The Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division, set aside the judgment of Justice Emmanuel A. Obile of the Federal High Court Port Harcourt.
Justice Obile had disqualified all the candidates of the All Progressives Congress for the 2023 general elections in Rivers State.
Delivering judgment in Appeal Numbers: CA/PH/496/2022 (All Progressives Congress v. George Orlu & Ors), CA/PH/505/2022 (Nwankwo Ndubuisi Ozoije & 47 Ors v. George Orlu & 7 Ors), CA/PH/519/2022 (Tonye Patrick Cole v. All Progressives Congress & 7 Ors) and CA/PH/521/2022 (Independent National Electoral Commission v. George Orlu & 6 Ors), the panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal presided over by Justice M. L. Shuaibu in unanimous decision left very harsh words on the trial Court Judge for erring in law and misdirection of self in the decisions he took.
The Court of Appeal upheld the supremacy of political parties in superintending over their internal affairs.
The Appeal panel noted that same is subject to the clear provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as altered) and Section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022.
“A political party is supreme over its internal affairs”, the Court of Appeal held in All Progressives Congress v. George Orlu & Ors.
On the particular limb of the appeal by the APC challenging the decision in George Orlu & Ors, the Justices resolved all five issues formulated by the Appellant against the 1st to 6th Respondents.
Ruling on the case of the appeal filed by the APC candidates for the National Assembly and Rivers State House of Assembly (Ndubuisi Nwankwo Ozoije & 47 Ors v. George Orlu & 7 Ors), the presiding jurist noted that “I was actually perplexed with this strange approach adopted by the trial Judge… The trial Judge was in serious error”.
Similarly, the Court of Appeal threw out Justice Obile’s judgment in the appeal filed by the Rivers APC governorship candidate, Arch. Tonye Cole in CA/PH/519/2022 (Tonye Patrick Cole v. All Progressives Congress & 7 Ors).
Irked by a plethora of such actions by several political parties seeking disqualification of candidates of opposing parties, the Court had admonished the Legal Advisers of both the APC and PDP in Rivers State, Iheanyichukwu Dike, Esq. and Lawrence Chuku, Esq respectively, to advise their parties against undertaking such voyages of legal frivolity and directed Counsel to the Appellant to address it on jurisdiction before it would proceed. Accordingly, the appeal was struck out after the Appellant’s Counsel applied to withdraw same.
It would be recalled that the Rivers PDP itself had filed similar cases to disqualify candidates of the APC via questionable compliance with the 1999 Constitution and Electoral Act 2022 in their nomination.
The PDP, specifically in Peoples Democratic Party v. Independent National Electoral Commission & 2 Ors (FHC/PH/CS/149/2022), got Justice Emmanuel A. Obile, who had declined jurisdiction in the APC case to assume same and proceeded to disqualify Arch. Tonye Patrick Cole, the governorship candidate of the APC, in a judgment he delivered on the 24th of November 2022.
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