The stories making the rounds since last night of the withdrawal of the petition by Arc. Tonye Patrick Cole, Mni, 2023 governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State, by Sahara Reporters and other mainstream media houses refers.
For the avoidance of doubt, the true and factual position of the status of that petition are as follows:
- Tonye Cole as the 1st Petitioner on record is still before the Court.
- The All Progressives Congress as the 2nd Petitioner on record withdrew yesterday through her legal representative, Solomon Umoh, Esq.
- The withdrawal of the 2nd Petitioner yesterday follows the objection by the local Chapter of the party to being led at the Tribunal by Henry A. Bello, Esq of Counsel.
- The facts forming the grounds for the aforementioned objection bother on trust and are not unconnected with the concomitant effect of the decision of the High Court of Rivers State in the case of Ibrahim Umah & Ors v. APC in 2018 on the party’s fortunes at the 2019 general elections.
It is an error of judgment therefore for Sahara Reporters, or any other medium, to present yesterday’s development with such slant that misleads the public to the conclusion that the petition challenging the declaration by INEC of the winner of the Rivers 2023 governorship election has been withdrawn. For emphasis sake, the party’s right to withdraw does not sound a death knell to the petition by Tonye Cole who is now the Sole Petitioner.
Regardless of yesterday’s development, a diligent reading of Section 133 of the Electoral Act 2022 in conjunction with Sections 29 and 33 to the First Schedule thereto clarifies the status of Arc. Tonye Cole’s petition challenging the declaration of Siminalayi Fubara of the People’s Democratic Party as Governor-elect.
The general public and Rivers people are put on notice hereby that we are still before the Tribunal and the legal status of both Tonye Cole and the petition sound enough.
Sogbeye C. Eli
Spokesman, Rivers APC 2023 Campaign Council
May 23, 2023.