A federal high court sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers capital, has nullified the primaries conducted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
A claimant, George Orlu, and four other persons identified as aspirants had filed a case before the court seeking a nullification of the primaries over their alleged exclusion.
According to PUNCH, E.A. Obile, the presiding judge, gave the ruling on the grounds that the plaintiffs were unlawfully excluded from the primaries.
The court ruled that those whose names have been submitted as having been elected from the primaries should not be recognised as validly-elected candidates for the APC in the state.
Tonye Cole, a former executive director of Sahara Group, had won the party’s governorship ticket during the primary in May, and INEC had recognised him, among others, as candidates for the party in Rivers for the 2023 polls.
Reacting to the development in a statement on Tuesday, Darlington Nwaujun, Rivers APC publicity secretary, described the ruling as a “travesty of justice”.
“Our immediate response is that the Supreme Court has decided on a plethora of cases suggesting that political parties are their own chief executive officers and can regulate their own internal affairs,” the statement reads.
“The subject matter for which Justice E.A. Obile granted the relief of plaintiffs to nullify the congresses of our party is entirely an internal party affair, therefore it’s a travesty of justice as far as we are concerned.
“Secondly, the persons who went to court against our party are now members of the Social Democratic Party and therefore meddlesome interlopers in our internal affairs.
“We do believe firmly that the appellate courts shall treat the matter dispassionately and deliver justice in this matter because this is not an action against the primaries of our party, but an attempt at challenging the composition of our delegates list.
“We assure Rivers people that the attempt to rehash the 2019 episode in Rivers State is already dead on arrival.
“Nothing will stop the APC in Rivers State from being on the ballot in 2023.”
The court judgment comes amid crisis in Rivers APC over control of the party — a development which has led to resignations and factions.
Meanwhile, the development follows a similar scenario involving the Rivers APC in the 2019 elections — INEC had excluded the party from the polls after a ruling that nullified the primaries conducted by factions of the party.