Tonye Cole has been disqualified as the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Rivers State.
The verdict was given on Thursday, November 24 by a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.
The governorship hopeful was sacked based on having dual citizenship. Cole is said to be a citizen of the United Kingdom. The court also ruled that the APC did not comply with the Electoral Act that brought in Cole as the party’s candidate.
Rivers State’s ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had earlier approached the court to direct the Independent National Electoral Commission not to recognize Cole as the governorship candidate of APC for alleged dual citizenship.
The party also alleged that the delegate election that produced the APC guber candidate did not follow due process having not been monitored by INEC.
The presiding judge, Justice Emmanuel Obile, agreed with PDP that Cole is not eligible to contest the governorship position.
He thereby directed the electoral commission to delist his name from the list of eligible candidates for the 2023 Governorship election in Rivers State.
The court’s verdict on Thursday was contrary to the earlier ruling on a preliminary objection in a suit by the APC against the PDP and its Governorship candidate Siminialaye Fubara.
In that suit, Justice Obile had ruled that no party has the right to interfere in the internal affairs of other political parties and also said that the court has no jurisdiction to entertain that case.
Reacting, however, to the court’s verdict today, Legal Counsel to the PDP, Dike Udenna, expressed happiness over the judgment which he said means that APC has no governorship candidate for the 2023 General election.
On his part, counsel to the APC, Collins Dike, said the APC would challenge the judgement at the Court of Appeal. He stressed that the constitution of Nigeria allows him to contest the Governorship election, having been born in Nigeria.
According to him, Cole voluntarily acquired citizenship in the United Kingdom which does not prevent him from taking part in the election.