Romanus Ugwu and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP), Uche Secondus, vice presidential candidate, Peter Obi and former Imo governor, Achike Udenwa, yesterday, led members of the party on a protest, in Abuja, against the Supreme Court judgment that ousted Emeka Ihedioha as governor of Imo State.
They took off from the PDP Presidential Campaign Headquarters, the Legacy House and marched to the Eagle Square at the Federal Secretariat, demanding the reversal of the judgment.
The protesters also included members of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC), members of the National Assembly among others.
They were escorted by security personnel compromising of police,men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps(NSCDC) and operatives of Department of State Services (DSS).
There was also heavy security presence within the Three Arms Zones, especially around the Supreme Court, where members of both the APC and PDP had converged for judgment on the Kano and Sokoto governorship disputes.
Addressing the protesters at the Eagle Square, Secondus reiterated the party’s call on the Supreme Court to reverse its judgment on the Imo governorship dispute.
“We’re a nation governed by law, therefore, all we are seeking today is for our very highly respected jurists at the highest court of the land. We’re not against you, we are against the error. And by the special grace of God, I know you will revisit the error.
“And all we are saying is that for you to review this error because the figures are not adding up. We therefore, called on the leadership of the judiciary, to please, we are all human beings. God is the highest. We know that they worship God, all of us worship God, to revisit and reverse the Imo State judgement because we believe that the figures are not adding up. That’s why we’re here so that the world will hear us.
“We are a democratic nation, and therefore, all democratic nations of the world are hearing us – United States, United Kingdom, even the United Nations, the African Union and ECOWAS. We believe that people at the highest court of the land will hear our cry today, and revisit, review, and if possible, reverse, the judgement. That is justice that will be done, not only to the people of Imo State but for Nigerians who are crying”
Similarly, Obi appealed to the APC not to kill the country’s democracy, noting that the National Chairman of the ruling party, Adams Oshiomhole, would not have been governor of Edo if the PDP had done what APC is doing today.
“I am speaking here, not just as a leader of the PDP, but one of those who benefitted from good governance of the PDP for 16 years despite being in the opposition.
“I was a minority party, I won election and PDP did not intervene…I went to court, PDP did not intervene. I benefited from it. Adams Oshiomhole wouldn’t have been governor, he wouldn’t have been beneficiary of judiciary if PDP did what APC is doing today. He benefited from it.
“So as a beneficiary, I am appealing to the judiciary to save this country. What happened in Imo State is enough to kill our democracy. Let us ensure that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man. My appeal to APC, please, do not kill this democracy.”
But the APC, in a statement Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said it found the indecorous and contemptuous actions and remarks by the leadership of the PDP worrisome.
“The disgraceful and senseless protest embarked upon by the opposition party is being done with the sole purpose of dragging the apex Court of our land, and indeed our great country into odium and scorn before the international community.
“We also view the irascible actions and irresponsible remarks by the PDP as a calculated attempt to overheat the polity. PDP has become a present threat to our peaceful coexistence.
“For the avoidance of doubt, it is important to put the issues PDP is reacting to in context. On January 14, 2020 the Supreme Court delivered a bold and very remarkable Judgment in the case involving the Governorship election of Imo State.
“Like all judicial contests, there was a winner and there was a loser. The crux of the decision was that the PDP candidate (who had been adjudged to have been wrongfully declared the winner by the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Imo State) was removed by the apex Court and Sen. Hope Uzodinma of our party was declared the rightful winner of the election.
“The Court directed the Independent National Electoral Commission to issue a Certificate of Return to Sen. Hope Uzodinma and that he should be sworn in as the Governor of Imo State. This decision by the apex Court was not made lightly but was, in fact, based on the facts presented by the Parties and the law canvassed before it by their respective Counsel.
“How else should a Court of law determine a case before it? Based on innuendos, conjecture, suspicions and conspiracy theories? Certainly not. Since then, the PDP has issued press statements and made series of wild and unsubstantiated allegations as well as casting aspersion at the Court for its decision.
“We know that the PDP will find justice served by our courts very hard to swallow because it had become accustomed to crooked manipulation of due process to its benefit and at the expense of the entire system.
“Weaning it from this bad modus operandi has proven difficult if not impossible. Every time the PDP loses in Court, it declares the decision suspect and our democracy on life support.”
