John Ameh, Success Nwogu and Tony Okafor
The Peoples Democratic Party on Monday said it would petition the United Nations and other global democratic institutions on the role of the military and the killings of Nigerians during the Presidential and National Assembly elections on February 23.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, who briefed the media after the party’s expanded caucus meeting in Abuja, also said the caucus commended Nigerians for coming out to vote during the elections.
He claimed that the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, won the election, adding that his mandate was “stolen.”
He stated that the caucus resolved to support Atiku and the PDP in their resolve to contest the declaration of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, President Muhammadu Buhari, by the Independent National Electoral Commission as the winner of the election at the tribunal.
Ologbondiyan said, “Caucus commended Nigerians for refusing the harassment, intimidation and militarisation of the electoral process and participating in the elections 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 to see it through to the end of what is permissible within our legal system to get back our mandate on behalf of Nigerians.
“Caucus further noted the role of the military in the February 23 elections and resolved that we will report the action of the military through a petition to the United Nations as well as other global democratic institutions on the role of our military in the February 23 elections.
“Caucus also reviewed the situation in Kano State particularly as it concerned the court decision that the PDP should organise a fresh rerun for its governorship candidate and noted that an appeal had been filed against the judgement and we will continue to study and follow the situation as they arise.”
He also alleged that the Buhari presidency and the APC had been intimidating Atiku, his acquaintances and personal lawyer.
Ologbondiyan also said the South-South geopolitical zone had been militarised, adding that the APC was allegedly plotting to rig the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections.
Ologbondiyan said, “Caucus further raised issues about the harassment, intimidation and the cajoling of our members on the plot by the Buhari presidency as well as the APC to intimidate Atiku 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.”
Asked why the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and the PDP governors were not at the meeting, Ologbondiyan said they did not shun the meeting but were busy with electioneering for the Saturday’s elections.
He added that they sent apologies for their inability to attend the meeting.
Ologbondiyan further said it was surprising that some groups had been urging Atiku and the PDP to drop the legal option.
According to him, some of those groups had been financially induced by the Presidency and the APC for their campaign.
He wondered why Buhari and the APC were jittery over the resolve of Atiku and the PDP to go to the tribunal if they had nothing to hide.
There may be no elections in 2023, says Secondus
Meanwhile, the PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, during his speech at the opening session of the caucus meeting, raised the alarm that there might be no election in 2023 if the military continued to participate during elections as they were allegedly used during the February 23 elections.
He stated that the alleged involvement of the military in the elections was undemocratic and unconstitutional.
He said they were committed to going to the tribunal, adding that they might file the case on Tuesday.
According to him, it is surprising that the National Peace Committee had allegedly kept silence over the alleged intimidation and harassment of Atiku, his acquaintances and some PDP stalwarts.
He urged INEC to ensure that Saturday’s elections were free, fair, transparent and credible.
Secondus said, “On February 23, 2019, how will history judge you (Buhari)? How will the next generation judge you? In fact, there may not be election in 2023, it may just be announcement because if you have the military on your side, you do not need the people, you do not need to campaign. All you need to do is to put the figure on election day and announce. Is that what is going to happen again on March 9?”
The PDP chairman urged the military to remain professional in the discharge of their duties, adding that they must not allow themselves to be used by politicians.
He said, “We appeal to the authorities especially our professional military men and women that this has never happened before. They must have a rethink. If they want to participate in politics, they are free to do so. I think it happened in Thailand where the military and civilians can contest and share offices. If our constitution is changed to contain that, it is a happy development but whereas the constitution says they are not part and parcel of the process, is that what is going to happen on March 9?
“The son-in-law to our presidential candidate was arrested without justification; he has been detained and has not been released. His personal lawyer has been detained and the leaders of our country are keeping quiet; the Peace Committee is keeping quiet. Everyone here is keeping quiet.”
