Indications emerged yesterday that following the Supreme Court ruling on the governorship primaries of the All Progressive Congress, APC, the opposition party in the state may not field a governorship candidate in the election.
And barring any unforeseen circumstances the lot falls on the incumbent and PDP candidate, Nyesome Wike.
A highly placed source at the Headquarters of the independent National Electoral commission, INEC, in legal department said that the Chairman has already assembled a team of Senior Advocate Nigeria, SANs, and some legal minds to furnish him with the appropriate legal advice and judicial interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling on the APC Guber primaries.
According to the source, from all indications APC may not field any Governorship candidate in the 2019 polls excerpt they are able to convince and persuade Senator Magnus Abe and some party chieftains who went to Court to challenge the outcome of the primaries to withdraw the suit from the Court.
He said that as soon as the INEC boss is briefed properly on the issue involved in the Supreme Court ruling he will make the position of the commission clear on the matter which will not be palatable for the APC in Rivers State.
Another source at the the Headquarters of the APC in the office of the National legal adviser also said that the party is working towards a truce between the minister of Transport Rotimi Ameachi and Senator Magnus Abe to reach a compromise on the issue if not governor Nyesom Wike will have a free day.
But the party yesterday to meet up with the deadline for submission of Forms CF001 and CF002 of the list of the governorship and state assemblies candidates by political parties to the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) said Tonye Cole remains its governorship candidate in Rivers State for next year election.
A statement issued by the party and signed by its national publicity secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, claimed the recent judgement of the apex court on the crisis in its Rivers state chapter has no bearing on the primary where Tonye Cole emerged as governorship candidate and the process that produced its candidates for the state assembly.
Daybreak gathered that the Supreme Court last Monday set aside the ruling of the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division, which vacated a stay order made by a Rivers High Court against the conduct of All Progressives Congress congresses in the state.
Delivering the ruling on the interlocutory appeal, Justice Centus Nweze held that the decision of the Court of Appeal was in error. Nweze said the lower court was compelled to be guided by the judgments of the apex court, adding that the panel had to follow the law before arriving on its decision.
Daybreak recalled that Justice Chinwendu Nworgu of the State High Court, on October 11 delivering judgment on a substantive suit, instituted by Ibrahim Umar and 12 other members of the Rivers State APC, challenging their exclusion from the party Congresses, the court voided the list of candidates and sacked the state APC executive.
But the APC last night claimed the judgment of the apex court would not restrain it from submitting Tonye Cole along with his running mate, Hon. Victor Giadom as its candidates in Rivers.
The statement read in part: ” In view of conflicting interpretations that have greeted the recent verdict of the Supreme Court on the contentions among our members in Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), it has become necessary to clarify that the Supreme Court’s verdict has nothing to do with the primaries conducted for the governorship and legislative positions in the state.
“Therefore, the candidature of Arch. Tonye Cole along with his running mate, Hon. Victor Giadom remains inviolate. The list of our candidates for the governorship, National Assembly, and House of Assembly have been processed by the National Working Committee (NWC) according to the INEC guidelines.
“Our party appreciates the support of the good people of Rivers State and their commitment towards the victory of our governorship candidate, Arch. Tonye Cole and other APC candidates at all levels in the 2019 elections. A progressive leadership under the APC beckons and the people of Rivers State are poised to effect a change to move the beleaguered state to a path of progress and development”.
The INEC, however, maintained that it was not aware of the judgment of the apex court on its Rivers State chapter.
Rotimi Oyekanmi, media aide to INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu told journalists that the Commission was ignorant of the court judgment.
He said: “We haven’t been served. It is when we have a copy of the judgment that we can take a position.”