- Statements reckless, dangerous, says Oshiomhole
Chuks Okocha and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Former vice president and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 Presidential election, Atiku Abubakar has called on his party to mobilise against what he described as “threats to democracy” by the Supreme Court judgement that ordered the removal of Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP, as Imo State governor, and his replacement with Hope Uzodinnma of the All progressives Congress.
Atiku, during the 87th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party in Abuja yesterday, said if the Supreme Court decision on Imo State was left unchallenged, “It will be the end of our hard-earned struggle for democracy, including our founding members who are today not alive.”
The National Chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus, also called for protest and raised the alarm that the APC was plotting to arm twist the Supreme Court to rule against the PDP governors of Sokoto and Benue states, and favour the APC governors in Kano and Plateau states.
But the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole described the comments of Atiku and Secondus as “very reckless” while accusing the former vice president of contributing to undermining Nigeria’s democracy.
Atiku’s call on the PDP to mobilise against the “threats to democracy” was a reversal of his earlier advice that the party and Ihedioha accept the Supreme Court verdict on Imo State.
He said: “Our great party fought and brought democracy and development to our great country. Our party governed very well from 1999 up to 2015. As true Democrats, we conceded power to the opposition in the hope that it would further entrench democracy, development and unity. But alas, Nigerians have been proved wrong by the governing APC.
“It has become very necessary for us to mobilise Nigeria to resists the threat to our democracy, unity and development. Therefore, I will like to propose that a strong committee be setup forthwith to review the last elections and recommend to the party needed reforms and how to address the challenges in the last election.
“But what cannot wait is that we should not take what has been happening in our democratic process with the role of INEC, security agencies and the judiciary for granted. If we take all these roles for granted, that will be the end of our hard-earned struggle, including that of our founding members, some who are today not alive. What can we say we have done to their struggles as they lay in their graves? Therefore, as long as we are alive, it is our responsibility to reincarnate the struggle that brought about the democracy of today that the APC governing party is threatening.”
The chairman of PDP, Board of Trustees (BoT), Walid Jubrin, said the Supreme Court judgement calls for war. He said that his attire to the meeting signifies war, stating that for a long time he had not cried but that he has been weeping after the verdict.
Secondus said the PDP NWC had credible intelligence that the Presidency and APC leadership were still arm twisting the Judiciary to ensure they deliver to them four states won by the PDP – Sokoto, Benue, Bauchi and Adamawa – “while keeping states like Kano which we clearly won.”
The PDP National Chairman added: “We have demanded that the seven Justices that participated in the Imo judicial fraud should rescue themselves from the remaining cases involving the PDP.
“We know that the APC and President Buhari have taken our civility for weakness and inability to act. We have made it abundantly clear that since they have chosen injustice, using the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, they should be ready to embrace the consequences of their actions.
“According to the 3rd President of America, Thomas Jefferson, when injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty. This is the point we are now, as the APC is using the highest court in the country to legitimise injustice.”
Secondus also proposed that PDP NEC members should embark on a protest against the judgement of the Supreme.
He said the proposed protest was to impress on Nigerians that injustice had been done to the party.
He stated that the mandate given to the party by the Imo electorate had been snatched from the party.
According to him, the declaration of the Imo State candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Chief Hope Uzodinma, as the governor was miscarriage of Justice.
He said though the ultimate justice would come from God Almighty, the aggrieved PDP leaders must speak out against injustice as their silence would be taken for consent to the alleged injustice.
Meanwhile, the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, who read the communique of the PDP NEC, assured Nigerians that the PDP would protect and defend democracy and its institutions in the country.
The communique reads: “The PDP rejects the destructions of our democratic institution and values, especially the independence of the legislature, the politicisation of the judiciary and the compromising of our security and electoral institutions.
“The PDP notes with pains, the gross abuse of the rule of law, the muzzling of the civil society and advocates of free speech, as well as ordinary Nigerians.
“The PDP totally condemns the utter desecration of judicial tenets and values, climaxing in the national embarrassment of the Supreme Court’s manufacturing of votes and donating same to the APC and its candidate, Hope Uzodimma, thereby robbing the people of Imo state, of the mandate freely given to Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as their governor.
“The PDP observes that this calculated injustice perpetuated by the Supreme Court has proven that the judiciary under Justice Tanko Mohammed is no longer the last hope of the common man, rather the lost hope of the common man in Nigeria.
“The Supreme Court by its judicial summersault has eroded the faith and confidence, which Nigerians have in participatory election thereby showcasing that there will be no need for election in the future.
“The PDP stands with the people of Imo state and Hon. Emeka Ihedioha in all steps being taken to reverse this injustice and reclaim the governorship mandate stolen through the Supreme Court.
“The PDP assures Nigerians that our party, through all available constitutional and legitimate means, including civil disobedience, will insist that this government must respect the rule of law and desist from influencing the judiciary, INEC and security agencies.
“The PDP will not allow the judiciary, security agencies and other institutions of governance to become departments of the APC.”
Oshiomhole: Atiku Contributed to Undermining Democracy
Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole has described the comments of Secondus and Atiku on the Imo State judgement as “very reckless and ‘dangerous.”
He also said Atiku was the least qualified to talk about election manipulation in the country, saying that he contributed his part in undermining democracy.
Oshiomhole, while addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, said the statement credited to Secondus was designed to instigate unrest in the country.
The national chairman accused PDP of trying to blackmail and ambush the judges of the Supreme Court in the remaining cases, because they are afraid of losing Sokoto and other states.
“I just need to recall what the facts are to show that PDP is not only reckless but believed it is their birth right to continue to benefit from electoral fraud and electoral manipulation.”
Oshiomhole said that the collation officer, who happened to be a professor of mathematics curiously did not know that 12 was not two third of 27 local government areas and proceeded to unlawfully declare Ihedioha governor of Imo state.
He noted that in a society that is committed to fairness and rule of law, the returning officer ought not only to be dismissed, he ought to have reported himself to the security on how he arrived at the decision to declare Ihedioha governor.
Oshiomhole stated: “When they (PDP) make statement such as this, it is a threat to our democracy. They behave as if they have another passport. But the rest of us who have only one passport, the green passport, this democracy has come to stay. We must contribute our quota to deepen it by obeying the rules of the game.”
He also said that Atiku was the least qualified to talk about election rigging because he allegedly manipulated all institutions of democracy when PDP was in power.
Oshiomhole said: “But bad examples cannot be the basis for making progress, we are not about to copy him, but it is important that we remind Nigerians that talking about electoral fraud, talking about manipulating institutions of democracy that Atiku cannot be the advocate. He contributed his own bit to undermining democracy.”