BARELY 48 hours after the election of Nyesom Wike as governor was nullified, the Rivers State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja yesterday voided the election of the Speaker, Owaji Ibani and19 of his colleagues in the Rivers State House of Assembly.
The 20 lawmakers were standard bearers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for April 11, 2015.
Last Saturday, the Justice Ambrosa led Governorship Election Petition Tribunal had nullified Wike’s election on the account that the election was fraught with violence and irregularities in areas where they were held.
The State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal also predicated its decision to void the lawmakers’ election on the same finding.
It held that the petitioners had satisfied it that the election of the House of Assembly in the state was marred with violence and irregularities and ordered that fresh election is conducted within 90
Meanwhile, the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has summoned an emergency meeting of the party’s national caucus to discuss what it called an alleged onslaught against the party and its candidates in the last general elections by the APC-led Federal Government.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, in a statement yesterday said the caucus members, who are to meet on Thursday would focus on ‘the unrelenting schemes by the APC and its Federal Government to use some unpatriotic elements in the Judiciary to advance their plot to take over states won by the PDP, particularly Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Taraba and Abia states.’
Meanwhile, Governor Olusegun Mimiko has expressed dissatisfaction over the judgement of the tribunal, which sacked the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, last weekend, insisting that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will still win again.
Mimiko said this in Akure yesterday, noting, however, that, “tribunal judgment can go either way, but the Rivers own is particularly embarrassing. We all know the circumstances surrounding the Rivers State tribunal.”
He stated that for unjustifiable course, the tribunal was not allowed to sit in the state, revealing that, “somewhere along the line the chairman of the tribunal was changed. Now we challenge the jurisdiction of the tribunal and it has gotten to the Supreme Court.”
Also, the Rivers state governor, Nyeesom Wike yesterday described alleged wish by All Progressives Congress (APC) to unseat him as a mirage and a flitting illusion.
He spoke as APC dedicated Saturday’s nullification of the state’s governorship polls by the election petition tribunal to over 100 of its members allegedly killed during the campaign period
Governor Wike, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Opunabo Inko-Tariah, said the verdict by the tribunal was a fad, and that after savouring the euphoria of the victory with a short life span, the APC will come to terms with reality.
“The tempest of justice cannot blow fitfully in our tribunals. I have the settled conviction that sagacity shall eventually prevail. The tribunal’s ratio decided surfers from a twin ill of eclipse of reasoning and poverty of logic and shall be subjected to the clinical prognosis of the lab of the Court of Appeal. I advise our teeming supporters not to be distraught and also remain calm. Remember, after thunder, comes rain,” he said.
The governor said the mandate freely given to him by the electorate can never be stolen under any guise. He noted that it is irrefragable that his refreshing initiatives and policy articulations have helped refuel the ethos of good governance within four months that he has been in office. Wike said he remained “the man who stopped APC’s march of conquest, terror and subjugation as I navigated Rivers State through the stormy waters to this point of safety.”
The PDP statement said: “The national caucus meeting is in furtherance of the decision of the leadership of the party to fully activate its structures in stiff resistance to the manipulations, coercions and threats of the APC-led government, and in line with the unbending determination by the party not to, in any way whatsoever surrender any mandate freely given to it by the people at any level across the country, no matter the pressure.”
In condemning the judgment of the Akwa Ibom and Rivers states election tribunals, Metuh alleged “reprehensible steps taken by the APC government that culminated in the overturn of Rivers State and the Akwa Ibom State governorship polls, which include:the curious and controversial relocation of the election tribunals from their states to Abuja without any justification and the constant juggling of judicial officers and members of governorship elections tribunal in PDP states, especially Rivers and Akwa Ibom states among others.
Metuh further alleged: “The bias in the judgment against the PDP in Rivers as well as Akwa Ibom is evidenced in the contradictions inherent in the trial process of the two cases and the verdicts therein, whereby the tribunals clearly disregarded standing legal norm that a petitioner must establish proof of claims.”
Meanwhile, a group, Governance Watch Initiative (GWI), has expressed shock Metuh’s statement on Sunday, urging PDP members and supporters to action.
In a statement by National Coordinator, Rotimi Ogunwuyi, the group said: “We are horrified that a party that was until six months ago the ruling party in our country, and one that was in control of 27 states at a certain time could so brazenly seek to instigate anarchy in the country simply because a duly constituted tribunal upturned the governorship election in Rivers State.
“We have also noticed a series of unwarranted attacks against our nation’s judiciary by Chief Metuh and his party, an attack that was carried to a disturbing level in Sunday’s statement.
“We recall that when Chibuike Amaechi, then of the PDP, was pronounced as the Governor of Rivers State by the Supreme Court in October 2007, even when he did not contest that year’s governorship election since his name had been substituted by his party, the PDP did not think the judiciary was being used by the PDP-led Federal Government of the time.
“We also recall that under the present dispensation, all the APC National Assembly candidates in Rivers, who took their cases to the election petition tribunal, lost and heavens did not fall.
We note that Chief Metuh has always been quick to say that his party will provide a credible opposition, and wonder what is credible in the kind of subversive statements that have been emanating from the PDP spokesman in recent times.
“If indeed Chief Metuh and his party believe in the rule of law, as they have often trumpeted, they would have realized that it is better to appeal any judgment they do not like than to threaten to bring the entire country crashing down on everyone.
“What true democrat will resort to self-help to resolve an electoral dispute when there are clear constitutional channels to resolve such issues? It is an interesting irony that the same Chief Metuh, who has been raving at the judiciary, is the one calling, in his statement, on the Chief Justice of Nigeria to ‘note the looming danger and save the nation’s democracy and the institution of the judiciary’.