By Vivian Onejeme with agency report
The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt on Monday granted a stay of execution of the Federal High Court judgement nullifying all primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.
Apart from nullifying the primaries, Justice Kolawole Omotosho of the Federal High Court had also restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from fielding the party’s candidates in the forthcoming general elections in the state.
But Justice Ali Gumel, who presided on an appeal filed by a faction of the APC in Rivers, granted a stay of execution on the judgement delivered by Justice Omotosho on January 7.
However, the counsels to the Magnus Abe-led faction of the APC argued that a stay of execution cannot be granted on a matter that was already done.
They added that no order was granted by the court to the electoral umpire.
Justice Gumel granted the stay of execution four days after the appeal court reserved its ruling on the matter till today.
The ruling also comes less than two weeks to the general elections.
In his judgment delivered in January, Justice Omotosho had nullified the direct and indirect primaries conducted by the two factions of the APC in Rivers on the grounds that they were not conducted according to the law.
The judged had restrained INEC from recognising the two APC governorship candidates that emerged from the primaries – Tonye Cole and Magnus Abe.
Senator Abe was declared the winner of a direct primary conducted by an APC faction after polling 144, 929 votes.
However, Cole was declared the winner with 3,329 votes in an indirect primary held by another faction of the party in the state.
INEC, on its part, went ahead to publish the names of candidates for the elections in Rivers without including those on the APC platform, in line with the ruling of the Federal High Court.