The Rivers State Government has said that the coast is clear legally for it to hold the local government elections.
Speaking while appearing on Rhythm FM 93.7 Port Harcourt news and current affairs programme tagged: ‘View Point’ on Saturday, the State’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Emma Aguma, said that there was no legal reasons for the local government elections not to hold, pointing out that the legal case which the All Progressives Congress (APC) went to Court to validate was dismissed on the grounds that there was no democratically conducted local government election.
He stated that the APC did not appeal against the judgment and wondered why it felt that the matter was Court matter.
“They went to the High Court of Rivers State and the Court said you did not win any democratically conducted election. The Court said you never won any election. No election held. You never appealed the decision yet you say you are elected government. Is that the level of lawlessness we want in Nigeria?”
The Attorney-General explained that the matter in the Federal High Court was about whether or not the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should release Voters’ register to the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) to conduct the election of May 23, 2015.
“There are two cases that sought two different things concerning the local government election. The case in the Federal High Court has to do with the release of Voters’ register. Even if we go back to the Federal High Court, what we will be discussing is whether or not INEC should release Voters’ register to RSIEC to conduct the election of 23/5/2018. While that case was pending there, APC went to the State High Court to get an order that the election was validly conducted. The Court held that no democratically conducted election held in Rivers state and therefore dismissed it. APC has not appealed this case and the implication is, even if we go back to the Federal High Court, it is for the PDP to tell the Court, I am sorry sir, there is no case left here. Even the election of 23/5/2015, a competent Court of Jurisdiction has said that the election never held. I don’t want to sit here and teach them what to do or be their advocate. They should look at the whole picture and understand it. It’s unfortunate; there is no obstacle, in my humble opinion, to Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission conducting elections in this year. If anybody is aggrieved, the person should go to Court.”
Continuing, he said, “The Supreme Court case originated from the Federal High Court case that PDP went to Court to stop INEC from giving the Voters’ register to RSIEC. In spite of that case, RSIEC has conducted an election. APC went to Court to validate that election and failed. APC has not appealed that decision. I will not tell them what to say or do. I will not even guide them. Let them follow whatever path they want to follow. But, I have tried sufficiently to explain to the whole world the two cases.
“You see, APC arrogates to itself the power of the Court and the state. We believe we follow the law and constitution clearly, strictly and to the letter, and we understand all the matters surrounding all the issues. They went to Court to say their tenure will expire on the 24th of May, 2018. Assuming but not conceding that they even get the order that they should go to that council, their tenure will expire on the 24th of May, 2018. Now, does your tenure need to expire before elections are organized? Elections are organized in preparation of the exit. Will President Buhari or the governor complete his tenure before INEC organizes an election? So, whichever way you look at it, the election must be conducted in a democratically minded environment”, he said.
Speaking further, the Commissioner for Justice stated that the Court has nothing to do with the current election, pointing out that APC was using the Court to hide an imminent defeat.
It would be recalled that the Rivers State Chapter of All Progressives Congress said that it will not partake in the local government elections in Rivers State fixed for 16th June 2018 by the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC), hinging its decision on legal circumstances surrounding conducting the election.