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Abe's Counsel Faults Appeal Court's Ruling On Stay Of Execution

Counsel to Senator Magnus Abe in the ongoing legal battle involving the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) in Rivers State over the party's governorship candidate for the 2019 General Elections has faulted the ruling of the Court of Appeal in Port-Harcourt on Monday which granted an application for stay of execution for All Progressives' Congress on the ruling by the Federal High Court in Port-Harcourt.

Abe's counsel, Barr. Patrick Luke, who spoke with newsmen at the Appeal Court premises after the ruling, said that the Court of Appeal should not have granted APC's application for stay of execution on the Federal High Court ruling by Justice James Omotosho since the act for which the APC went to court for stay of execution was already completed.

He said that since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had released final list of candidates of political parties for the 2019 general elections in Rivers State, it was needless for the Court of Appeal to have granted the motion for stay of execution on the Federal High Court ruling which had directed the INEC not to recognize any APC candidates in Rivers State for the forthcoming general elections.

Abe's counsel said: “Legally speaking, you cannot order for a stay of execution of a completed act. The act they sought to stay is for INEC to remove the names of the candidates of APC from their list. That act is already completed. For the records, on the 7 of January, 2019, INEC published list of candidates of political parties for 2019 General Elections in Rivers State for the House of Representatives and for the Senate and the names of candidates of APC were conspicuously omitted because they were obeying the order of the judgement of the Federal High Court of January 7, 2019.

“Again, on Friday, 31st of January, 2019, INEC further published a final list of candidates for 2019 elections for APC and other candidates in Rivers State. Obviously, the governorship candidate and the House of Assembly candidates of All Progressives Party (Congress) were conspicuously omitted. They were not published.  That again is in line with the decision of the Federal High Court of 7th of January, 2019. The implication is that those acts sought to be stayed have already been completed by the 43rd respondent, which is INEC”.

 He also said that INEC did not file any process to refute that they did not publish any list, saying that since INEC did not file any process, it was accepted as “uncontradicted” under the provisions of the law.

Barr. Luke said that there was no reason for members of the All Progressives' Congress in Rivers State to jubilate, arguing that the act sought to be stayed by the APC had already been completed by the INEC.

He further said that the Appeal Court did not also ask INEC to put back the names of the APC candidates in Rivers State on its list which it had previously removed.

He said that his clients would appeal against the ruling by the Appeal Court.

However, there was jubilation among members of the Chibuike Amaechi-led faction of the APC at the court premises after the court's ruling.

An APC candidate for Rivers South-East Senatorial District, Hon. Orji Ngofa, said that the Court of Appeal's ruling had brought candidates of the APC back on the ballot, adding that the APC was ready to be part of the forthcoming general elections.

In his ruling on Monday, Honorable Justice Mohammed Mustapha, said that it would be unfair and unjust for names of the APC candidates to be removed from the INEC list.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Media and Publicity of the Rivers State PDP Campaign Organization, Hon. Emma Okah, who is also the State Commissioner for Information, while reacting to the ruling said that the ruling by the Appeal Court granting the stay of execution for APC would not deter the PDP, saying that the party is strong and building on its strength in readiness for the forthcoming general elections.