- Your gloating won’t last, opposition party replies
Chuks Okocha and Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, Thursday taunted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate in the 2019 general election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, for losing their bid to challenge the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the election.
The duo urged them to apologise to Nigerians for challenging the president’s declaration as the winner of the election, adding that Buhari will win the former vice president even at the World Court or the Supreme Court.
But the PDP, which has signified its intention to appeal the judgment of the tribunal, which rejected its petition to nullify Buhari’s election, at the Supreme Court, fired back, saying their triumphalism would be transient.
Mohammed called on Atiku and the PDP to apologise for deliberately distracting the Buhari administration with what he described as a frivolous election petition.
In a statement yesterday from St. Petersburg, Russia, Mohammed acknowledged that while the PDP and its candidate reserved the right to pursue their petition to the highest level, “they will be better served by dropping their toga of desperation and realising that there is a limit to tomfoolery.”
“Nigerians are tired of this orchestrated distraction, and will rather wish that the opposition, having lost at the polls and in court, will now join hands with the government to move Nigeria to the next level.
“This is more so that the judgment validating the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari was unanimous that the petition lacked merit, that the petitioners failed to prove any of the grounds upon which their case was anchored and that President Buhari is eminently qualified to contest the poll,” he added.
According to him, instead of casting aspersion on the judiciary with their poorly-framed reaction to the ruling of the tribunal, the PDP and its candidate should be thanking their stars that they are not being prosecuted for coming to court with fraudulently-obtained evidence.
“It is intriguing that a party that trumpets the rule of law at every turn will present, in open court, evidence it claimed to have obtained by hacking into a supposed INEC server.
“Don’t they realise this is a criminal act for which they are liable? Instead of threatening to head to the Supreme Court, driven more by ego than commonsense, they should be sorry for allowing desperation to overwhelm their sense of reasoning. Enough is enough,” Mohammed stated.
He commended the tribunal for not only doing justice to the case but for explaining, in painstaking details that lasted hours, how it arrived at its judgment.
”We also thank Nigerians who voted massively to re-elect President Buhari for their continued support,” he said.
On his part, Oshiomhole yesterday said Buhari and the APC would defeat the PDP and Atiku should they go to the Supreme Court, and if possible, the World Court, to challenge the ruling of the tribunal.
Oshiomhole spoke with State House correspondents when he accompanied APC women leaders from the national, zonal and 36 states of the federation to meet with Buhari.
Oshiomhole was optimistic that no surprise would come out from the Supreme Court as they are most likely to rely on the Court of Appeal’s ruling.
He said: “We as a party we are confident that if it is within the Nigerian law for PDP to go even to the World Court, we will meet them there. The Supreme Court of Nigeria is not that of PDP or the APC, the Supreme Court is governed by law and is to interpret the evidence before the Court of Appeal.
“They are not at liberty to introduce new issues neither can they bring in new witnesses.
“So, if it is what I heard Thursday which I believe you also heard, thanks to the media, most Nigerians were detained for eight hours listening to arguments of the judges one after the other. Even though we thought it was getting longer and longer, but we realised that they tried to deal with the issues raised, even the ones you and I as a layman will consider inconsequential, they dealt with each of them, trashed them and arrived at a conclusion.
“So, I don’t want to sound arrogant. Yesterday (Wednesday), I said that I hope this whole contestation is about Nigeria who actually won the election and both parties are committed to building Nigeria and is not about who should be given the key.
“Now, this has been resolved and it is time to queue behind the winner and move on. Our winner is the best example that losing election is not tantamount to the end of your political life. He lost three and today he is the president.
“But, when I see the arrogance with which they pronounce and they bring what I call television lawyers, who pronounced with some magestirial finality as if they are judges even without any evidence before them, let me now say authoritatively, we are now ready to meet them.
“President Buhari is now ready to meet defeated Atiku Abubakar at the Supreme Court and the APC is ready to meet the PDP at the Supreme Court and Adams Oshiomhole is ready to meet my brother, Secondus, at the Supreme Court and he will take second and I will take first.”
Your Gloating Will Be Short-lived, PDP Replies
But in a swift response, the PDP urged Mohammed to be cautious in celebrating the judgment of the tribunal, as his gloating will be short-lived.
The main opposition party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the judgment, which it described as a direct miscarriage of justice, could not stand at the Supreme Court, given the weight of evidence against Buhari and the APC.
The PDP added that those celebrating what it described as an “attempt to corrupt the justice system as well as the brazen approval of a clear case of perjury” are telling Nigerians something about their conscience and character.
It said: “Our party is not surprised that Lai Mohammed, speaking for the Buhari’s administration, came short of calling for the arrest and prosecution of opposition members for coming before the Appeal Court, adding that this exposed their belief that they own the court and can determine the position of the judiciary on any matter.
“Notwithstanding, the PDP holds that Nigerians have seen the ‘several errors’ in the judgment delivered by the Appeal Court and have turned the verdict to a butt of jokes in public space.
“We invite Lai Mohammed to tell Nigerians if his law degree was awarded to him on the basis of a sworn affidavit and pictures of his classmates; or was his Call to Bar at the Nigerian Law School also based on presentation of pictures and affidavit?”
According to the PDP, the unguarded outburst of the minister has heightened apprehension among Nigerians about recurrent manipulations of process by the APC and the Buhari’s presidency.
PDP added that it stands with Nigerians and was heading to the Supreme Court to uphold justice in the matter and salvage the country from the drift towards impunity, anarchy and lawlessness.