Following the January 7th judgement by a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt over the authentic candidatures and executives of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State, Senator Magnus Abe has approached an appellate court sitting in the state to declare him and his group the rightful candidates of the party for the 2019 general polls.
Counsel to Senator Abe, Mr Henry Bello, made this known to newsmen on Monday at the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt, after the court adjourned Appeal filed by Rotimi Amaechi’s faction of the APC against Ibrahim Umar and 22 others in the state challenging the Rivers State High Court order of May 11 and 30, 2018 which restrained the party from conducting wards, LGA and State congresses.
According to Bello, the Federal High Court recognised his client’s faction of the party as the authentic executive but failed to order INEC or APC at the national to recognise Senator Magnus Abe and other candidates who emerged through direct primaries of the party as the authentic candidates.
He said they are approaching the Appeal Court to exercise their rights as the authentic candidates of the party in the state.
Bello said: “We went to the Federal High Court, Senator Magnus Abe and others who are products of the Direct Primary election of the APC conducted in Rivers state, which is not in disobedience of the judgment of the High Court of Rivers State on May 11, and May 30, 2018”.
“We went for two things; firstly, is to declare Magnus Abe and others who emerged from the direct primary exercise as the authentic candidates of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State for the positions of governor, senators, members of House of Representatives and Rivers State House of Assembly.
“Secondly, to declare that the group led by Architect Patrick Tonye Cole are not the authentic candidates, their own primaries having been declared null and void, first by the order of the state High Court on May 30, 2018. Again, by the judgment of the State High Court on October 10, 2018, against which there is no pending Appeal anywhere. That judgment has been set aside by the Court of Appeal.
“So, the federal High court granted part of our prayers by declaring the Tonye Cole led group not the authentic candidates but refused to recognise us based on the fact that our own primaries was conducted by the state executive.
But we are in the Court of Appeal trying to exercise our right to appeal, just like in the judgment of the Supreme Court in the cases of PDP vs Ugwu and PDP vs Orenesi which recognized primary conducted by state executive of parties.”
Meanwhile, an Appeal panel led by Justice Isaiah Akeju has adjourned sine die appeal by Amaechi’s faction of the Rivers State APC to set aside the judgement of the state High Court on the party Congresses.
Justice Akeju adjourned sine die in the 198/CA/2018, pending the outcome of the decision of the Supreme Court on same matter.
Earlier, counsel for Ibrahim Umar and 22 others, Henry Bello, applied for an adjournment of the matter pending the Supreme Court judgment on same matter fixed for January 21, this year.
The appellant’s lawyer, Joshua Olatoke, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), did not opposed to the adjournment sine die pending the decision of Supreme court on same matter.
Speaking with The AUTHORITY outside the courtroom, Henry Bello, who represented Ibrahim Umar and 22 others, in the suit said “Today, a panel of the court of Appeal sat regarding Appeal number 198/CA/2018, APC against Ibrahim Umar.
“This Appeal is the subject matter of Appeal number SC/1070/2018 which is before the Supreme Court for judgement. Because of this the matter has been adjourned sine die today, to await the the outcome of the decision of the Supreme Court in the matter.
“We are Respondents in this matter. This matter relate to an order made by the High Court of Rivers State on May 11, 2018, by special insertion after some miscreants tried to overhaul and intimidate the court from sitting by act of criminality. The court gave the order restraining the APC from conducting ward congresses pending the hearing and determination of the matter.”
On his part, Joshua Olatoke, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who represented Amaechi’s faction of the state APC said,
“The status quo remains. This matter was adjourned by special panel sine die, pending the outcome of the Appeal of Ibrahim Umar and others in the Supreme Court. And Supreme Court heard the matter in December and adjourned judgement till March 8, 2019. That is the matter that came up this morning.
“You also recall that Ibrahim Umar and 22 others, they applied that partial panel to be constituted, which was the panel that adjourned the matter sine die not this panel.”