APDA Sues INEC, AGF over Rivers Poll

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  • Asks court to cancel results of 15 LGAs

By Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Advance Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) has dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) before a Federal High Court in Abuja over the Governorship and House of Assembly elections of March 9, 2019.

In an originating summons brought pursuant to order 3 rule 4 of the Federal High Court, the party alongside its governorship candidate in the March 9 election, Warigbani Zebulun, are praying the court for an order for the outright cancellation of the results in 15 local governments where, according to them, collation of results had not been concluded before INEC announced the suspension of the election.

INEC and the AGF are first and second defendants respectively.

In the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/300/2019 and dated March 15 but filed on March 18, 2019, the plaintiffs posed the following questions for determination by the court: “Whether the first defendant can in view of section 26 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended constitute a committee to investigate the suspension of the Governorship and House of Assembly elections in Rivers State held on March 9, 2019 without involving all the candidates who participated in the election.

“Whether the first defendant is right in law to only involve two political parties in the fact finding (i.e PDP, AAC) in the investigation without other political parties who participated in the election.”

In the event the above questions are answered in the affirmative, the plaintiff are therefore seeking the following reliefs: A declaration that the first defendant have no right to suspend election and constitute committee to liaise with only one candidate in the election.

“An order disbanding the committee set up from submitting any report or considering any such report of the committee since they have concluded with the candidature of the PDP and AAC to do their bidding.

“An order directing the first defendant to appoint a new Returning Officer for the local government areas as the present one is compromised.”

The originating summons is supported by a 16-paragraph affidavit deposed to by the APDA governorship candidate, Zebulun, wherein he averred that INEC suspended the Rivers Governorship and House of Assembly elections over alleged violence and ballot snatching, amongst others in some part of Rivers State.

He said after the suspension, INEC set up a committee to investigate the crisis and decided to liaise with only two political parties, thereby leaving him and other candidates out of the meeting.

He submitted that the meeting with only two political parties in the middle of the crisis calls to question the integrity of the electoral umpire.

“That this undermines the credibility ascribed to the election that may further be conducted by the same personality who have sat down with only two parties when there are many other candidates in the election including himself.”

While arguing that the action of INEC infringed on his right and interest in the election, he claimed that the 16 LGAs that we prayed for the cancellation of results are areas where he has strong support but the results were not collated before INEC suspended the election.

He said it would be in the interest of justice to grant the application.

However, when the matter was called on Thursday, the counsel to both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the African Action Alliance (AAC) informed the court of their application seeking to be joined in the suit.

Consequently, trial judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, adjourned the matter till April 2 for hearing of all the applications, adding that the court would give expeditious hearing to the matter.