APC dumps Tonye Cole, withdraws petition from Rivers governorship election tribunal
The All Progressive Congress (APC) in Rivers State may have dumped the party’s candidate in the 2023 governorship election at the tribunal, Tonye Cole, and subtly withdrew the suit challenging the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate.
It was gathered that the withdrawal of the counsel to the Rivers State APC from the suit made the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal struck out the petition filed by the party.
Accordingly, the withdrawal made the APC governorship candidate, Tonye Cole, the sole petitioner challenging the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and the victory of the PDP and its candidate, Fubara Siminalayi, in the March 18 governorship election in Rivers State.
The APC was said to have filed an application for change of counsel in their petition challenging the victory of the PDP and its candidate in the March election.
The counsel to the APC, Solomon Umoh, had notified the Election Petition Tribunal that he has become counsel to the APC after a motion for change of counsel before the tribunal. Umoh further informed the tribunal that his clients want their names struck out from the petition as applicants.
However, Jibrin Okutepa, counsel for both Cole and the APC, argued before the Tribunal that he had no brief on the APC turn of event.
The Tribunal, comprising of three judges, led by Justice Cletus Emifoniye, granted the application for change of counsel, and further granted the motion to strike out the name of APC as a petitioner, as requested.
It was noted that the APC withdrew from the petition pursuant to order 9 rule 15 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2019. It was further noted that one of the grounds for the application amongst others is that “there is the need to seek the leave of this Honourable Tribunal to strike out the name of the 2nd petitioner/applicant, as the applicant has no intention to participate in this petition.”
The Tribunal is yet to commence pre-hearing of applications.
Meanwhile, APC leaders in Rivers State did not give reasons for withdrawing the party’s petition or dumping the governorship candidate at the election petition tribunal.