The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has revealed that it collected the list of candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State because there was no court order or judgment barring it from doing so, Thisday reports.
The Supreme Court had on October 22, 2018, descended on the Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal for granting an application in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in respect of the conduct of the party’s congresses in the state.
A five-man panel of the Supreme Court, in its unanimous judgment, held that the Court of Appeal committed “a sacrilegious exercise of discretion” by favouring the APC in its June 21, 2018, judgment despite the party’s decision to conduct its congresses in Rivers State in disobedience of subsisting orders of the court.
The Supreme Court faulted the action of the APC, and described the conduct of the party’s ward, local government and state congresses of May 19, 20 and 21, 2018, respectively, in Rivers State, in violation of a pending court order as “condemnable, egregious and preposterous.”
The five-man panel of the apex court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, upheld the appeal filed against the APC by 23 aggrieved members of the party in Rivers State.
The National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress, Adams Oshiomole, had on Friday, said the party will conduct fresh congresses in the state due to the supreme court judgement that nullified the May Congresses of the party.
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole said at a press conference that the party would abide by the court ruling and would soon put measures in place to conduct fresh congresses across the state.
According to him: “On the judgment given by the Supreme Court, as a political party, we respect the judiciary, we also appreciate that in truth and in fact, democracy is basically about the celebration of the rule of law and not the rule of might.
“Based on this fact, which is not a choice, we are obliged to respect the rule of law and at the heart of that is total obedience to the letters and the spirit of judicial findings which are not meant to
But while speaking with THISDAY on the phone yesterday, INEC National Commissioner on Voter Education and Publicity, Festus Okoye, said as at the time APC submitted the list, INEC has not been served any court order or any judgment barring the party from submitting the list.
According to him, “The APC conducted party primary in the state and the party primary election was monitored by INEC, and at the end of the day, the National Chairman of APC and the National Secretary forwarded the list of candidates that emerged from the primary election to INEC, and INEC collected the list as submitted by the national chairman and secretary of the APC.”
Okoye added that “on the date of submission of the list, there was no order from any court of law served on INEC to the effect that the electoral body should not collect the list of candidates from Rivers State.”
He said what INEC has done is what the law says in terms of political party submitting the list of their candidates.
Okoye stressed that in the next few days, INEC would publish the list of candidates for governorship and state House of Assembly elections in the various constituencies in accordance with the law.