Sixteen candidates who were contesting for the Rivers State House of Assembly in the 2023 general elections on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have been disqualified from the race.
The candidates were disqualified by the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital on Friday following a suit filed before the court by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The disqualified APC candidates including those who were going for Andoni/Etche constituency 1 and 2; Tai/Gokana/Eleme/Port Harcourt City constituency 1, 2 and 3; Khana constituency 1 and 2, Okrika/Ahoada West and Obio-Akpor 1 and 2 constituencies.
The opposition PDP had filed a suit against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and 33 others at the Federal High Court in the state and prayed the court to disqualify the APC candidates.
The PDP in the suit marked FHC/PH/CS/152/2022, alleged that INEC did not monitor the APC congresses that produced the candidates in the state.
Delivering his judgment on Friday, the presiding judge, Justice Turaki Muhammed dismissed a preliminary objection by the APC on the issue of jurisdiction and locus standi and ruled that the suit was not status barred.
The judge ruled that the PDP proved to the court that the primaries of the affected 16 APC State Assembly candidates were not monitored by the electoral body, INEC.
Reacting to the judgment, the APC Campaign Council in a statement issued in Port Harcourt by its spokesperson, Sogbeye Eli, said that the party was already planning to appeal the High Court ruling.
The statement made available to newsmen stated that “In the circumstance, the Campaign Council is compelled yet again to urge party faithful and millions of Rivers people supporting our candidates in the affected State Constituencies not to despair or be agitated as we proceed on appeal to reverse the judgment and restore our candidates ahead of the elections.
“We recall that the same INEC had led evidence to prove that the Commission monitored the APC primary before another Judge of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt Division in another matter challenging the eligibility of our candidates for the National Assembly (Senate and the House of Representatives).
“The enemies of democracy in our State who are afraid to meet us at the polls are out to break our spirit and force a fait accompli on the Rivers electorate who are backing our candidates but they have failed.
“We will contest the coming elections at all levels and win after setting aside this judgment as the Constitution allows thinformede All Progressives Congress.