A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has disqualified 16 House of Assembly candidates of the All Progressives Congress from contesting the 2023 elections for non-compliance with the new Electoral Act.
The trial judge, Justice Mohammed Adamu, gave the ruling on Friday, following a suit instituted by the Peoples Democratic Party for non-monitoring of the APC legislative primary by the Independent National Electoral Commission in suit number FHC/PH/CS/152/2022.
The councils and constituencies affected are: Obio/Akpor 1 and 2, Andoni, Okrika, Ahoada west, Khana1and 2, PH 1, 2 and 3, Etche 1 and 2 Oyigbo, Gokana, Tai and Eleme.
In a swift reaction, the spokesman, 2023 Elections Campaign Council of the Rivers APC, Sogbeye Eli, expressed surprise at the judgement, but said party would never break despite it being stretched by anti-democratic forces.
Eli in a statement made available to newsmen urged party faithful and its teeming supporters of its candidates in the affected state constituencies neither to despair nor be agitated.
He stated that the party proceeded on appeal to reverse the judgment and restore the mandate of candidates ahead of the elections, pointing out that the APC would be on the ballot in the state.
The statement read, “The 2023 Elections Campaign Council of the APC received with surprise the news of another judgment of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt this afternoon ordering the disqualification of our candidates for the Rivers State House of Assembly in 16 State Constituencies for the March 11, 2023 general election.
“Delivering judgment in the case brought by the PDP; PDP v. INEC and 33 Others (FHC/PH/CS/152/2022), Justice Turaki Mohammed ruled in favour of the plaintiffs for non-monitoring of the APC legislative primary by INEC in Andoni, Etche Constituency 1 & 2, Tai, Gokana, Oyigbo, Eleme, Port Harcourt Constituency 1, 2 & 3, Khana Constituency 1 & 2, Okrika, Ahoada West and Obio/Akpor Constituency 1 & 2.
“With this verdict, only the candidates for Ahoada East 1 & 2, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni 1 & 2, Emohua, Degema, Akuku Toru 1 & 2, Asari Toru 1 & 2, Bonny, Ikwerre, Omuma, Opobo/Nkoro, Abua/Odual and Ogu/Bolo were spared in the judgment.
“In the circumstance, the Campaign Council is compelled yet again to urge party faithful and millions of Rivers people supporting our candidates in the affected State Constituencies not to despair or be agitated as we proceed on appeal to reverse the judgment and restore our candidates ahead of the elections.
“We recall that the same INEC had led evidence to prove that the Commission monitored the APC primary before another Judge of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt Division, in another matter challenging the eligibility of our candidates for the National Assembly (Senate and the House of Representatives).
“The enemies of democracy in our state who are afraid to meet us at the polls are out to break our spirit and force a fait accompli on the Rivers electorate who are backing our candidates.
“But they have failed. We will contest the coming elections at all levels and win after setting aside this judgment as the constitution allows the APC.”