Secondus alleged that Buhari had unleashed a full-blown dictatorship on Nigerians. He said he was hopeful of God’s intervention, adding that with the collective efforts of the people, Nigeria would be rescued.
We must challenge presidential poll result in court – Peter Obi
Also, the Vice-Presidential candidate of the PDP, Mr Peter Obi, on Monday said the outcome of the presidential election must be challenged in court.
Obi, who said this at a press conference in Onitsha, Anambra State, argued that impunity should not be allowed to prevail in the country in the 21st century.
He said, “As law-abiding citizens, the PDP as a party, Atiku Abubakar and myself, have decided to go to court because of our belief in the rule of law.
“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 the 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.
Concerning those that advised against going to court, Obi said the dilemma of Nigeria was allowing impunity to go unchallenged.
He said, “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.”
Obi, who recalled how he had been on the legal route to reclaim his governorship mandate in Anambra State before, called on Nigerians to have faith in the judiciary as the last hope of the common man.
He cautioned the Federal Government against witch-hunt of opposition leaders and most 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 have 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.”
He thanked Nigerians for their support for the PDP during the elections.
Speaking on the general conduct of the presidential election, Obi said it was anything but transparent, free and fair, adding that it fell far below the standard established by the 2015 presidential poll.
He added that it was characterised by deliberate voters’ suppression and intimidation throughout the South-East and the South-South, the actions, which he described as the highest form of corruption.
Obi lamented that the two zones under reference witnessed different sets of rules.
He said, “While some zones voted strictly using the card readers, other zones, as part of the manipulation orchestrated by the ruling party, the APC, were allowed to vote without card readers contrary to the guidelines INEC issued before the elections.”
Buhari ready to defend victory in court –Presidency replies PDP
But the Presidency said on Monday that the APC had already spoken for President Buhari in reaction to the threat by Atiku to challenge the results of the February 23 presidential poll in court.
The party had said on Thursday last week that it was ready for Abubakar and would meet him in court to defend the results of the poll.
The Presidency implied on Monday that the APC’s position was the same as Buhari’s.
Responding to enquiries by The PUNCH on Monday, as to whether Buhari was worried or ready to defend his victory, the Presidency stated, “The party (APC) has spoken for all of us.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, sent the response to The PUNCH through an electronic mail.
The National Chairman of the APC, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, had while reacting to Abubakar’s threat, said the APC was ready for him.
Oshiomhole insisted that Buhari defeated Abubakar clearly, adding that INEC could not have acted otherwise by declaring the President the winner of the poll.
He also claimed that Buhari was rigged out in some parts of the South-South and South-East geopolitical zones where he (President) ought to have won higher votes than were declared for him.
Speaking specifically on the court threat, Oshiomhole said, “We are looking forward to meeting him (Atiku) in court. We will also have the opportunity of filing cross-petitions because in Adamawa State, he had already lost the election before he did some magic that gave him that narrow victory and in many other parts of the country.”
In the results of the poll declared by the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, the President polled 15,191,847 votes to beat Abubakar, who got 11,262,978 ballots.
But, in his reaction to the results, the former Vice-President had rejected the outcome of the election on the grounds that it was marred by irregularities, especially large-scale rigging.
“If I had lost in a free and fair election, I would have called the victor within seconds of my being aware of his victory to offer not just my congratulations, but my services to help unite Nigeria by being a bridge between the North and the South.
“However, in my democratic struggles for the past three decades, I have never seen our democracy so debased as it was on Saturday, February 23, 2019. The 2007 poll was a challenge, but President Yar’Adua was remorseful. In 2019, it is sad to see those who trampled on democracy thumping their noses down on the Nigerian people.
“Consequently, I hereby reject the results of the February 23, 2019 sham election and will be challenging it in court,” Abubakar had stated.
Only on Saturday, he set up his legal team headed by Dr Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), to proceed to file a case before the election petitions tribunal.
But Oshiomhole had maintained that the election was an expression of the will of the people, which Abubakar could only wish to upturn.
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