Justice Chiwendu Nwogu of a High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has nullified the nomination of Tonye Cole as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.
The judge made the pronouncement on Wednesday, on the ground that his nomination is a function of illegality and unconstitutional acts.
The court also nullified the the Rivers State APC Senatorial, House of Representatives and House of Assembly primaries, citing illegalities.
The High Court further nullified all the elections of Rivers APC ward executives, local government executives and State Executive Committee that arose from the said ward congresses.
In a judgment delivered by Justice Chiwendu Nwogu in a suit filed by Ibrahim Imah and 22 others against the APC, the court declared that the ward congresses of Rivers APC were illegal, because they were not conducted in line with the APC guidelines and the party’s constitution.
He set aside the ward congresses of Rivers APC on May 19, 2018, local government congresses of May 19, 2018 and state congress of the party held on May 21, 2018.
He stated that all actions taken by the APC during the pedancy of the suit had been set aside, because they are “illegal and unconstitutional”.
Justice Nwogu declared that all those who purchased nomination forms for the ward congresses were entitled to contest the ward congresses of May 19, 2018, but were unjustly excluded by the party.
He said: “The rule by might must be checked by the rule of law. We must restore the hope of the common man in the justice system.”
Justice Nwogu, who based his judgement on the Amaechi versus INEC Matter of 2007, noted that having studied the submissions in the matter, he was bound to make consequential orders to ensure that justice was done in the case.
He stated that the High Court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter as an appeal filed by the respondents at the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt, to stop proceedings on the suit was rejected by the appellate court on September 21, 2018.
He stated that all through the hearing, the APC filed no counter-affidavit denying the facts of the matter, as presented by the applicants in the originating summons, noting that it is trite law that facts not disputed are deemed admitted.
On the suit filed in an Abuja High Court by a faction of the APC, Justice Nwogu declared that the court is of coordinate jurisdiction with the High Court in Port Harcourt, and cannot sit in appeal over it. He added that the suit filed by Ibrahim Imah preceded that of the Abuja High Court by a faction of the Rivers State APC.
Earlier, a counsel to the APC, Prince OSM Azunda moved a motion seeking to stop the delivery of the judgment. However, Justice Nwogu dismissed his application, which he termed as a ploy to arrest the judgement.
Following the judgment, the APC no longer has candidates for the governorship, Senate, House of Representatives, and state House of Assembly elections for the 2019 general election. The party also has no state working committee, local government working committees and ward executives.