By Lizzy Ikuru
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers says it will not participate in the alleged illegality of the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission’s (RSIEC) proposed conduct of Local Government Councils Elections on June 16, 2018.
The Chairman of APC in Rivers, Chief Davies Ikanya, made the assertion at a news conference on Wednesday in Port Harcourt.
The RSIEC Chairman, Justice C. I. Uriri, had on March 13, informed stakeholders at a meeting that the commission would conduct councils elections because it was worried over the vacancies.
Ikanya said that it was shocking for the RSIEC chairman to express worries that there had not been local government elections in the state on the grounds that the law abhours vacuum.
He said there was no vacuum in the leadership of the local government councils since the term of office of the elected chairmen and councillors had not expired and was a subject of litigation before the courts.
“Uriri, who served as a Judge of the High Court of Rivers should have known better that there is no vacuum and advise the state government to stop putting Rivers in the news for bad reasons.
“The local government leadership case is a subject of litigation before the Federal High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court in Suit No: PHC/PH/CS/84/2015, Appeal Nos: CA/PH/338/2016 and SC/536/2016 respectively,’’ he said.
According to Ikanya, until the cases are decided by the courts, any action by RSIEC and the Rivers Government on the subject matter is an affront to the rule of law.
“Based on this, the APC will not partake in the contempt and sacrilege of Gov. Nyesom Wike and RSIEC over the local government elections in the state slated for June 16 because it’s an illegality,’’ he added.
The Rivers APC chairman said the RSIEC in 2015 issued a notice in accordance with the RSIEC Law to the public and called on political parties wishing to sponsor candidates to present their candidates.
He said the Rivers electoral umpire successfully conducted the Local Government Council elections in the state on Dec. 23, 2015.
“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took an action by way of originating summons against INEC, RSIEC, Governor of Rivers, Inspector-General of Police and the State Security Service before the Federal High Court presided over by Justice Lambo Akanbi.
“The PDP also filed alongside the originating summons, a motion on notice on Dec. 27, 2015 for an order of mandatory injunction setting aside the LGA elections conducted by INEC and RSIEC.
“Justice Akanbi delivered a ruling on July 9, 2015 in favour of the PDP and the elected chairmen of the 22 LGAs filed an application before the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal as interested parties.
“The leave was granted o June 20, 2016,’’ he said.
Ikanya said the APC and the 23 LGA chairmen had earlier approached the Federal High Court to challenge their dissolution by Gov. Wike.
He said they also sought to be joined in the matter in a motion on notice filed on their behalf on April 22, 2015 in Suit No: PHC/PH/CS/84/2015 as necessary parties.
“This is to enable them file and serve their counter affidavit in opposition to the motion seeking to nullify that election.
“The motion also prayed for the trial court to stay its ruling to enable them file a counter affidavit in opposition to the motion seeking to nullify their elections.
“Justice Akanbi, formerly of the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court, refused to fix it for hearing and did not even issue hearing notice to the 22 LGA chairmen.
“Dissatisfied by the decision of the lower court, the 22 LG chairmen appealed to the Court of Appeal where the Rivers governor filed an application for a stay of ruling on the matter,’’ Ikanya said.
The APC chairman said the Court of Appeal, however, ruled against Wike and PDP prompting their move to the Supreme Court.
“Delivering its ruling, the Supreme Court struck out the matter, dismissing the entire prayer of Wike and Rivers PDP.
“The apex court ordered the Appeal Court to admit the elected 23 LG chairmen as parties, so the Court of Appeal is expected to proceed with the matter and deliver judgment,’’ he said.
Ikanya also said the constitutionality of the RSIEC Law 2018 was a subject of litigation before the Federal High Court between APC and INEC & Ors. in Suit No: FHC/PH/CS/13/2018.
“It is just but laughable that RSIEC as currently empanelled is engaging in a wild goose chase of conducting an election which RSIEC as a party is aware that the matter is subjudice.
“That is, the case is actively before the courts and, the belief is that, any words or acts that are likely to influence the case could invite prosecution for contempt of court.
“The APC and the 22 LG chairmen will approach the Court of Appeal with these facts and ensure that Wike and the PDP are not allowed to benefit from their brazen impunity and lawlessness,’’ the chairman said.