Meanwhile, Imo Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, has accused the PDP of plotting to overthrow the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The governor spoke at a mega rally by the All Progressive Congress (APC) to counter the earlier protest staged by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state and other parts of the country on Sunday.
“Those women you saw yesterday (Sunday) wearing black are not playing politics , they want to overthrow the government , why are they organising rally in Bayelsa, Delta, Umuahia and other parts of the country, because they want to overthrow the government of Buhari.
“I am calling on the Federal Government to look into issues concerning the protest and caution the PDP against possible anarchy.
“I call on you to go about your businesses without any fear of harassment. My victory is divine and only God can remove me from office because I credibly won the election as has been affirmed by the highest court of our land.”
Supporters carried placards with different inscriptions, such as “Hope for Imo”, “Uzodinma we know,” and “On Supreme Court judgement we stand.”
“For the Records, APC, through no fault of ours, even as the ruling party, has suffered monumental losses in our Courts in respect of elections conducted in 2019. Let us start with Rivers State where the party was deprived an opportunity to even field any candidate.
“Never before had such an occurrence been experienced in our political history. What many do not appreciate is that the decision that led to this state of affairs was itself the first of its kind in our history since 1960.
“The Court determined that a case which, in every material particular, arose in respect of congresses which are held before elections, constituted a pre-election matter and consequently was said to have contaminated the legal ability of the party to even nominate candidates for the general election.
“As a result, the PDP, who was the sole beneficiary of this decision, had a clear run for all the elective offices in Rivers State. APC did not produce a Governorship candidate as well as candidates for the three Senatorial seats, 11 House of Representative seats and 32 State House of Assembly seats. In essence, APC lost out in 46 elective positions even before the starter pistol was fired! We took it in our stride.
“What about Zamfara State? We won every elective position in Zamfara State. However, when the Court determined that all the votes willfully given to us by the good people of Zamfara State were wasted votes (which again was the first of its kind in our electoral jurisprudence), the APC lost everything.
“In essence, we went to bed occupying all 35 elective offices in Zamfara State and woke up occupying none on account of the decision of the Court. We did not bring down the nation but accepted our loss because democracy is as much about losing as it is about winning in any election contest.
“We have just lost Sokoto State governorship to PDP on account of the judgement delivered by the Supreme Court. We should state that the judgement is completely strange to our expectation based on the facts before us.
“For the record, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwa, the current Governor of Sokoto State, is on his seat with 324 votes with over 30,000 canceled votes in the March governorship election. PDP does not see anything wrong in this, but it is comfortable with Emeka Ihedioha occupying the governorship seat in Imo State for seven months without meeting the constitutional requirement of 25 percent in two-third of the Local Government Councils in the state.
“Unlike PDP, we are not going to behave like spoilt brats and threatened the peace of the country over the surprising judgement of the Supreme Court on the Sokoto State seat.
“As our records show, APC has lost several seats in the Senate, House of Representatives and State Houses of Assembly across the country. Many have offered real confusion as the decisions departed from our knowledge of our electoral laws. Yet, we have carried ourselves with candor and dignity even in defeat.
“It is against this backdrop that we find the reckless and insensitive actions by the PDP in reaction to the Judgment of the apex Court regarding Imo State very irresponsible and indeed contemptuous. The PDP, without any scintilla or iota of fact, has alleged bribery, inducement, coercion and collusion between the Executive arm of Government and the Judiciary.
“These are very weighty allegations that can completely undermine any democracy and damage our judiciary beyond repairs. It is therefore incumbent on the PDP to provide the evidence to back these senseless allegations.
“In any democracy, no one should be allowed to inflame tempers within the polity, set the nation alight with such damaging allegations thereby threatening its peaceful coexistence and retire to his own home in peace as if he has done nothing.
“All those behind the statements issued by the PDP pouring invectives on our judiciary and leveling baseless allegations against the Executive arm of government should feel ashamed of themselves.
“The question to ask the PDP is whether the same Executive arm it accuses today were not the same ones in government when APC lost over 100 elective positions to Court decisions? Why did the same Executives not intervene to stop it and could that have even happened if indeed there was any form of collusion with the judiciary.
“The PDP must not lend its platform to conspiracy theorists, propagandists and rumour peddlers if it wants to be taken seriously as a partner in our democratic experience. It must accept the role of a responsible opposition or face the wrath of Nigerians who cherish their hard-earned democracy and will do all to defend it,” the PDP said.