Supreme Court strikes out appeal by Magnus Abe APC faction in Rivers

Supreme Court of Nigeria
Supreme Court of Nigeria

The Supreme Court on Monday struck out a motion seeking to determine the authentic candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the 2019 governorship election in Rivers State.

A seven-member panel of the Court struck out the request after ruling that the manner in which the applicants brought their prayer was incompatible with the laid down procedure for such applications. The judgment was delivered by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mohammad Tanko.

The applicants are members of the APC in the Magnus Abe faction of the party. The court also said they were wrong in including people who were not part of the matter before the case arrived the Supreme Court.

The court added that the time allowed for such applications was 14 days after the date the case was determined at the lower court.

Mr Tanko added that the decision of the parties to amend their request after 14 days, rendered their application defective.

Consequently, the apex court ruled that the application was lacking in merit and struck it out.

Mr Abe had approached the court to determine whether the candidate produced by his faction or that produced by the Tonye Cole-led faction was the authentic candidate in the election.
His application followed an initial decision of the Supreme Court which affirmed the nullification of the primaries conducted by a faction of the APC.

Background

The Rivers APC has two factions, one loyal to the serving senator, Mr Abe, and another to Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi. While Mr Amaechi’s faction produced Mr Cole as governorship candidate, Mr Abe’s faction produced him as the candidate.
On May 11, 2018, a high court in Rivers presided by Chinwendu Nwogu gave an injunction barring the APC from conducting its congress scheduled for the next day.

The party, from the faction loyal to Mr Cole, ignored the injunction and proceeded with the congress on May 12. The party also conducted other congresses where party representatives loyal to Mr Ameachi emerged as candidates for the state elections.

In addition, the factional members challenged the decision in a motion brought before the Appeal Court on May 15.

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Following that request, on June 21, 2018, the Court of Appeal affirmed the congresses conducted by the APC and nullified the injunction issued by the High Court.

Dissatisfied, Mr Abe’s faction challenged the June 21 decision at the Supreme Court.

Consequently, on October 22, the Supreme Court nullified the judgment of the Court of Appeal and questioned the lower court for allowing a request by “applicants in breach of an existing court order.”

But the APC members led by Mr Cole approached the court with yet another request. Subsequently, on February 4, the Court of Appeal affirmed the candidate of the faction led by Mr Cole as the authentic candidate of APC for the state governorship election.

However, following a further appeal on February 8, Mr Abe’s faction secured another victory which saw the apex court nullifying the decision of the Court of Appeal on February 4.

The apex court viewed that the appeal court was wrong in its actions and evoked section 22 of the Supreme Court rules which allowed it to revoke decisions termed wrongful by the lower court.

Subsequently, Mr Abe again returned to the Supreme Court with a request for the court to make a final pronouncement on who is the rightful candidate of the party is, in the general elections.

The Court has, however, struck out the request for lacking in merit.

Speaking during an interview with journalists after the ruling, Mr Abe’s lawyer, Henry Bello, said the Supreme Court decision has taken away their opportunity to determine the authentic candidate of the party in the recent election. He, however, said the applicants are bound by the final decision.

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