Gbade Ogunwale/Tony Akowe,Abuja
THE stand- off between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the Supreme Court ruling on the last Imo State governorship election does not seem to be abating yet.
Governors elected on the platform of the APC on Saturday joined the fray, accusing PDP leaders of calling for anarchy in the country because the judgement did not go in favour of their party while the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr.Kola Ologbondiyan claimed that the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, had launched a desperate bid to divert public attention from the ‘perversion of justice’ by the apex court in favour of the ruling party.
Mr. Emeka Ihedioha, whose election as governor was voided by the court, also spoke on Saturday. He said that the Supreme Court judgement has put the judiciary and the electoral system on trial.
The APC governors in a statement by their chairman, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State described the comments of PDP leaders of the Supreme Court verdict as contemptuous and disrespectful to the nation’s democracy.
It is unfortunate, according to Bagudu, that those who are supposed to defend the judiciary are the same people disparaging them because the judgement on the Imo election did not go in their favour.
He said: “Following the verdict of the Supreme Court in respect of Imo State election petition, which declared Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress as the winner of the March 9, 2019 Governorship election, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) proclaimed the judgement as “miscarriage of justice” and alleged that the judiciary is “heavily compromised” and has “lost credibility”.
“These are depressing allegations coming from supposedly democratic leaders who should ordinarily be in the forefront of protecting and defending the judicial institution as the sanctuary of our democracy. It is contemptuous and disrespectful to our democracy.
“This is most unfortunate and condemnable. We call on Nigerians and all lovers of democracy in the country to rise to the defence of our democratic institutions, especially the judiciary.
“We must prevail on the PDP leadership and all politicians to exercise restraint by demonstrating unalloyed loyalty and respect for our democratic institutions, particularly our judiciary, which is the most important pillar of democratic governance.
“To allege that a judgement delivered by Supreme Court Judges is “procured” simply because it does not favour the PDP is an invitation to anarchy.
“It is on record that President Muhammadu Buhari has at all times stated his commitment to democracy and rule of law. Our party has lost elections we thought we would win. Equally, our party has been stopped from participation in elections by the judiciary, for example in Rivers State.
“The case of Zamfara where we won the election but the Supreme Court in its wisdom nullified all our votes and declared PDP candidates as winners is another experience. In addition, our party members have lost many cases, and even though our views differ from the judgement delivered, we do not disparage the judiciary, yet our views of the judgement differ from the court.
“As Progressive Governors, we hereby declare abiding faith in our judiciary and will at all times respect all decisions of our Judges at all levels no matter the circumstances. Our party and our members believe in the sanctity of our judicial institution as the last hope for justice for our people.
“We wish to unequivocally state our resolve to work with all democrats in the country to ensure adequate protection of democratic governance by respecting all judgements from our courts”.
‘Stop politicising injustice,’ PDP tells Oshiomhole
In a statement of its own on Saturday the PDP wondered why the APC national chairman resorted to insults in his desperate bid to divert public attention from the “perversion of justice” by the Supreme Court in favour of the APC.
Spokesman for the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said:”The PDP is aware of why Oshiomhole has suddenly become the mouth piece of the Supreme Court.
“We have reliable information that certain Justices of the Court have been blaming APC leaders and the Presidency for compromising and dragging them into the disgraceful plots; the reason Oshiomhole now desperately seeks to politicize the issue and divert public attention as a stop gap measure.
“This attempt is indeed dead on arrival as the PDP, standing with the generality of Nigerians and lovers of democracy all over the world, will not relent in mobilizing the citizens in pursuit of an end to this and many other injustices that pervade our nation presently.
“Of course, Oshiomhole and Justice Tanko Mohammed are reminded that, as stated by Thomas Jefferson, ‘when injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.’
The party vowed that nothing could stop over 180 million Nigerians from speaking out against injustice, particularly at the Supreme Court, as injustice to one is injustice to all.
Continuing, the party said: “Nigerians can recall that since Oshiomhole found his way as National Chairman of APC, he has contributed nothing to the development of politics and democracy, except promoting injustice, encouraging looting, fuelling crisis and violence, elevating thuggery as a talent and fouling our public space with gutter language, hate speech, meddling and quarrelling.
“We are not surprised because his former lieutenants have told the world that thuggery is his area of strength in politics.
“However, we counsel Oshiomhole to learn that politics is about respect for the rule of law and good governance. It is different from thuggery and quarreling, which he has now become notorious for.
“Indeed, the PDP agrees no less with the description already in the public, that the minds of certain individuals are as their outward looks.”
