A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has disqualified the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Tonye Cole, due to his dual citizenship. The court further determined that the APC’s selection of Cole as the party candidate violated the Electoral Act.
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party had petitioned the court to order the Independent National Electoral Commission not to recognize Tonye Cole as the party’s candidate for governor due to his alleged dual citizenship and the fact that INEC was not present to monitor the delegate election that resulted in his selection.
In his ruling, Justice Emmanuel Obile agreed with the PDP that Tonye Cole is unable to run for governor. He then gave INEC an order to remove Tonye Cole’s name from the list of candidates who are eligible to run for governor in 2023.
However, the court’s decision runs counter to an earlier decision it made on a preliminary objection in a lawsuit brought by the APC against the PDP and its governorship candidate Siminialaye Fubara.
Justice Obile had ruled in that case that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case and that no party had the right to meddle in the internal affairs of other political parties.
Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, counsel to the PDP, Dike Udenna, expressed happiness over the judgment which he said means that APC has no governorship candidate for the 2023 General election.
On his part, counsel to the APC, Collins Dike, said the APC will challenge the judgment at the Court of Appeal. He said the constitution of Nigeria allows Cole to contest the Governorship election having been born in Nigeria.
The lawyer said Tonye Cole “voluntarily acquired the citizenship of the United Kingdom” which does not prevent him from taking part in the election.