Reprieve has come the way of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt on Monday ordered a stay of execution of the Federal High Court decision barring the party from fielding candidates in the forthcoming general elections in Rivers State.
The court granted the request of the APC, which had applied for stay of execution of the judgment of the Federal High Court delivered by Justice Kolawole Omotosho.
Justice Mohammed Mustapha, reading the panel’s judgement, said that all parties affected by Justice Omotosho’s judgement have appealed against it and therefore, it will be unjust not to grant the application for stay of execution.
The Court of Appeal decision has been hailed by the Rivers APC governorship candidate, Tonye Cole.
In a statement released in Abuja, Mr. Cole described the ruling as victory for the people of Rivers state.
He urged his supporters to be vigilant and know that the battle is not yet over, adding that the party is making urgent arrangement to ensure that the Independent National Electoral Commission is served with the ruling.
He said, “I just want to take a minute to thank the Almighty God for his grace upon us all. I know without Him, this would be totally impossible. We were up against it. We still are but our God who has been with us throughout this journey will see us to the end.
“I want to spare a thought for the brave judges and the entire judiciary for simply standing firm on the side of justice. We have faith in you. To all our supporters and leaders in the APC, I want to say a big thank you for keeping the faith. The times have been tough – I know, but you have showed that with God, we are already winners.
“To my Rivers people, fear not. Nothing good comes easy. This is but one giant step to the Promised Land.
“We have taken immediate steps to serve INEC by tomorrow with the ruling which will see APC back on the ballot box in time for the elections.”
The Port Harcourt Federal High Court had two weeks ago, nullified the direct and indirect primary elections conducted by two APC factions in the state, ruling that both factions acted in disrespect of a pending suit before a Port Harcourt High Court.
An APC governorship aspirant, Sen. Magnus Abe and other party members had approached the court presided over by Justice Chinwedu Worgu, challenging their alleged exclusion from the primaries.
Justice Omotosho ruled that the APC in Rivers could not produce candidates for governorship, national and state assembly polls, while the matter in court is yet to be resolved.
The learned Justice was of the view that it is illegal for candidates for the 2019 elections to emerge from the two primaries conducted by the two factions during the pendency of the matter at the state high court.