- Ruling party arm-twisting judiciary, PDP alleges
- Vows to reverse verdict, as it threatens civil disobedience
- Oshiomhole chides opposition
- Says party’s statements reckless, inciting
The cold war between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which was sparked by this week’s ruling of the Supreme Court on the Imo State governorship election escalated on Friday after the opposition party threatened civil disobedience over ‘nation’s drift’.
The PDP vowed to use “all available constitutional means, including civil disobedience” to make the “government respect the rule of law, and desist from influencing the judiciary, INEC and our security agencies.”
It added: “We will not allow the judiciary, legislature, security agencies and other institutions of government and democracy to become departments of the APC.”
The APC denounced the PDP statement as reckless and inciting.
Party chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, appeared particularly irked by the comment of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar that the PDP should “mobilize Nigerians to resist the threat to our democracy, unity and development.”
Oshiomhole said Atiku lacks the moral right to speak about electoral manipulation in view of his antecedent in the polity.
The National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, had earlier on Thursday deplored the Supreme Court for the ruling and called for the resignation of the Chief Justice of Nigeria,Justice Tanko Mohammed.
The party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) also met on Friday to review the Imo Governorship election verdict and threatened a civil disobedience to show its displeasure.
Responding to the PDP position at a press conference in Abuja, Oshiomhole wondered why the opposition party was raising hell over an election it not win in the first instance.
He said the apex court did the right thing by accepting the votes from the 388 polling units from (the APC candidate) Hope Uzodinma’s senatorial zone which were illegally excluded by INEC officials.
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He said “Once you lie once, you will need more lies to cover the first lie. Truth be told, once they conveniently ignored these 388 polling units, they also ignored the accredited voters in those units.
“In fact, between the returning officer and INEC as well as the Judges at the tribunal and the majority of the judges at the Court of Appeal level, they excised these 388 units as if they are not part of Imo State.
“Unless they amend the constitution and redraw the map of Imo State and exclude the people that voted in these units, I believe that those judges have more questions to answer particularly.”
Oshiomhole who said he would never be party to the manipulation of any election added: “I believe that what is important to me and my party is where the truth lies. The interest of the Nigerian nation and the need to service our democracy is far more important than the interest of any political party and the interest of any governorship aspirant or candidate whether he is of the APC or PDP or any other political party.
“I believe that if there is a lesson to be learnt today that APC is in power, it is that just few years back, we were not in power. I don’t know how long we are going to be in power, but it is safe to say that we will not be in power for ever.
“Nigerians should imbibe the culture of free and fair election. Only God can predict who will always win election.
“I was baffled when, because PDP has lost a state they never won, that the Supreme Court, in its wisdom established that these 388 polling units are part of Imo State and that the votes cast there, which were never cancelled, cannot be wished away and accordingly added them and therefore found that Hope Uzodinma is not only the highest vote scorer, he had the required spread to be declared winner of that election and the Supreme Court has so declared.”
He commended the courage of the Supreme Court justices and condemned the “attempt by Secondus and the PDP to try to personalize a panel of eminent jurists in their unanimous judgement who were clear about the position of the law and these are the facts.
“For Secondus and the PDP to call for the resignation of the Chief Justice of Nigeria because they have lost a state that they never won, I want to appeal to them not to behave like the proverbial English turkey that wanted the Christmas to come a little early because on Christmas day, every English man will slaughter a turkey.
“When they make a statement such as this is a coup; this is a threat to our democracy.They behave as if they have another passport. But the rest of us who have only one passport, the green passport, this democracy has come to stay. We must contribute our own quota to deepen it by obeying the rules of the game.
“It is now a fact of history that PDP tried to deepen the culture of do or die politics. It is a fact that PDP is a beneficiary of electoral fraud year in year out and it became part of their sing song over time to rig them out and let them go to court.
