The All Progressives Congress in Rivers State has raised the alarm over the disqualification of its candidates by a Federal High Court ahead of the 2023 elections.
The party alleged that ruling Peoples Democratic Party in the state was using the courts to remove it from the ballot, saying Governor Nyesom Wike was afraid of losing the governorship election for presenting an unpopular candidate, Sim Fubara, who is a former accountant-general of the state.
Apart from the APC candidates, the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt presided over by Justice Turaki Muhammed had also nullified the nominations of 12 state House of Assembly candidates of the African Democratic Congress and the Action Democratic Party.
Justice Mohammed agreed with the PDP that the parties did not comply with the new Electoral Act during their primaries.
The state chapter of the APC had petitioned the Administrative Judge of the Federal High Court to transfer the case of the PDP against it from another judge of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Justice Stephen Daylop Pam, because of his alleged relationship with Wike.
The APC filed an application before the judge to recuse himself from hearing the case, saying it was not sure of getting justice in his court.
But Justice Pam continued hearing of the matter even when the APC led by one of its National Assembly candidates, Ekekiel Amadio, protested against it at one of the sessions.
Chief Chukwuemeka Eze, a chieftain of the APC and an ally of the former Minister of Transpiration, Rotimi Amaechi, accused Wike of doing everything for judges in the state in order to curry their favour.
Eze, a former spokesman for the defunct new PDP (nPDP), said Wike was afraid of losing the governorship election, having imposed an unpopular candidate on his party.
He said, “A man who is taking every other party to court, is it not to make way for his party to win the election?
“He is afraid that with a level playing field, his candidate will lose. The candidate that he has picked or imposed on his party, does he have what it takes? Can he speak in public?
“Can he make any reasonable presentation to the people? We know his background. He (Wike) has brought him because he is the one that can defend all the wrongs the governor has done during his tenure.
“That is why he is doing everything possible like taking people to court, hiring 200,000 aides and signing executive orders that he knows are not in line with the constitution, and doing everything undemocratic to win by all means. And then, you are bringing people from outside to come and sing your praises.”
On the matter that is before the Court of Appeal, he said, “But as being on the ballot, no Jupiter will stop the APC in Rivers State from contesting the elections.”
But in a swift reaction, the state Commissioner for Information, Chris Finebone, said the allegations against the Wike administration were untrue.
He said, “In 2019, no party cost the APC not to be on the ballot, except the APC. In other words, the APC caused its own problem. This time again, they also have their issues among themselves. So I don’t see how the PDP or other parties are responsible for what has befallen them.
“They should be mindful of what they say. They should respect the courts. The judiciary is in no control of any political party.
“The judiciary does its job based on the evidence brought before it. So, they should be mindful of what they say and be sure that they don’t disparage the courts.”
Finebone added that the PDP was busy inaugurating various projects across the state and was focused on winning all the elective positions in the forthcoming elections.
The commissioner stated, “For now, the PDP is busy inaugurating projects across the state. And we are focused on how to win the elections. The blind already are seeing and the deaf are already hearing that the PDP will completely win the elections in Rivers State and there is no question about it.
“The APC is alienated. They have alienated themselves and the others (parties) don’t deserve a mention.”