By Precious Akutamadu
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to include its governorship, federal and state assemblies candidates in the rescheduled general elections.
The state’s APC, in a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary Chris Finebone, on Wednesday, in Port Harcourt, cited various decisions of higher courts to justify its demand.
The party claimed that there was no Supreme Court judgement anywhere authorising INEC to delist APC candidates in Rivers State.
The APC insisted that the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu’s statement on the commission’s commitment to obey Supreme Court judgement “is premised on error.”
“We are advising the INEC leadership not to constitute themselves as enemies of democracy by obeying a non-existent Supreme Court judgment.’
“Hence the chairman of INEC must be well guided by credible evidence and not mere media misrepresentations and misinterpretations which are mischievously aimed at destroying an entire political future of a state.
APC said that it had in a letter addressed to Yakubu dated Feb. 19, through its lawyers, Messrs Tuduru Ede and Co, argued that it duly submitted the list of its candidates for Rivers State for the 2019 General Elections in line with the timetable and schedule of activities released by the commission.
It urged INEC to recall that the names and particulars of the state’s APC candidates were duly published by the commission as required by law.
“’Hence we are aware that pursuant to the judgment in Suit No. FHC/PH/CS/ 149/2018 between the Peoples Democratic Party V. All Progressives Congress (APC) & Anor, the names of APC candidates for Rivers State were removed from the final list of candidates published by the commission.
“However, the APC, aggrieved by the said decision of the Federal High Court on which the decisions of the Commission to remove the list was anchored, appealed to the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division in appeal No. CA/PH/38/2019.”
It explained that the Court of Appeal in a considered ruling delivered on Feb. 6, stayed the execution of the said judgment of the Federal High Court.
It further stated that “the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division, also in another appeal No. CA/PH/39/ 2019, further stayed the execution of the judgment of Federal High Court, Port Harcourt.’’
“Furthermore, appeal to the Supreme Court in appeal No. SC 118/2019, against the order of stay of execution granted by the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division, has been struck out by the Supreme Court.
The noted that in spite of the ruling by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, the names of candidates of the APC in Rivers had not been published by the commission as those participating in the 2019 General Elections.
“Thus it is imperative to place on record that the judgment of the Rivers State High Court, in suit No. BHC/78/2018, which was fought to the Supreme Court in appeal No. SC 1332/2018, SC 1333/2018, SC 1334/2018 and SC 81/2018, have nothing to do with INEC as it is not a party thereto.
“You may also wish to note that in spite of the said judgment of Rivers State High Court, the commission accepted and published the names of candidates of APC in respect of Rivers State.
“And it was the judgment of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt that warranted the removal of the names from the final list published by the commission, which judgment has now been stayed.
“In view of the foregoing, we call on the commission to without delay publish the names of candidates of APC in Rivers State for the 2019 General Elections as submitted by the APC.
“We have no doubt that the commission, as a law-abiding institution, will accede to this request without delay,” APC added.
The party maintained that the two Federal High Court judgments that INEC relied on to exclude APC candidates from the ballot paper, have since been stayed by the Court of Appeal.
“It is therefore only righteous for INEC to follow the position of the Court and stop playing to the gallery in a manner that is suspicious and in flagrant disobedience to court decisions and rule of law.
“To this effect, a further appeal to the Supreme Court against the stays of execution has since been thrown out on record.
“There is, therefore, no reason to continue to leave APC Rivers off the ballot. All other appeals as they relate to other matters do not concern INEC, they are not party to them,” the statement claimed.