“Many Nigerians of my age have not forgotten how the PDP retained the Presidency of Nigeria in an election in which the ballot papers used did not even have serial numbers and majority of the Supreme Court judges, overwhelmed by PDP machines, felt that there was nothing wrong in that.
“I am happy that even Yar’adua who was a beneficiary of that fraud, felt that something must be done to correct that.
“PDP can never, whether on ground of morality or on account of their known history, pronounce in a manner in which they did as if they are not the ones who laid foundation for all the challenges we are facing in our democracy.
“The current electoral act was not crafted by the APC government. It was crafted by the PDP government because they had the instrument of rigging and they made it such a law that it is almost impossible for anyone who has been rigged out to seek redress from the law court.
“This is why our President has committed himself to doing everything he can to ensure that, on the basis of the lessons learnt, he will clean up the system and leave us with a legacy that will ensure better elections in the future.
“I am sure that you know that, courtesy of the Supreme Court, we were not allowed to participate in any of the elections in Rivers State, except the Presidential election on the ground that our party primaries had challenges and the court nullified them. So, PDP had Rivers without any form of opposition.
“I did a press conference and said that we accepted the judgement of the Supreme Court. We said in spite of the pains in our heart, we said we would do what the court said should be done.
“In Zamfara State, the election had been held and we won all the elections and the Supreme Court in its wisdom said our primaries had challenges and therefore nullified all the elections and today, PDP has Zamfara for nothing, with no efforts at all.
“Again, because we have to be law abiding and not withstanding our reservations, we did not go to any television station to castigate the Chief Justice of Nigeria or the Supreme Court for the judgement.
“In life, you don’t always win. You win some and lose some. A matured democrat is the one that is capable of celebrating when the rules are in his favour, but must also have the courage of living with the pains of defeat. That was why with all the pain in our heart, we accepted Rivers and Zamfara.”
He accused PDP leaders of being short sighted saying, “PDP leaders are being short sighted when they frontally attack the judiciary when they lose an election and when they win, no matter how unfairly in the eyes of the ordinary people, it is democracy at work and the rule of law has prevailed.
“Review the comments of the PDP in all those states where they were declared winners, you will find them celebrating the judiciary to high heaven. But review their comments where APC has won, you will never see anyone of them where they admit that the rule of law has prevailed. This is a very dangerous attitude.
“In spite of our reservations on some of the judgements that did not favour us, we recognise that we have the responsibility to market s and try to win election.
“The Supreme Court has the responsibility to make final pronouncement if the parties involve decide to go to court.
“So we repose confidence in the Supreme Court and all judges as well as those of the Court of Appeal. This is what we are obliged to do in a democracy based on the principles of separation of power. It is not for nothing that the PDP is asking for the resignation of the Chief Justice. They tried to dictate which judges should hear their cases.”
Speaking on the former Vice President, Oshimhole said “Atiku Abubakar is on record as having manipulated INEC and judiciary to remove Abubakar Hashidu who was elected in Gombe State on ANPP platform because at the end of the election, his boss, former president Olusegun Obasanjo said Atiku had lost his base because he lost his senatorial seat, and he lost his own governorship in his own state and he lost so much in Northeast.
“Atiku, in his response, as you will remember, manipulated all institutions such that Prof. Jibril Aminu, who is already on record and I speak with authority on this because we have the newspapers, he had already congratulated the man who defeated him as Senator.
“And there are stories that between 100-110 million was expended on those who won, who had been given certificates by INEC to voluntarily return the certificates, not through the court of law. That is how Aminu returned to the Senate.
“But bad examples cannot be the basis for making progress, we are not about to copy him, but it is important that we remind Nigerians that talking about electoral fraud, talking about manipulating institutions of democracy that Atiku cannot be the advocate. He contributed his own beat to undermining democracy.
“We need to remind people of their roles in history so that when they talk, they shouldn’t talk as if Nigerians don’t have memory.
