A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, on Thursday, disqualified the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State, Tonye Cole, over his dual citizenship.
Apart from having dual citizenship, the court ruled that the APC did not comply with the Electoral Act in the electoral process that brought in Cole as the candidate of the party.
The sacking of Cole, who is said to be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Nigeria, comes days after another federal court sacked the candidates of the Labour Party in Port Harcourt Federal Constituencies 1 and 2 as well as Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency.
The Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State had approached the court, asking it to direct the Independent National Electoral Commission not to recognise Cole as the governorship candidate of APC for allegedly having dual citizenship. The PDP also noted that the delegate election that brought him did not follow due process and was not monitored by INEC.
But delivering judgment on the suit on Thursday, Justice Emmanuel Obile, who presided over the case agreed with the PDP’s submission that Cole is not eligible to contest for governor.
Justice Obile also declared the primary election that brought Cole null and void and directed INEC to remove his name from the list of eligible candidates for the 2023 governorship election in the state.
Daily Post reports that the decision of the court contradicted its earlier ruling on a preliminary objection in a suit filed by the APC against the PDP and its governorship candidate Siminialaye Fubara.
Justice Obile had in that suit ruled that no party has the right to interfere in the internal affairs of other political parties. The court also held that it has no jurisdiction to entertain the case.
Addressing journalists after the ruling, counsel for the PDP, Dike Udenna commended the judgment, saying it means the APC has no governorship candidate for the 2023 general election in Rivers State.
Counsel to the APC, Collins Dike, however, said the party will challenge the decision at the Court of Appeal.
He said the constitution of Nigeria allows Cole to contest the governorship election since he was 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.