Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are threatening to stop with a court’s order President Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration until the determination of the petition challenging the President’s victory in the February 23 election.
The Presidency has dismissed the threat as “unserious” and dared the PDP to launch its legal battle.
The main opposition party was reacting yesterday to the plethora of court cases filed against the announcement of results of the March 9 governorship and state Assembly elections in Bauchi and Rivers states by candidates of the President’s party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Governor Mohammed Abubakar (APC) of Bauchi State has obtained an ex parte order at the Federal High Court stopping the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from concluding the governorship election.
A similar court case was filed by the governorship candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) in Rivers State, Mr Awara Biokpomabo, seeking an order of the court to stop INEC from releasing the results of the governorship election in the state.
But the PDP, which believes that its candidate, Governor Nyesom Wike, won the election, alleged that the case filed by the AAC and its candidate was instigated by the APC.
The PDP has filed a petition with the National judicial Council (NJC) against Justice Ekwo Inyang who granted the Bauchi governor the order, inciting a violation of the Constitution and Section 87(10) of the Electoral Act.
The said provision of the Electoral Act prescribes that no court has the power or jurisdiction to stop any election pending the determination of a suit.
The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, who decried the action of the petitioners, expressed concerns over hiccups in the conduct of the 2019 general elections.
The party, at an emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Abuja yesterday, complained about the inability of INEC to conclude the elections in record time.
The PDP chieftains were particularly miffed that almost two weeks after, INEC could not conclude the governorship and state assembly elections that were held on March 9.
Winners of the governorship elections are yet to be declared in seven states where the polls were “inconclusive”. The states are: Kano, Sokoto, Benue, Plateau, Adamawa and Bauchi states. The concluding part of the elections are billed to hold in the states on Saturday.
The governorship election in Rivers state has become a subject of legal rigmarole by interested parties following the suspension of the announcement of the results.
Also of grave concern to the main opposition party is what it called the militarisation of the elections in many states in the Southsouth.
Secondus who presided over the meeting, called on the military not to allow themselves be called out again for what he described as illegal duties.
He enjoined the military and other security agencies to resist any attempt to be dragged into paying manipulative roles in Saturday’s supplementary elections.
According to him, “inconclusive” is a rigging strategy introduced by the INEC to aide the APC and its candidates.
He expressed optimism that PDP candidates will emerge victorious in the upcoming supplementary elections in five of the six states that the election will take place.
Secondus said that posterity will hold the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, responsible for the consequences of all his actions.
He said: “The way they are going about getting court injunctions stop elections that have already been held, if we also go to court to stop inauguration of elected officers, it will disrupt the democratic process.
“If INEC has to give people the opportunity to go to court, we too can go to court and stop the swearing in ceremony, be it the President or other (APC) governors”.
Senate President Bukola Saraki said the result of the presidential and state elections reflected the strength and character of the PDP and urged members to build on the foundation.
Saraki said the victory of the APC in the presidential and state elections will be short lived, adding: “We have a great future ahead and I believe we will start that on Saturday to make sure that we defend those five states that are declared inconclusive.
“If anybody believes that it is a loss to PDP, it is a loss to the country that history will not forgive. We said it many times here, that the worst to do is to do an election that our country, Nigeria will not be proud of.
“We have done an election that no doubt anybody and even those that think they have won are ashamed of the kind of election that we did.
“I think it is a shame to the country and to those that were given that responsibility to do. They have Saturday as their last opportunity to try as much as possible to reclaim part of their embarrassment to the country.”
“How can a country like Nigeria have this type of election? Ghana has done it, Congo and Zimbabwe have done elections. And we say we do elections, with seven inconclusive. We did elections in 2015, we did it in 2011 and 1999 and after so many years, this is what we can produce.
“It is not a loss to the PDP; it is to the country. It just showed the level of desperation. I have confidence that this will be shortlived and, as such, let us ensure on Saturday that these fives states that are ours remain within the PDP and INEC should, for once, do what is right,” Saraki said.
Also speaking at the meeting, House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara said: “Elections are done all over the world, elections are conducted in Africa and at no time have we heard of this inconclusive elections in other jurisdictions. Ghana elections were held not long ago.
“It will be very unfortunate if INEC, which is led by a first class Professor, set this very dangerous and unacceptable precedent in our political history. That I want them to take note of.
“And also what has happened is pure evil; our consolation as members of this party is that evil does not last and no evil doer has ever escaped punishment.
“If they do what others have done before, they will see what those who did evil saw. Definitely they cannot escape from it. It’s a law of nature and in the scriptures of God, that whatever you sow so you shall reap.
“This is also for those who believe in power for the sake of power, not because they want to empower people, not because they want to better the lives of our people.
“There is also lessons they can learn from history. History is now replete with examples of all those who pursued power for the sake of power. Their lives have always ended in tragedy that awaits anyone who seeks power for the sake of power. We have seen that display in Nigeria.
“For us as members of this party, I don’t want us to despair, even though we have inconclusive elections in some states. In five of those states, PDP clearly won the election in those states.”
The PDP vice presidential candidate in the February 23 election, Mr Peter Obi, said besides blaming the INEC and the security agencies, the biggest shame goes to those who are directing them to do the wrong thing.
Obi said: “If you choose to be a leader, especially with APC that claims integrity, the biggest corruption and the biggest show of a government that does not believe in integrity is to rig election. Because the process through which you come into office, is far more fundamental than what you do there after.
“I think we should hold them responsible for what is happening in this country now. The examples we are setting for the young ones, I don’t know what they will tell a young man who is cheating in an examination in this country after seeing the ways our elections are conducted.
“I don’t know what they will tell those who are robbing banks and kidnapping people, because we have seen the biggest of it by this election where people are happy after robbing the nation and their states.
“The chairman said we will do a post mortem after the election. I thank the party, because it is the party that is going to court, not just the presidential candidate going to court to challenge this rascality.
“I, as a person, have always believed that the biggest enemy of freedom or progress are happy slaves. And thank God that this party has chosen this path, and we will all stand by it.”
The Presidency said the threat by the opposition party to block May 29 was not suprising.
It said: “From the day they lost the presidential elections by a margin of four million votes, the biggest margin of defeat by anyone in the Fourth Republic, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has embarked on a plan to erode the credibility of the internationally acclaimed election and erode the authority of this country’s elected government under President Muhammadu Buhari.
“So much has been said and written about their so-called Dubai Plan or blueprint, designed to win at all cost or paralyse the elected government.
“The opposition party is doing everything to backslide Nigeria’s democracy and this country’s judiciary, bureaucracy and civil society should not allow them to do so.
“The PDP has no right to give sermons about democracy, given their dismal and shameful track record during their 16-year tenure.
Also reacting, the Director of Media and Publicity of the Muhammadu Buhari Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo (SAN), dared the opposition party to go ahead with its plan.
He said: We challenge them to go to court. Buhari is the sitting president. He will continue in office till when they want him to be sworn-in. Let them go to court. We shall meet there.”