“Atiku is in print and electronic media where he said publicly that he regretted that the instruction his then boss Obasanjo gave him to ensure that Lagos was reclaimed for PDP by all means, he regretted that he didn’t carry out that ruthless rigging that would have made Lagos PDP.
“We will continue to remind Nigerians about that elaborate interview, thanks to Channels Television that Senator Mantu, then Deputy Senate President narrated himself of how Obasanjo and Atiku used to rig elections.
PDP threatens civil disobedience over ‘nation’s drift’
The PDP, in a communiqué at the end of its National Executive Committee (NEC) in Abuja on Friday threatened to call out its supporters on civil disobedience over what it described as dangerous drift in the affairs of the nation.
The party demanded an overhaul of the nation’s electoral process.
It said it has already put the necessary machinery in motion to ensure that the apex court’s ruling on the Imo governorship election is reversed.
It regretted what it described as the destruction of the nation’s democratic values, ethos and principles.
The PDP also bemoaned alleged breach of institutions of governance, particularly the 1999 constitution, and vowed to protect and defend democracy and its institutions in the country.
It added: “We reject the destruction of our democratic institutions and values, especially the independence of the legislature, the politicization of the judiciary and the compromise of our security and electoral institutions.
“We note with pains the constant abuse of the rule of law, the muzzling of the civil society and advocates of free speech as well as ordinary Nigerians.
“We totally condemn the utter desecration of judicial values, climaxing in the national embarrassment of the Supreme Court manufacturing votes and relating same to the APC and its candidate in the Imo governorship election, thereby robbing the people of the state of their mandate freely given to our candidate, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha.
“We note that this calculated injustice has made the judiciary under the CJN, Tanko Mohammed, no longer the last hope of the common man but rather the lost hope of the common man in Nigeria.
“The Supreme Court by this judicial sommersault, has eroded the faith and confidence of Nigerians in participating in elections and showcasing that there will be no need for election in the future.
“We assure Nigerians that the PDP through all available constitutional means, including civil disobedience, will insist that this government respect the rule of law, and desist from influencing the judiciary, INEC and our security agencies.
“We will not allow the judiciary, legislature, security agencies and other institutions of government and democracy to become departments of the APC”.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said the PDP ceded power to the APC in 2015, in the hope that the then opposition party would further entrench democratic development in the country.
Atiku however said it is regrettable that rather than build on the democratic structures they inherited in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC have continued to act in manners that threaten the nation’s democracy.
He said: “It is has become necessary for us to mobilize Nigerians to resist the threat to our democracy, unity and development. Therefore, I will like to propose a strong committee to review the last elections and recommend to the party needed reforms to address the challenges in the last elections be set up forthwith.
“But what cannot wait is that we should not take for granted what has been happening in our democratic processes from the role of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and the judiciary.
“If we take all these roles for granted, that will be the end of our hard earned struggle, including that of our founding members who are today not alive.
“What can we say we have done for their struggles as they lay in their graves? Therefore, as long as we are alive, it is our responsibility to reincarnate the struggle they led that brought about the democracy today that the APC government is threatening”.
Also speaking at the meeting, the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said the party had credible intelligence indicating that the Presidency and the leadership of the APC were arm-twisting the judiciary over the remaining governorship election cases pending before the Supreme Court.
Secondus listed affected states to include Sokoto, Benue, Bauchi and Adamawa where the victories of the PDP are being challenged at the apex court.
The party chairman had, on Thursday, called on the Supreme Court justices that presided over the Imo case to recuse themselves from the remaining cases.
“We know that the APC and President Buhari have taken our civility for weakness and inability to act. The Presidency has even abandoned governance amidst myriads of challenges in the land and prefers to be joining issues with us as main opposition party, a deliberate policy to divert attention from their inept leadership.
“We have made it abundantly clear that since they have chosen to make injustice law, using the highest court in the land -Supreme Court, they should be ready to embrace the consequences of their actions. This is the point we are now as the APC is using the highest court in the country to legitimize injustice.”