Rivers rerun: PDP, APC disagree over court order

A court order restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from announcing result of the suspended legislative rerun election from Tai Local Government Area of Rivers State has become a subject of controversy and discord between the state chapters of the People Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

A Federal High Court, sitting in Port Harcourt, had granted an interlocutory injunction stopping the national electoral body from generating, compiling or announcing any results of rerun election for the local government area.

The court ruling was subsequent upon a legal action taken by PDP on June 29, 2016, in Suit Number FHC/PHC/CS/523/2016, seeking to restrain INEC from “announcing any results or figures whatsoever purporting to be result of the rerun election in Tai.”

While PDP insisted that INEC was bound by law to obey the ruling of the court, APC described the court ruling as worthless, adding that only an election tribunal was competent to rule on matters concerning elections.

Addressing a press conference in Port Harcourt, on Wednesday, the PDP candidate for the rerun election in Eleme/Oyigbo/Tai Federal Constituency, Dr Jacobson Nbina, said there was no election in the affected local government area on that particular day.

He said the re-run election did not commenced in the local government area and was not conducted in any way before it was called off by the INEC Electoral Officer in charge of Tai,  Mr Emmanuel Eborty.

Also addressing newsmen, on Thursday, Rivers PDP publicity secretary, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike, said INEC would be acting against the rule of law should it go ahead and announce the result of an election that did not hold.

He specifically admonished the INEC National Commissioner (Operations), Mrs Amina Zakari, not to declare the Tai election results, describing such results as concocted.

“INEC must obey the court order or go to a higher court to vacate the order. If APC is saying that the order is worthless, that means that the party is not ready to obey the rule of law.

“A court of competent jurisdiction has given an order and it behoves INEC to obey the order or vacate it (order) at a higher court. Amina Zakari has no reason to declare a concocted result of Tai Local Government Area election.

“They should stay away from anything that will endanger the will of Tai people.

No material was distributed in the 10 wards of Tai Local Government Area. Two lives were lost on the day of the election on March 19, 2016.

“The Electoral Officer of the area said that the situation in Tai, where some of the adhoc workers were kidnapped and election materials hijacked, did not allow voting to take place. So how the result for Tai come about?”, he asked.

Reacting however, his APC counterpart, Mr Chris Finebone, said the Electoral Act forbade any court from questioning INEC in any manner other than by petition to a tribunal or court to complain of undue election.

Describing the court order which restrained INEC from announcing the Tai results as worthless and inconsequential, he said PDP was just embarking on an ego trip, using the courts.

“In any case, the Electoral Act 2010, Section 133, Sub 1, forbids any courts (sic) from questioning INEC in any manner other than by petition, complaining of an undue election or undue return presented to competent tribunal or court.

“Definitely, the Federal High Court PDP purportedly obtained its order does not qualify to issue such an order. It is indeed a worthless court order as far as APC is concerned,” he said.