Rivers APC chieftain flays Cole for sustaining petition despite party’s withdrawal
•Candidate at liberty to challenge result without party, says lawyer
Decision of the governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the March 18 election in Rivers State, Tonye Cole, to sustain his petition at the election petition tribunal has been criticised by acclaimed leader of the party in the state, Tony Okocha.
Okocha said it is rare for a party to withdraw a petition and abandon its governorship candidate to his fate. He, however, alleged that the major reason for the party’s action may be anti-party activities by Cole.
Okocha, who spoke in Port Harcourt, at the weekend, challenged the APC candidate to clear himself of the anti-party allegation levelled against him.
He said: “It is rare to have a party withdraw a petition and leave the petitioner to his fate. Many reasons abound. First, the party may have found it’s a waste of time and resources knowing that grounds of challenge are weak.
Secondly, the party may have been displeased by the candidate’s infidelity to the party.”
The state APC leader said it was the burden of anti-party activities that infuriated the action of mainstream APC members, who believed in President Bola Tinubu, to support the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) governorship candidate, Siminalaye Fubara, in reciprocation of former governor Nyesom Wike’s support.
Recall that on May 22, the state chapter of APC agreed to withdraw its petition against PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Spokesman of Tonye Cole Campaign Organisation, Sogbeye Eli, said Cole, as the 1st petitioner on record, is still before the court. He noted that APC, as the 2nd petitioner on record, withdrew the petition through its legal representative, Solomon Umoh.
But reacting to the development, a lawyer and a political analyst in the state, Godswill Dike, said Cole is at liberty to sustain his petition at the tribunal without the support of his party.
Dike in an interview with The Guardian, yesterday, explained that the Electoral Act 2022 provided that an aggrieved candidate in an election can file his petition without the backing of his party.