Rivers APC gov candidate disqualified over dual citizenship

Rivers APC gov candidate disqualified over dual citizenship

A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has disqualified the Rivers State Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Tonye Cole, over dual citizenship.

The state Peoples Democratic Party had approached the court to direct the Independent National Electoral Commission not to recognise Cole as the governorship candidate of APC for alleged dual citizenship.

The PDP also said the delegate election that brought him did not follow due process.

The trial judge, Justice, Emmanuel Obile, in his judgment, agreed with the PDP that Cole, who had dual citizenship, was not eligible to contest the governorship position and that the APC primary that brought him in was not monitored by INEC.

Contrary to the preliminary objection of the APC and the governorship candidate that no court had the right to interfere in another party’s affairs, Justice Obile in the judgment held that the court had jurisdiction to hear the matter.

He, therefore, directed INEC to delist Cole from the electoral list for the 2023 general elections.

Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, counsel for the APC, Collins Dike, said the party would appeal the judgment.

Dike said, “First, to say that the judgement has been given, in law, we abide by it. However, we are disappointed and we are sure we are going to test it at the Court of Appeal.

“Our constitution is very clear that where a person is a citizen of Nigeria by birth and goes on to acquire the citizenship of any other country or pledges allegiance to any other country, he is qualified to contest elections.

“Tonye Cole acquired citizenship of the United Kingdom; he stated so in his forms before INEC. But it is also clear that he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth.

“So, the court read that very clearly from the constitution and proceeded to disqualify him contrary to the provisions of the constitution.”

Counsel for the PDP, Dike Udenna, said with the judgment, the APC and its candidate were not eligible to participate in the election.

Meanwhile, the state APC Publicity Secretary, Darlington Nwauju, in a brief statement said the judgment was meant to satisfy the PDP in the state.

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