The All Progressives Congress, APC, in Rivers State has threatened to disrupt the 2019 general elections if the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, fails to enlist the party’s candidates to contest the gubernatorial, national and state assembly elections in February and March.
Recall that a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, on January 7, declared that the Direct and indirect primaries of the Rivers State APC are illegal, null and void.
The court further nullified all nominations of the APC in Rivers State for the forthcoming elections in 2019.
The court declared that both the Direct and indirect primaries were held during the pendency of the suit at the Rivers State High Court.
Justice Kolawole Omotosho in his judgment in the suit filed by Senator Magnus Abe and others versus Rivers APC and others declared that the APC for failing to respect the law must bear the consequences of her disobedience of the law, thereby nullifying the primary elections.
The court further declared that both the Direct and indirect primaries were held during the pendency of the suit at the Rivers State High Court.
According to Justice Omotosho, the APC conducted the indirect primaries in gross disrespect of the pending suit before Justice Chinwendu Nwogu of the Rivers State High Court.
INEC in its publication of the National assembly aspirants on January 17, candidates of the All Progressives Congress were not included which points to the fact that the commission had effected the judgement of the Federal High Court.
But the party’s candidates during a press conference on Thursday said that the electoral umpire and the judiciary are in bed with the state governor, Nyesom Wike, in a grand plan designed to stop them from fulfilling their constitutional rights of aspiring for political offices.
They stated that the dicision by INEC to delist the National Assembly candidates from participating in the election without waiting for the plethora of cases pending before various courts to take their course through the apex court for final decisions all in a hurried bid to satisfy Gov. Wike is an invitation to anarchy which should be avoided.
According to them, what INEC has done in this regard is to destroy or tamper with the “Res” of their appeals without their being fully determined
Read the full statement below
THE ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS (APC) RIVERS STATE PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE RECENT UNLAWFUL ACT OF INEC OVER THE 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS IN RIVERS STATE.
We the duly nominated National and State Assembly candidates of the APC have watched the strange developments taking place in Rivers State in the buildup to the 2019 general election and have decided to speak up to the relevant agencies and the public before the ambition of one man (Gov. Wike) will plunge Rivers State into another round of avoidable crisis.
The recent happenings in Rivers State and the judicial pronouncements have clearly shown to the world the person (Gov. Wike) behind the intra-party issues within Rivers State APC and what he hoped to achieve from it, which is to exclude the APC from participating in the 2019 elections for fear of his guaranteed loss at the election because of poor performance in government. We are surprised that Gov. Wike who prides himself as “Mr. Projects” and the PDP that claims to be the popular party in Rivers State are afraid to go into a free and fair election/contest in Rivers State with the APC. It is on record that Gov. Wike boasted and informed his party (PDP) members who have also made it their mantra long before Justice Nworgu gave his infamous judgment that APC would not have any candidates in Rivers State to run against him and other PDP candidates. And what has transpired between him, the courts, and INEC is a manifestation of this boast and his fear/trepidation of going into election against APC candidates in Rivers State.
We had been silent as this drama unfolded but because evil thrives when good men do or say nothing, we decided to speak up and let Nigerians know the true position of the political happenings in Rivers State particularly in view of the recent unlawful action of INEC to delist APC National Assembly candidates from the 2019 general election in spite of INEC’s knowledge that the issues relating to it are before various courts of law for which final decisions were still awaited, thus confirming INEC’s collaboration with Gov. Wike and the PDP.
For the records, we would like to state the following;
i. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognizes the establishment of political parties, and guarantees them right to sponsor candidates for National Assembly, State Assembly and other elective positions in Nigeria.
ii. The same Constitution also provides for our right to belong to political parties.
iii. Following (i) above, the electoral law of Nigeria gives political parties rights to carry out the process of nominating candidates for election in accordance with their own guidelines.
iv. Also the electoral law recognizing that the electoral process is a time limited event arising from the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution (1999) was crafted such that the courts would not interfere with it but the courts in Rivers State have willfully violated this thereby affecting the rights of Rivers people to freely choose their leaders/representatives.
v. We are aware that no section in the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended) or the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria empowered INEC or the courts to delist any duly nominated candidate whose name had been submitted by the party and acknowledged by INEC without their voluntary withdrawal or death.
