Rivers APC: Legal odyssey ends in despair
In the past eleven months, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State has been locked in a cycle of legal tussle that only came to an end at the Supreme Court, last week.
The APC’s self-inflicted crisis due to its failure to adhere to the tenets of internal democracy flagrant disobedient to court orders, denied it the privilege of participating in the 2019 general elections in Rivers State.
Even with the conclusion of the general election, the party’s gubernatorial “candidates,” Tonye Cole and Senator Magnus Abe, were hopeful that the Supreme Court (which had on 12 February 2019, upheld the verdict of Justice Chiwendu Worgu of the Rivers State High Court, nullified the May 2018 APC ward, local council, state congresses, as well last August primaries) would reverse itself and declare that the APC ought to have been on the ballot.
Had this been the case, it would have had a massive impact on the state, as a fresh election would have been ordered. The prospect of that really kept the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the edge.
APC legal odyssey started in May 2018 when Justice Worgu granted an order restraining it from proceeding with its ward, local council and state congresses, following a suit filed by 23 pro-Abe supporters, who despite paying for nomination forms to participate in the ward congress, were schemed out of the process.
In sheer defiance of the court’s restraining order, the Minister of Transportation Chibuike Amaechi’s faction proceeded to organise the congresses, prompting the court, which considered this a bare-faced affront on the judiciary, to subsequently void the entire congresses and primaries of the party.
It would be recalled that after the August APC parallel primaries, which produced Cole and Abe respectively, the national leadership of the party submitted Cole, Amaechi’s preferred candidate as the party’s governorship candidate to INEC. Cole was declared the winner of the indirect primaries of the party.
After exploring all internal party conflict resolution mechanisms, Abe and 43 others who emerged winners of the parallel direct primaries decided to file a suit at a Federal High Court presided over by Justice Kolawole Omotosho, where they sought to be declared authentic candidates of the party.
In January, Justice Omotosho dismissed Abe’s faction suit on the premise that their primaries was not monitored by the National Working Committee of the party. The court also relied on the judgment of Justice Nwogu, which nullified the ward, local council, state and primaries to iss