The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had faulted the Supreme Court over the pronouncement of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hope Uzodinma, as the winner of the 2019 governorship election in Imo state. In this report ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYAU queries whether the party’s posture will change following Thursday ruling in favour of the party’s candidate in the Bayelsa governorship.
Since the return to democratic rule in 1999 no political party has benefited from the judiciary like the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as an institution and members of the party. However, in recent times, the party which had been in power at the federal level for 16 uninterrupted years has been kicking against rulings of the apex court perceived to be unfavourable to the party.
Significantly, the Supreme Court judgement which upheld the victory of the candidate of the All Progressives Party (APC) in the 2019 presidential election, President Muhammadu Buhari, thereby dismissing the case filed by the candidate of the PDP, Vice President Atiku Abubakar, drew the fault lines between PDP and the judiciary.
The Supreme Court’s sacking of the Governor of Imo state, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP, who had been declared the winner of the 2019 governorship election and whose mandate was upheld at the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, and pronouncement of Senator Hope Uzodimma of the APC as winner of the governorship election was like the final straw the broke the Carmel’s back.
PDP rejects Imo ruling
PDP faithful had gone to town with cries of judicial misconduct as they faulted the Supreme Court judgement on Imo state on several grounds.
Interestingly, PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, queried: “Does the Supreme Court have powers to formulate and allocate votes as election results? Were the said results certified by INEC as required by law? Did Hope Uzodinma call 388 witnesses from the 388 polling units to speak to the results to obviate the principle of dumping which the Supreme Court used against the PDP and her candidate, Atiku Abubakae, in the last Presidential Appeal.
“Were the presiding officers and or party agents of the 388 polling units called to testify by Uzodinma/APC, who were the petitioners? What are the figures from each of the various 388 polling units generated and allocated to Hope Uzodinma/APC by the Supreme Court?
“Is there any law, which permits the Supreme Court or anyone else for that matter, to unilaterally increase the total accredited votes by any margin after the accreditation and or the election? Where did the Supreme Court get the numbers to declare Uzodinma/APC from a paltry 96,456 votes over Ihedioha/PDP votes of 276,404.
“Even if all the excess accredited votes of 127,209 manufactured by the Supreme Court were added to Uzodinma/APC it will be 223,657 votes, still less than Ihedioha’s votes of 276,494 by 42,747 votes. The fact is that, the Supreme Court, as presently constituted under Justice Tanko, has lost its credibility and no longer commands the respect and confidence of Nigerians.”
The Supreme Court judgement on Imo governorship polls was also welcomed with protests against the Supreme Court in Imo state and Abuja, even as Civil Society Organsations (CSOs) have also held media briefing expressing reservation on the judgement calling for a review.
Party alleges Court’s been annexed by executive
Recently, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan stated that “The Supreme Court, as presently constituted under Justice Mohammed Tanko, has become heavily compromised; lost its credibility and was now annexed to execute “ignoble agenda” of the APC-led federal government against the Nigerian people.
Will Bayelsa restore party’s confidence?
However, in an unexpected turn of events, while the APC governorship candidate in the November 16, 2019, election in Bayelsa state, David Lyon, whose victory had been upheld by the Supreme Court, was rehearsing alongside his deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo, for swearing in the Supreme Court, Thursday, directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of eeturn issued to him.
A five-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili ordered the INEC to issue fresh certificate of return to the candidate of the party with the next highest votes and with the required constitutional spread of votes, which is the PDP.
Justice Ejembi Ekwo, who read the lead judgment made the orders after disqualifying the APC’s deputy governorship candidate, Degi-Eremienyo, as a candidate in the election.
The court upheld the November 12, 2019, judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which had disqualified Degi-Eremienyo for submitting forged certificates to INEC.
The Federal High Court had ruled that the deputy governor’s disqualification had infected the joint ticket with which Degi-Eremienyo and the governorship candidate ran for and won November 16 election.
The five-man panel further held that on the basis that both candidates and their party, the APC ought to have abstained from participating in the election.
We’ll continue to ask question, PDP insists
Expectedly, the PDP which had kicked against the Supreme Court judgement in Imo state governorship election and lambasted the judiciary, made U-turn following the court’s ruling on the Bayelsa governorship election which favoured the part and its candidate.
According to the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, the party would continue to ask questions when the judgment is not on point of law.
The national chairman in an interview with Blueprint Weekend that, “We believe in the rule of law and our matters are very clear. If it on point of law, no argument, no protest, if it is not point of law, we will ask question.”
He continued, “We don’t just make protests or argue or issue statements on ordinary ground. If we have ground, we will ask and on this matter in Bayelsa state, it was on point of law and the rule of law has taken place.
“We believe that our nation is in disarray, our nation is in distress but with the calibre of the governor-elect and the deputy governor-elect, we will begin to heal the wound, we will begin to rebuild this nation and bring everyone together.
“The PDP stands for the unity of our country, the PDP stands for all-inclusiveness, the PDP stand for justice for all, the PDP stand for the future of the young generation of our country.”
It’s about winning for politicians – Analyst
For Ibrahim Muhammed, a political analyst, politicians celebrate when it favours them and kick against any court judgement that is against them.
He said in a phone interview with Blueprint Weekend, “Politicians are the same; they celebrate when courts judgment favours them. But when it’s against them and their party they reject it in protest and media propaganda.
“They are not concern about the merit of any judgment either from Appeal Court, Supreme Court or any other court in Nigeria, their concern is just their interest, not even that of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“This was why APC celebrated Supreme Court’s ruling on Imo state but rejected the apex court’s ruling on Bayelsa state. Similarly, the PDP is celebrating Supreme Court’s ruling on Bayelsa state but protesting against Supreme Court’s judgement on Imo state. This is known habit of most Nigerian politicians and this will continue for years to come,” he added.
Judicial mandates shouldn’t replace electoral mandates
On his part, a legal practitioner, Jiti Ogunye cautioned that judicial mandates shouldn’t be replacements for electoral mandates secured from the ballot box.
Ogunye who reacted through his Face book page stated, “We insist that in the final analysis, the polling decisions of courts can never be credible substitutes for outcomes of free and fair elections. Judicial mandates shouldn’t be replacements for electoral mandates secured from the ballot box: Osun, Zamfara, Rivers, Imo and Bayelsa states.”