- Secondus: PDP not under any threat of implosion
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general election, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, has concluded plans to file an appeal tomorrow challenging the outcome of the Presidential Elections Petitions Tribunal (PEPT).
THISDAY gathered that ahead of Wednesday’s deadline for an appeal against the tribunal’s judgement, Atiku had put together 70 points as grounds for the appeal, which he plans to turn in tomorrow.
Meanwhile, The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Uche Secondus, has said the party faced no threat of implosion despite losing power to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015.
In an interview with THISDAY, Secondus said contrary to insinuations doing the rounds, the party has continued to wax stronger following the failures of the ruling APC to address the needs to the people, adding that more Nigerians now believed that it would take only the PDP to rescue them.
The PEPT judgement was delivered on September 11 and Atiku, as the appellant, had 14 days to file an appeal. By this calculation, the deadline for the filling of an appeal is Wednesday, September 25, while the petition has a lifespan of 60 days within which the appeal must be determined.
One of Atiku’s lawyers, who spoke to THISDAY on the condition of anonymity, because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said the former vice president’s lawyers had put together 70 grounds of appeal based on errors dictated from the tribunal’s judgement.
He said, “We will file latest on Monday, September 23, and at most, due to any unforeseen reason, by September 24. Bear in mind that the deadline for submission is Wednesday. We won’t file on Wednesday for tactical reasons.”
The lawyer also ruled out the possibility of a new legal team, because the new lawyers would not have sufficient legal background of the petition since the Supreme Court panel is expected to deliver its judgement within 60 days from September 25.
According to the source, one of the 70 grounds of appeal is that “the judgement of the PEPT was based on the facts; the judgement was not on the issues presented to the Court of Appeal presidential tribunal by the petitioner, especially in relation to the respondent’s academic qualifications.”
The lawyer continued, “Take, for instance, one of the respondent’s witnesses, Major General Paul Tarfa (rtd), called by President Muhammadu Buhari’s lawyers said that they did not give their qualifications to the Military Board. Tarfa’s testimony is against the claim by Buhari that the Nigeria military is in possession of his certificates.
“Secondly, Buhari said that he was recruited into the military in 1961 and Tarfa said in 1962, so what is the correct date of his recruitment into the army. Somebody is not telling the truth.
“The issue in question is who entered the different grades for him from both the Cambridge and the West African School Certificate results. This is the first time that the court will say that the documents are admitted in the interest of justice. So, who entered the different grades for him and if he did it, why?
“One of the grounds of appeal is that the President’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, brought the Cambridge documents dated July 18 and testified on July 20. The point here is that it was not pleaded, when the respondent replied to the petitions of Atiku. So, speaking as in point of law, you don’t speak on documents not pleaded.
“The WAEC documents contradicted the Cambridge documents. This is a case of forgery, inconsistency in documents.”
The lawyer added, “On the INEC server, the judgement of the PEPT said the INEC server was hacked and we then asked, which of the servers was hacked?
“The tribunal judgement was based on the Electoral Act section 52 (1) (B), but this aspect of the law has since been deleted in 2015. It is no longer in existence. This was the case in Wike Vs Peterside.
“If the judgement said INEC server was recklessly hacked, then, there is a server and, therefore, a criminal offence. Yet, INEC did not claim so or that its documents were stolen. How come the judge reached this scandalous decision?
“If section 52 (1) (B) is no longer in existence, how come the lead judgement came to this decision? It was not based on the documents pleaded. Therefore, how come it was decided so? That means that the judge went on a voyage of discoveries and exploration. Buhari was not accused of forgery. Rather, he was accused of lying, when he said the army was in possession of his documents
“In his form CF001, he presented an affidavit, instead of his certificates. PEPT relied on the CV presented. We are asking, is that supposed to be so? CV is basically to show working experience. No Primary School certificate. The judgement was based on inferences. The judge simply inferred.
“We are surprised that the PEPT went the way it did. It is our view that the judges would have gone further to help improve our electoral laws as well as use it to commence the reform of the electoral laws. So, these are some of the issues that form the grounds of the 70 points of appeal at the Supreme Court.”
Secondus: PDP Not Under Any Threat of Implosion
The opposition leader though admitted that the party had some challenges, these he contended, were normal in any organisation as big as PDP.
“Our party is not under any threat. What you call infighting is internal politics, which is healthy in our party. You can’t be talking of collapsing for a party that is waxing stronger and is daily getting into the hearts and minds of Nigerians.
“The mood of the country after the September 11, ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, says it all where the heart of Nigerians are politically,” he said.
According to him, PDP remained united and focused.
“What you are seeing as in-fighting is politicking expected in a liberal party like the PDP”, he added.
Secondus said the party had employed democratic means to address some of its prevailing challenges.
“We are an opposition party with no Presidency. What you are seeing is not unexpected. PDP is a democratic party not just in name, but even in its operations. Members air their views but fall in line with majority position eventually. Our politics is robust and competitive.”
He explained that PDP as a democratic organisation would not adopt dictatorial tactics to resolve its challenges.
“In a dictatorial organization, they use only stick but in a democratic one like PDP, we use stick and carrot. Stick to enforce discipline and carrot to rein in members.
“When issues crop up we do not act unilaterally, we follow the rule, because we are an organisation that believes in the rule of law. Those who feel we are having problems want us to act unilaterally, but we are guided by our constitution.”
He explained further that the controversy over the appointment of minority leader in the House of Representatives was being handled in accordance with the party’s constitution.
He expressed confidence in a peaceful resolution of the dispute, saying at the end, the party would be supreme, more united and democratic.
He said the challenges within the party remained manageable and would never snowball, because “we approach them with the best of intentions making the party supreme.”
He was optimistic that at the end, members of the party would be satisfied with the party’s fairness and firmness.
Dismissing a recent report of defection from the party, he said, “Defection to where? Even as a ruling party do you see APC as an alternative, is it a political party? They are power grabbers and you could see it clearly in their desperation. No true politician and lover of democracy and its ingredients will walk out of PDP to any party.
“The report we are getting from across the country is showing otherwise, that our membership are swelling with Nigerians, who are getting more and more distraught with the situation in the country, which they believe is as a result of poor governance delivery by the APC.”
As part of efforts to mend fences with the party, six governors elected on its platform visited the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who uncharacteristically was one of the earliest people to congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari after the Presidential Election Tribunal upheld his election and dismissed the petition of the PDP contender, Atiku Abubakar.
The meeting was however attended by Governors Umaru Fintiri (Adamawa), Emeka Ihedioha (Imo); Seyi Makinde (Oyo); Samuel Ortom (Benue); Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto); and Mohammed Mattawale (Zamfara).
After the meeting, Tambuwal, who addressed the media, explained that the governors were in Rivers to commend Wike “for his sustained projects delivery.”
He said the governors urged him to continue to deliver quality projects and sustain good governance for the development of Rivers State, adding also that the PDP remained strongly united in friendship and brotherhood.
He said: “We are here as brothers and friends to the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, in the spirit of brotherhood and friendship.
“We are here to encourage and support him for the good governance he has given to the good people of Rivers State. The 100 days of the second term of Governor Wike is also why we are here.
“The spirit in Port Harcourt and Rivers State is that of celebration and thanksgiving and gratitude to God for such a wonderful leadership by Governor Wike.”