Supreme Court Dismisses Abe’s Appeal on Rivers APC Primary

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bY Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Supreme Court on Monday struck out the appeal filed by Senator Magnus Abe seeking the apex court’s pronouncement on the authenticity or otherwise of the direct primary conducted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State for the nomination of its candidates for the 2019 general election.

A seven man panel of Justices of the apex court in striking out the appeal, held that the notice of appeal filed by the senator representing Rivers Southeast at the upper chamber of the legislature was defective and not in compliance with the rule of the court.

Acting CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, who delivered the unanimous decision of the 7 man panel of justice of the court held that the notice of Appeal was defective because it did not contain the names and titles of parties in the matter.

The panel in a unanimous judgment delivered by the acting CJN also held that the notice of appeal offended section 285 of the 1999 constitution since the amendment cannot be done to the notice of appeal in view of the fact that the 14 days required by law to file the appeal had expired.

Senator Magnus Abe, who is a factional leader of the Rivers APC, is praying the apex court to make a final pronouncement on the legality of both direct and indirect primary polls conducted by the two factions of the party last year.

At the resumed hearing Monday, counsel to the APC, Jibrin Okutekpa SAN, objected to hearing of the appeal on the grounds that names of appropriate persons affected by the suit were not listed on the notice of appeal and thereby rendered the appeal incompetent and incurably defective.

Justice Mohammad in the ruling upheld Okutekpa’s submissions and accordingly struck out the appeal on the grounds that it was defective.

The court rejected the plea by Abe’s lawyer, Henry Bello, that the ommission commited by him should not be visited on his client, adding that the notice of appeal cannot be refiled because the 14 days allowed by law to do so, had expired.

Bello, in moving the motion last month had prayed the apex court to amongst others grant accelerated hearing in the matter, abridgment of time within which parties were to file their processes and a definite date for hearing of the appeal.

The motion dated March 1, was predicated on eight grounds and affidavit of urgency among which is that the matter being a pre-election suit must by law be fully determined within 60 days.

Respondents in the appeal are; Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), APC and another governorship aspirant, Tonye Cole along with 36 others.

Meanwhile the apex court will on Thursday April 11, hear the appeals filed by another factional governorship candidate, Tonye Cole, and the All Progressives Congress.

The appeals are: SC 295/ 20019, filed by APC, with PDP listed among respondents; SC266, filed by APC, with Magnus Abe and others as respondents and SC/267/2019 filed by Tonye Patrick Cole, with Magnus Abe and 48 others as respondents.