vi. We are also aware that there was no suit, not to talk of a subsisting court order, stopping APC from holding primaries in Rivers State. This is notwithstanding the fact that S. 87 (10) of the Electoral Act 2010, (as amended) clearly prohibits the Courts from stopping the holding of the primaries of any Political Party even pending the determination of any suit in Court.
vii. We the National and State Assembly candidates of APC recognizing these Constitutional provisions and the provisions of the electoral law of Nigeria have participated in the electoral process to the point of being sponsored as candidates of our party the APC and duly nominated/recognized by INEC as such.
viii. Thus, the recent premature action by INEC to delist our National Assembly candidates from participating in the election without waiting for the plethora of cases pending before various courts to take their course through the apex court for final decisions all in a hurried bid to satisfy Gov. Wike is an invitation to anarchy which should be avoided. What INEC has done in this regard is to destroy or tamper with the “Res” of our appeals without their being fully determined.
ix. We want to remind INEC and the general public that in the history of democratic government in Nigeria and the world, no one has ever risen to power with the amount of blood spilled by the Wike led government in 2015 and we would not allow a repeat of same in this 2019 general election hence a level playing field should be provided for all parties by the agencies of government concerned.
x. The people of Rivers State are already fed up with the bad governance of Gov. Wike and his PDP collaborators which have brought tension to the State and we would advise INEC not to aggravate the already tense situation. We are not unaware of Gov. Wike’s penchant for always threatening to kill or destroy INEC staff and Rivers people who are on his way. We on behalf of ourselves and the good people of Rivers State are ready to take our destiny in our own hands, and are ready to meet him at Philippi.
xi. The primary purpose of election is for the people to FREELY CHOOSE who would lead/represent them and denying duly nominated candidates of APC in Rivers State the opportunity to participate in the 2019 election under any guise is simply denying the good people of Rivers State their right to FREELY CHOOSE their leaders. An injustice that should and would not be allowed to stand.
We the people of Rivers State had always prior to the emergence of Gov. Wike and his acolytes been a peace loving and law abiding people who would not want INEC and Gov. Wike to plunge Rivers State into another crisis as our people deserve better. Rivers people must without coercion freely choose their leaders in this 2019 election as against what obtained in 2015. The choice to remain in darkness or free themselves from the forces of darkness must be freely made by Rivers people. The world should remember how Gov. Wike rode to power on the blood of thousands of innocent Rivers indigenes whilst they watched and played the Ostrich. He has clearly shown that he is ready to go through that route again by manipulating the judiciary and INEC and threatening hell and brimstone if he is resisted. LET INEC, THE JUDICIARY, AND NIGERIANS BE TOLD THAT ANY BLOOD SPILLED AS A RESULT OF THEIR INACTION OR WILLFUL COLLUSION WITH GOV. WIKE WILL BE ON THEIR OWN HANDS/HEAD. Enough is enough.
The law is supposed be to blind and without respect of persons, but in Rivers State it has sight and is bent on recognizing only the person of Gov.Wike and his co-travelers but we leave that to God, the righteous Judge. We decry the unwarranted interruption of our campaigns by the courts in Rivers State but have obeyed it as law abiding citizens. However, the electoral guidelines published by INEC specifies given periods for campaigns by political parties hence we would also warn that we shall take same time to campaign from the day the order is lifted as what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. We would not sit idly by while undue advantage is given to our opponents in this election thus causing us not to compete favourably.
Delightfully, we are not deterred by these shenanigans as the quest to free Rivers State from the shackles of insecurity, unemployment and poverty in the midst of riches is a task that must be accomplished.
In light of the above, we demand the following:
1. that INEC should with immediate effect and apology to the APC and Rivers people, relist APC candidates in Rivers State for the 2019 General Elections.
2. that INEC should give the same enabling time and environment for political campaigns to the APC in Rivers State as they have given to the PDP and other parties.
3. that failing the above two demands, there should be no National Assembly, State Assembly and Governorship election in Rivers State until all the cases pending before various courts have gone through their course to the apex court for final decisions, and our right to fair hearing guaranteed;
As God fearing people we conclude by aligning ourselves with this Biblical injunction which commands us to, “learn to do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppressed” (Isaiah 1:17 KJV), hence this position.
God bless Nigeria.
God bless Rivers State.
God bless the All Progressives Congress (APC).