Tonye Cole, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, has insisted that his party will participate in the forthcoming elections in the state.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had barres APC candidates in Rivers from participating in the elections, in line with a Supreme Court judgment on the matter relating to the conduct of primaries in the state.
Members of the party have protested their exclusion from the elections. However, the commission insists its actions are in line with the court judgment.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Cole urged APC supporters in the state to prepare to participate in the elections.
The statement read: “I want to start by telling our supporters in APC and around the state that not only will we participate in the elections, we will win them. It is better to be prepared, than for the opportunity to come and we are not prepared. The opportunity is coming. Be prepared.
“I have been reliably informed that the truth about the actual legal position has now been made clear at the highest levels in INEC. We expect the right thing will be now be done to avoid excluding the APC, because failure to do so will mean the election into the National Assembly seats scheduled to hold on Saturday will have to be repeated.
“Two options exist for INEC if they want to be on the right side of the law. The first is to put our logo on the ballot. Failing that, they are left with only one other option. That will be to postpone the elections for National Assembly and hold it at a later date. If either option is not exercised, the appropriate legal actions will be activated.”
He went on to list the points of the party’s legal position as follows:
“1. INEC accepted the APC list of candidates in spite of the Justice Nworgu high court judgement asking them not to, because they were not a party to it.
“2. PDP and Magnus Abe in recognizing this went to Justice Omotosho of the Federal High Court to enforce the Justice Nworgu judgement and this time made INEC a party.
“3. It was on that basis INEC enforced the Omotosho judgements and removed APC from the ballot as directed.
“4. Both Omotosho judgements have since been stayed by the court of appeal. A further appeal to the Supreme Court against those stays of execution has since been thrown out at the Supreme Court.
“5. There is, therefore, no reason to continue to leave APC Rivers off the ballot. All other appeals as it relates to other matters are products of Justice Nworgu’s court and do not concern INEC. They are not party to them.”
Speaking on the ruling of the Supreme Court and the further actions the party will take, he added: “Besides the Supreme Court has not given judgements, only rulings pending the substantive suit which is still at the court of appeal. It is on this basis that we know that we have the law on our side.
“I would like to add that regardless of what INEC decides, whether APC is on the ballot or not this Saturday, we will not stand aside and watch the rights of the citizens stolen twice, first in the court of law where justice is being stolen and then at the polls where ample evidence now exists to show that PDP was hell bent on intimidating the electorate with extreme violence and complete rigging.
“APC as a major stakeholder in the political framework of the nation will be at every polling unit and every collation center, following every ballot box, protecting every willing voter, securing every cast vote until the true choice of the people is respected and declared.
“If we are robbed of our right to be chosen, we certainly will not permit the people to be robbed of their right to choose. Having the President re-elected is crucial to getting our beloved nation to the Next Level. We can not afford to be distracted from our achieving that goal.”