• APC: Opposition party should get serious
• Only election petition tribunal can overturn the poll, say legal experts
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has raised the alarm over an alleged fresh plot by the All Progressives Congress (APC), working with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN, to cause constitutional crisis in Rivers State by moving to annul the governorship election recently won by its candidate, Chief Nyesom Wike.
The main opposition party said it has been informed of how some APC leaders have been mounting pressure on the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, to influence the reversal of February 12, 2019 final judgment of the Supreme Court, which upheld the verdict of the trial court that excluded the APC from participating in the National Assembly, governorship and state assembly elections in Rivers State, having nullified the party’s primaries in the state.
But the APC responded last night, saying the PDP’s allegation was an attention seeking effort to remain relevant after its defeat at the recently concluded presidential election.
Addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, recalled that in nullifying the APC primaries and barring it from fielding any candidates in Rivers State for the general election, the High Court held, and rightly too, that APCs’ primaries in the state were invalid and could not be considered.
The party stressed that acting upon the final judgment of the Supreme Court, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on February 23, 2019 held the Presidential and National Assembly elections and on March 9, 2019 conducted the governorship and state House of Assembly elections in Rivers State, in which the APC, having been lawfully excluded, did not participate.
The party added that having been frustrated by its lawful exclusion, the APC adopted the governorship candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), bankrolled his election and made compromised security agents and thugs available to him, with the view to using them to muscle votes.
It stated: “However, not done with the desperation to cause confusion and crisis in Rivers State, the leader of the APC in the state has engaged in fresh conspiracies to subvert the will of the people as expressed at the polls.”
The PDP alleged that a leader of the APC in the state had been boasting that he had the ears of the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, and that the Supreme Court will reverse its final judgment on APC Primaries and create the way for fresh elections in Rivers State, in which the APC will be allowed to participate.
“If this is allowed to occur, it will also amount to the highest travesty of justice, apart from being a direct abuse of court process. The Supreme Court is the highest temple of justice in our country and as such must protect itself from all forms of manipulative tendencies of the APC,” the party said.
It said that in spite of these conspiracies by the APC, the will of the people of Rivers State prevailed, as they braved the odds, resisted all machinations and voted overwhelmingly for the PDP and all its candidates.
The PDP, therefore, urged the acting CJN not to allow his office to be used by desperate power mongers in the APC to cause anarchy and perpetrate more violence in Rivers State.
He said people of Rivers State have experienced so much crisis, bloodletting, harassment and intimidations from the APC in its desperation to forcefully take over the state.
But in a response by the APC, its National Publicity Secretary, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said the PDP needed to accept the reality of its loss of the presidential election and stop seeking attention with outlandish allegations.
“The APC did not contest the state elections in Rivers State, why would we be interested in its outcome,” he said, adding: “We cannot continue to respond to a party that has been defeated in a transparent election. We have a government to run and the PDP should accept its defeat in good faith.”
Issa-Onilu said in any case, if the law allows the Supreme Court to reverse itself if it so finds, why would the PDP be raising dust.
“The problem with the PDP is that it does not accept reality. When it favours it, it accept the system as perfect; but when it goes against it, it condemns the same system. So, everything must go its way? No, society does not run that way,” he said.
Meanwhile, legal experts told THISDAY last night that the PDP allegation is far-fetched because the election having held, complaints on it could only be treated by the election petition tribunal.
“The law is clear that once an election had been held, the only judicial authority that can entertain complaint on the process is the election petition tribunal,” a senior advocate of Nigeria, who preferred anonymity said.
Another silk who did not want to be quoted also explained: “At best, the complaint of the APC would be that it had been excluded from the process. That process is an election that has been held. The appropriate place to complain is the tribunal not the regular court.”