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Court disqualifies Rivers APC guber candidate, Tonye Cole, from 2023 elections

By Ann Godwin, Port Harcourt
25 November 2022   |   4:05 am
Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has disqualified the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Tonye Cole, from contesting the 2023 general elections.

Tonye Cole (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP)

Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has disqualified the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Tonye Cole, from contesting the 2023 general elections.

Cole was disqualified on grounds of dual citizenship and failure by his party to comply with the Electoral Act.

The Peoples Democratic Party in the state had taken Cole to court, asking the National Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to recognise him as the governorship candidate of APC for alleged dual citizenship and for the failure of the delegates’ election that gave him victory to follow due process.

Justice Emmanuel Obile, in his judgment, agreed with the People’s Democratic Party that Cole, who has dual citizenship is not eligible to contest governorship position and that the APC primary that brought him in was not monitored by Independent National Electoral Commission.

Contrary to the judges earlier decision on preliminary objection in a suit by APC against PDP that no court has right to interfere in a party’s affairs, Justice Obile, in the judgment against APC, held that the court has jurisdiction to hear the matter and thereby directed INEC to delist the name of Cole from the electoral list for 2023 general elections.

Speaking to newsmen after the judgment, one of the counsels for PDP, Dike Udennan, expressed happiness, saying it meant APC has no governorship candidate unless a higher court says otherwise.

Udenna said: “The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has delivered judgment today in the matter between PDP, INEC, APC and Tonye Cole of the APC. The PDP had gone to court challenging the candidacy of Cole on the grounds that he is not eligible to contest the governorship election because in his form, which he submitted to INEC, he stated that he had voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another country (United Kingdom) and that he has sworn allegiance to the United Kingdom.”

In his reaction, one of the counsel for APC, Collins Dike, lamented that the same court, which disagreed with APC that no court has right to interfere in a party’s affairs, had turned around to say otherwise.

He said APC would challenge the judgment in Appeal Court.

“For us the position of the law is very clear, the Constitution is very clear. We are confident that the Appeal Court will do justice in this matter. It will give a proper interpretation of the Constitution.

“Tonye Cole acquired a citizenship of the United Kingdom, he stated so in his forms before INEC but it is also clear that he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth. So, the court read that very clearly from the Constitution and proceeded to disqualify him contrary to the provisions of the Constitution,” he said.