A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has disqualified the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the state, Tonye Cole, over dual citizenship and non-compliance to the electoral act by his party. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state had filed a suit asking the court to direct Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to recognize Cole as the governorship candidate of APC for alleged dual citizenship. The PDP in the suit also alleged that the APC delegates election that gave Cole the party ticket did not follow due process.
Justice Emmanuel Obile in his judgment agreed with the People’s Democratic Party that Tonye Cole is not eligible to contest the governorship position. He thereafter directed INEC to delist the name of Tonye Cole from the list of eligible candidates for the 2023 Governorship election.
The decision of the court is however contrary to its earlier ruling on a preliminary objection in a suit by the APC against the PDP and its Governorship candidate Siminialaye Fubara.
In that suit, Justice Obile had ruled that no party has the right to interfere in the internal affairs of other political parties and also said that the court has no jurisdiction to entertain that case.
Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom counsels to the PDP, Dike Udenna expressed happiness over the judgment which he said means that APC has no governorship candidate for the 2023 General election.
On his part, counsel to the APC, Collins Dike said the APC will challenge the judgment at the Court of Appeal. He said the constitution of Nigeria allows him to contest the Governorship election having been born in Nigeria.
The lawyer said Tonye Cole “voluntarily acquired the citizenship of the United Kingdom” which does not prevent him from taking part in the election.