The Court of Appeal, Rivers State, has granted a stay of execution on the judgment of a lower court which nullified the primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.
The Appeal Court ruling was delivered on Monday in Port Harcourt.
The ruling also put on hold an order which restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from having the names of APC candidates on the ballots in the forthcoming general elections in the state.
APC supporters broke into wild jubilation in Port Harcourt, following the court ruling.
“We have always said that the wheel of justice may grind slowly, sometimes annoyingly slowly, but surely justice comes ultimately. We believe that today’s judgment has vindicated APC in Rivers State,” the spokesperson of the APC in Rivers, Chris Finebone, said in a statement in response to the ruling.
The earlier nullification of the APC primaries, including the governorship primary, in Rivers followed a legal battle between a faction of the party loyal to Magnus Abe, a senator from the state, and the one loyal to Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation.
The APC national leadership is backing Amaechi’s faction which produced the party’s governorship candidate in the state, Tonye Cole.
With his faction organising a parallel congress and primaries, Abe is claiming to be the authentic governorship candidate of APC in Rivers.
Abe, who felt shortchanged by the APC, filed the lawsuits which created the pitfalls on the party’s road to the elections.
As it is, if INEC goes ahead to act on the latest court ruling, it means Cole’s name would be on the ballot as the APC governorship candidate in the state.
The battle would now shift to the Supreme Court for a final ruling.
“Anyone who has carefully and painstakingly followed our pending matter at the Supreme Court, especially, during the last sitting before the apex court reserved ruling, will easily and safely conclude that our victory at the Supreme Court is only a matter of time,” the APC spokesperson, Finebone said in the statement.
“The key issues of representation and jurisdiction which Justice Chiwendu Nworgu deliberately overlooked in tailoring his judgment to fit into a predetermined purpose, and yet bandy it as a consent judgment, will be completely deconstructed by the excellent legal minds on the Supreme Court bench.
“In this particular case, the end will justify our dogged efforts as we shall, once again, prevail by God’s grace!” Finebone added.
Cole took to Twitter to react to the court ruling.
“As we celebrate today’s victory, we must not lose sight of the other hurdles we must scale to get to the Brick House,” Cole said through his personal handle @TonyeCole1.