Barr Emmanuel Enoidem is a founding member and the national legal adviser of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. In this interview, he speaks extensively on issues of the general election at the state and national levels expressing optimism that his presidential candidate will win the case at the court.
By Chioma Onuegbu
How was the PDP able to retain Akwa Ibom State?
It was not a surprise because I knew there was nothing that could happen for PDP to be displaced in Akwa Ibom State. The events that happened between 2015 and 2019 did not change anything in any way despite the defection of Senator Godswill Akpabio to the All Progressives Congress, APC. The best outing for APC in terms of membership in any location, ward or local government in the state, is not more than 30 per cent.
Are you saying the defection of the two former PDP senators to the APC did not have any Impact on the party?
The only person who left the party that had some impacts on the party was Senator Godswill Akpabio because he was one of the foremost leaders of the party in the state, and a state governor for two terms, as well as a former commissioner for six years. And he is a man who was freely loved by the people until his decision to join the APC.
Was it about the PDP or the leadership of the state Governor?
It could be the combination of the two. By 1999, Akwa Ibom was a glorified village. All the developments in Akwa Ibom today are the products of the PDP government from 1999 to date. It would be difficult to dissolve a successful marriage without the permission of the couples. That is exactly what the APC wants to do in Akwa Ibom State.
APC leaders allege that the results collated at the units were manipulated at the local government collation centres by the PDP in connivance with the REC?
I don’t understand what they mean by connivance. I don’t want to say much because if I do, some people will feel insulted. This is the first time we have a truly reflective election in Akwa Ibom State, an election that reflects the will of the people. That was made possible because we had Mike Igini as the INEC REC, who was not prepared to compromise or sell his conscience and that is why the APC leaders are castigating him. If he had accepted all the money they offered him, would they have been criticizing him?
Igini is a hero of democracy in Nigeria. His heroic fame did not start from Akwa Ibom State. He had been REC in about five states before he was posted to Akwa Ibom, and has had positive track records in those states. He said he did not come to count money in Akwa Ibom State but to count votes. He has been invited several times for a meeting outside the country, but he turned down all the offers, insisting that any meeting should be held in his office. This is the first time they are not able to bribe electoral officers and REC in the state, that is why they are shouting. If you win somebody in 30 out of 31 local government areas, that person does not have shame. These are the same people who boasted that election would be conducted in three hours. How can the entire electoral process be done in three hours if someone was not planning to rig it? My advice for them is that they should humble themselves. Let them have a moment to reflect on their own lives and live a life that would encourage the younger generations.
The APC also alleged that the issue of the card reader is not constitutional and that it’s not the duty of INEC to cancel an election once it is announced by the returning officer. How do you react to this?
They don’t understand the law. I’m sure a lot of them are dancing in their ignorance because of the result of the election Tribunal in Osun State. The Osun State cancellation was not based on over voting. Once over voting is established, a collation officer can cancel an election. So the issue in Essien Udim in particular was established to have over voted in the Senate election because they waited for the results of 9 local Governments and they now saw the victory margin of Chris Ekpeyong. They used that to jack up the result in Essien Udim, and when that was passed through the card reader, it showed that there was over voting and the total number of accredited voters were far less than the total number of voters that turned out in Essien Udim. That cannot stand in the eyes of the law. Anybody saying that the card reader is Illegal may not be talking about the 2019 election.
You are among those accused of opposing and destroying Senator Akpabio?
Anyone who paints me in such a picture is not correct. I stood my grounds to give value to politics, honesty, discountenance and selfishness in leadership. Before the defection of Godswill Akpabio, we had at least 20 different meetings between 25th December 2017 and 8th August 2018 where we tried to persuade him, using all manner of parameters, even kneeling before him to get him to understand that he does not have any place outside PDP where his honour lies, but all was to no avail. He cannot accuse anybody of conspiracy.
If anybody conspired, he was the one conspiring against the state. He betrayed the state and the entire people. When we went to Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, we all contributed money to the stadium, and not less than 20,000 people were mobilized to the stadium to give him his second term mandate. Unfortunately, all he could say was that the people would go with him anywhere he goes no matter the platform. That was the highest level of pride. So, he cannot accuse anybody to have undermined him. We were in love with Godswill Akpabio till 8th August 2018 when he made public his decision to dump the party. Anything that happens to him can only be placed on his altar.
There was the expectation that the PDP would win the presidential election, but you lost…
What went wrong was that our party was rigged out of the election. We were rigged out of the election in the North with the help of the military and police. There was suppression of voters in the South-South/South-East including the Middle Belt. However, the back servers of INEC show that PDP won that election. It would have been otherwise if anybody would think that Nigerians, in 2019, would still vote for Buhari after what we passed through in his last four years.
How would the record in INEC server indicate what the voters followed since the server is supposed to record only the attendance and not who you vote for?
Every unit was sending in results to the server. The reflection of those results from the unit is what we are talking about, and they were sending in results of each candidate. I’m not talking about accreditation; I’m talking about Unit by Unit results, form EC8A. The summary from EC8A was sent from the unit to the back sever in Abuja, and there were four severs in INEC. We have given details of those servers. If they like, let them go and change the records.