The PDP said it would not be deterred but will remain focus with the generality of Nigerians in its irrevocable determination to take all steps necessary to reverse the ‘injustice’ on Imo, and stop the APC on its trail to use the Supreme Court to take over states lawfully won by the PDP.
Judiciary, electoral system on trial, says Ihedioha
The sacked governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha, said yesterday that the nation’s judiciary and the electoral system are on trial on account of the Supreme Court verdict on his case.
Speaking at an interactive session with journalists at his private residence in Abuja, Ihedioha said the judgement still remained a mystery to the people of Imo state and Nigerians in general.
“We are as shocked as yourselves, it was never anticipated.
“All legal pundits and democracy watchers never imagined and anticipated it. So for us, it remains a mystery.
“I believe that that event will define our democracy. I am certain that the judiciary and the electoral system are well aware that they are on trial.
“And what is fundamental about this is that the fact of the matter, as relates to the Imo state governorship election, is that the foundation of our democratic processes, the elections in Imo were closely monitored, well advertised and everybody in Nigeria followed it through.
“The results were very clear;the electoral umpire still has the results.And INEC has stated clearly that the results in question and the figures are not summing up.”
Ihedioha maintained that what happened in the Imo case was not about him or the state. Rather, it is about the future the country and democracy.
“It’s about what do we do tomorrow. Do you go into an electoral process without having an idea; It has to be resolved one way or the other.
“I am calm and we are calm, and that is why you see in Imo, there is calmness. The calmness is coming out of shock, it is a comic relief.
“It is coming out of the fact that people are saying let us still see, can this be possible! We are waiting for answers and I believe there will be answers.”
Stating that the case has made history in many ways, he said he was awaiting historical answers at the end of the day.
He assured that he would remain resolute and committed to the ideals of the PDP, adding that the event will not put into question his faith in the Nigerian nation.
“It will not question our commitment to democracy, it will rather strengthen our resolve to march forward and make Nigeria a greater nation.
“And I am certain that from the events of that day, Nigeria will emerge a stronger and greater country. I want to urge you to continue to work with all lovers of democracy across board so that we can all put our heads together and match forward”, he said.
Ihedioha urged his political opponents not to celebrate, saying, “I pity anyone who is celebrating that sad event”.
Continuing, he said:”If anyone is celebrating, that person is not a student of democracy. Our fore fathers worked so hard to get us to where we are, and that is indisputable.
“So at a time like this, what are we bequeathing to the future generation? Our children are asking questions that have not yet been answered and the facts speak for themselves.
“I hope they will be addressed. It is a redefining moment, it is a time for sober reflection because to my own understanding of lawmaking, it is about precedence, it is about reference, and so we need to be guided on how to move forward.
“I remain strong in faith in our country, strong in faith in our democracy, and strong in faith that the institutions of our democracy will always remain strong and guided that our actions of today will define the events of tomorrow”.
Also speaking, the national chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, who was present at the session, said the party was still grieving over the loss.
Secondus said what happened at the Supreme Court goes beyond politics or elections.
He said that the PDP would not be joining issues with those that have deliberately and knowingly undermined the nation’s democracy.
According to him, the world has moved away from politics of bitterness, rancour and bad blood.
Secondus said: “All over the world, people are moving from one stage to the other. We are convinced in our hearts that the truth and only the truth can save this nation.
“Some people believe that every issue should be trivialised, so when we speak, you hear them coming against it without calming down to look at the depth of out statements; to see whether there are merits or no merits. We are a nation governed by laws.
“When we find ourselves in this situation, we must ask questions and we are a nation among all the other nations of the world and under one God. And a time comes that a people must speak the truth and everything is not about politics.
“In the case of Imo state, we have more questions than answers because we can’t see the figures adding up. These are the questions agitating our minds and the minds of Nigerians.
“I want to appeal to our brothers who are on the other side, they should stop trivialising these issues. They are of fundamental importance in nature”.
The party chairman cautioned those who are comparing the Imo case to the apex court’s judgements on Rivers and Zamfara states.
“You cannot compare what happened in those states with Imo. Those ones are intra party matters. Let them come out and tell us what really happened, from the Tribunal, to the Appeal court up to the Supreme Court in the 388 polling units.
“What we seek in the case of Imo is for the Supreme Court to review and I believe that God will touch them to review it and they will reverse it in the interest of our nation so that we don’t celebrate the situation we found ourselves in.
“Very eminent people are not speaking out; today it is at the door of Imo, tomorrow it will be at the door of another person, so people must speak out.
“The truth is what we are seeking. What we are saying is that the figures are not adding up. Can they look into it again?”
In a unanimous judgment by a seven-man panel of justices, the apex court nullified Ihedioha’s election and affirmed Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the poll.