By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has been advised not to allow misleading interpretations of court judgements on Rivers elections put him into judicial troubles.
Giving the advice in a statement on Thursday, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-South region, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, decried the statement of Prof Yakubu on the participation of the Rivers APC in the elections, to the effect that the branch of the party would not be fielding candidates in the elections in Rivers.
According to Eze, there is no judgement of the Supreme Court barring the APC from fielding candidates in the elections, adding that if the INEC chairman allows himself to be misled and used by those he described as enemies of true democracy and and rob Rivers people the opportunity of making a choice they would prefer in the elections, the legal repercussions might be what he would live to regret all through his remaining days on earth.
He reiterated that INEC has no reason not to include the governorship, federal and state assembly candidates in the rescheduled general elections, citing various decisions of higher courts to justify the party’s position, saying that the INEC should without delay include APC in the ballot without further delay.
“Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, wherein he committed to obey a so-called judgment of the Supreme Court, mysteriously premised on error, falsehood and deliberately misleading as there is no Supreme Court judgment anywhere authorizing INEC to delist APC candidates in Rivers state.
“With this fact, I am advising the INEC leadership not to constitute themselves into enemies of democracy by obeying a non-existent Supreme Court judgment. Hence the chairman of INEC must be well guided by credible evidence and not mere media misrepresentations and misinterpretation, which are mischievously aimed at destroying an entire political future of a State.
“For the records, APC had, in a letter, which was addressed to the INEC Chairman, dated February 19, through its like; Messrs Tuduru Ede and Co, argued that the APC duly submitted the list of its candidates for Rivers state for the 2019 general elections in line with the timetable and schedule of activities released by the commission”, he said.
Eze stated that we are aware that pursuant to the judgment in Suit No. FHC/PH/CS/ 149/2018 between Peoples Democratic Party V. All Progressives Congress (APC) & Anor, the names of APC candidates for Rivers State were removed from the final list of candidates published by the commission.
However, the APC aggrieved by the said decision of the Federal High Court on which the decisions of the Commission to remove the list was anchored, appealed to the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division in appeal No. CA/PH/38/2019 and the Court of Appeal in a considered ruling delivered on 6th February 2019 has stayed the execution of the said judgment of the Federal High Court. A copy is hereto annexed as Annexure A for ease of reference”, the party stated.
It went further to state that ” the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division also in another appeal numbered as appeal No. CA/PH/39/ 2019 further stayed the execution of the judgment of Federal High Court, Port Harcourt. A copy is hereto annexed as Annexure B. Furthermore, appeal to the Supreme Court in appeal No. SC 118/2019 against the order of stay of execution granted by the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division has been struck out by the Supreme Court. The order of the Supreme Court is annexed as Annexure.
It is unfortunate that despite the ruling of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, the names of candidates of APC have not been published by the commission for the purpose of participating in 2019 general election.
Thus it is imperative to place on record that the judgment of the Rivers State High Court, in suit No. BHC/78/2018 which was fought to the Supreme Court in appeal No. SC 1332/2018, SC 1333/2018, SC 1334/2018 and SC 81/2018 has nothing to do with INEC as it is not a party thereto. You may also wish to note that in spite of the said Judgment of Rivers State High Court, the commission accepted and published the names of candidates of APC in respect of Rivers State and it was the judgment of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt that warranted the removal of the names from the final list published by the commission which judgment has now been stayed.
The two Federal High Court judgments that INEC relied on to exclude her from the ballot have since been stayed by the Court of Appeal. It is therefore only righteous for INEC to follow the position of the Court and stop playing to the gallery in a manner that is suspicious in flagrant disobedience to Court decisions and rule of law.
To this effect, a further appeal to the Supreme Court against the stays of execution has since been thrown out on record. There is, therefore, no reason to continue to leave APC Rivers off the ballot. All other appeals as they relate to other matters do not concern INEC. They are not party to them”,
In view of the foregoing, I call on the Commission as a law abiding Institution to without delay publish the names of candidates of APC in Rivers State for the 2019 general election as submitted by the APC.
He, however, pleaded with the leadership of the INEC to free itself from the entanglement of bias and doing the bidding of one man by obeying the court order that instructed the commission to recognise and list the party’s candidates in Rivers state.
Eze erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New PDP further revealed that those hellbent of ensuring that APC is not reflected in the ballot are at a game to frustrate the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari by weakening the party structure in the State and causing members to be disillusioned and cause apathy among members in reelecting the President.
Secondly, these evil forces are to ensure that Rt. Hon. Dr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi doesn’t have a political base against the politics of 2023 and sadly Prof Yakubu is playing into their hands and will not expect us to fold hands and watch him ruin the political future of committed and dedicated members of the party.
The party chieftain also charged the people of the state, especially the faithful members of the party to stay focused faithful and believing the best for the new the party.
He pleaded and urges party faithful to come out enmass and vote in President Buhari as that will give us hope that if INEC insists on not reflecting us in the ballot before Saturday we will have better option of redoing the election but if we decide to stay at home and PDP wins the Presidency we should forget of any other opportunity in our rescue mission in the State so it is imperative that we motivate ourselves and come out to vote accordingly.