By Dirisu Yakubu, Emem Idio, Dirisu Yakubu & Elizabeth Uwandu
ABUJA— Following its decision to contest the outcome of the Presidential elections, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, barring any sudden change in plans, will file its petition at the election Tribunal Abuja today.
The party made this known at its expanded caucus meeting which held at the PDP national secretariat, Wadata Plaza, Abuja, yesterday.
Addressing chieftains of the party, PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, said the decision of the party to seek legal redress was largely informed by what he called the brazen rigging of the polls by the All Progressives Congress, APC.
While alleging that staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, were intimidated to carry out the bidding of the ruling party; Secondus flayed the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government’s alleged use of the military to harass the electorate in some parts of the country in the course of the elections.
No going back — PDP
He said: “Nothing will make us waver in the pursuit of justice. The decision to go to court has been finalised and the process has begun.
‘’We will file our petition today (Monday) or tomorrow (Tuesday). No matter what anyone will do or what the APC will say, we will seek justice to the highest court of the land.
“What happened during this election has never happened in the history of this country. They are celebrating criminality, they are celebrating evil.
‘’Our leaders are not talking and if you don’t speak against evil, it will consume everybody. The National Peace Committee is not saying anything.
“INEC and its ad-hoc staff were intimidated and everyone is quiet. If nothing is done, we will nosedive and go deeper and deeper in this situation we have found ourselves.”
Secondus added that a repeat of the 2019 elections in the next four years would translate to no polls at all.
“In 2023, there maybe no election because if you have the military, you don’t need the people. All you need to do is to make announcement of results,’’ the party stated.
On Atiku’s son-inlaw
He also called for the immediate release of the PDP Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar’s son in-law, Babalele Abdullahi, and personal lawyer, Uyiekpen Osagie, who were reportedly picked up by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
“We ask for the release of Atiku’s lawyer and his son in-law because they are political detainees.
‘’EFCC has become an agent of suppression of the masses. They are bothered about critical stakeholders of our party,’’ he said.
He counselled the electoral umpire to be mindful of the verdict of history, noting that only a smooth and orderly conduct of the polls would endear it to the people.
Why we’re going to court — Obi
Meanwhile, Mr Peter Obi, running mate to the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, said yesterday, that the PDP decided to go to court to challenge the presidential election results to stop impunity in the country.
‘’Besides putting a stop to impunity, such a challenge will also go a long way in strengthening the electoral processes and in guarding against repetition of such dastardly acts in future.
“Though elections give citizens a means to hold their leaders accountable by voting incumbents out of office or promising to hold to account those leaders successfully elected, the process is more important than the outcome as the rule of law must always prevail. Thus, the consequences of Nigeria without rule of law will be unimaginable chaos and tyranny.”
Expressing his confidence in the judiciary, Obi said he appreciated the intervention of well-meaning Nigerians on the issue.
Obi, who recalled how he had been on the route before, called on Nigerians to have faith in the judiciary as the last hope of the common man.
He cautioned against witch-hunting of opposition leaders, especially voters in some parts of the country who voted according to their conscience.
Obi said: “To the young people, millions of whom I came across on our campaigns across the length and breadth of this country, and who showed great enthusiasm and promise for a greater Nigeria, I urge you to troop out on Saturday, March 9, to restate your message of a desire for a better Nigeria.
‘’Though a few as shown by ballot snatching, and violence are still held down by tribalism and ethnic bigotry, I urge the majority to continue in the march of the New world order, where all are equal, and Nigeria is united, secure and prosperous.”
Obi, who spoke in an interview with journalists in his Onitsha home, said he was touched by the eagerness with which Nigerians came out to fulfill their civic duties of voting.
He thanked, particularly, the youth and women, some of whom exercised their voting rights for the first time in the over 119,000 polling booths scattered all over Nigeria.
The former Anambra governor also condoled with the families of those who lost their lives and those that sustained various degrees of injuries during the election.
He appealed to them not to allow their spirit become dampened towards the performance of their civic duties in future.
On outcome of polls
On the general conduct of the election, Obi said it was anything but a transparent, free and fair election, stressing that it fell far below the standard established by the 2015 presidential election.
According to him, the election was characterize by deliberate voters’ suppression and intimidation throughout the South-East and South-South.
Obi, who described this as the highest form of corruption, lamented that the two zones under reference witnessed different sets of rule.
“While some zones voted strictly using the card readers, other zones, as part of the manipulation orchestrated by the ruling party, APC were allowed to vote without card readers, contrary to the guidelines INEC issued before the election,’’ he said.
On the way forward, Obi said he aligned fully with PDP as a party, the Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and well-meaning Nigerians in condemning the exercise.
Atiku has right to go to tribunal —Ohanaeze youth wing
Also, yesterday, the South-South Youth wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo stated that Atiku Abubakar, has the right to challenge the outcome of the presidential election.
President of South-South Youth Wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Chinedu Arthur, who stated this during a chat with newsmen, said Atiku wears the shoe and knows where its pinches, stressing that the tribunal should be allowed to prove the PDP presidential candidate otherwise.
He further stated that if the declared winners believed that they won the election free and fair, they should defend themselves at the tribunal, rather than begging for the opposition to concede defeat.
Arthur said: “Atiku wears the shoe and knows where it pinches, and he has said that he wants to go to the tribunal, it is his right. He is trying to free himself that what he is doing, the court should prove him right or otherwise.
“If the opposition believed that they won the election free and fair, they should go to the tribunal to defend themselves. The best place for the common man to get justice is the court, we are giving him every support to go to court and if by his grace he goes to court to claim his victory, then good for Nigerians.”
He also faulted the planned rescheduled presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in some areas, describing it as a ploy to deceive Nigerians.
‘’If INEC is doing the right thing, it should not come out and say there should be a presidential rerun in the same presidential election they have announced results and issued certificate of return to who they say is the winner.”
PDP to petition UN over use of military
Arising from its expanded caucus meeting, yesterday, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has resolved to petition the United Nations, UN, over the role the military allegedly played in the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Addressing newsmen at the end of the meeting, spokesman of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, said PDP would align with its Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in his quest to “reclaim his mandate,” following his decision to go to court to contest the outcome of the polls.
He said: “The caucus noted the role of the military in the February 23 election and resolved that we will report the action of the military through a petition to UN as well as other global democratic institutions on the role of our military in the Feb 23 election.
“Caucus further raised issues about the harassment, intimidation and cajoling of our members on the plot by the presidency as well as the APC to intimidate former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the resolve of the PDP to go to court by insisting, blackmailing and saying that he should not go to court. We insist that our party and our candidate have resolved to seek legal redress on the stolen mandate.”
According to him, the party’s caucus also “commended Nigerians for refusing the harassment, intimidation and militarisation of the electoral process and participating in the election but noted that the mandate that was freely given to our candidate was stolen and as such, the party and the candidate jointly resolved to go to the tribunal and reaching the end of what is permissible within our legal system to get back our mandate on behalf of Nigerians.”
The party, according to the publicity scribe, also resolved to appeal the judgment of the Federal High court sitting in Kano which nullified the candidacy of the PDP governorship flag bearer, Abba Yusuf.
The party further decried the “militarisation of the South-South and the rigging which the APC is plotting ahead of the election,” even as it urged Nigerians to come out enmasse and participate in the governorship elections.