the supreme court, which is a governorship matter, but that will be dependent after our clients have seen the judgement, to decide whether to appeal or let it be”.

Also, Counsel representing APC, Chimenem Jerome, said the court of Appeals, in its wisdom, has restored the position of the law and is giving Tonye-Cole go ahead to contest the 2023 elections.

“What happens in a court of Rivers State does not happen elsewhere; the court of Appeal vindicated our position incidentally today. We have always contended that another political party can not, by virtual section 285 of 14c, dabble into the domestic affairs of political parties in the form of primaries.

“The court of Appeal has maintained that it is not their business; it is for the public to know that all the shenanigans taking place in Port Harcourt will not hinder anyone from participating in the coming election, especially APC candidates in Rivers State. The court unanimously resolved all the issues”.