Edo PDP: Playing Discordant Tunes Over Governorship Election Petition
Discordant tunes are still coming from the camp of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State four weeks after the 14 July 2012 governorship election in the state. At the end of the ballot count which followed the close of polls, the election umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) returned the incumbent governor and candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, as the winner of the election with unprecedented margin in the political history of the state. Since the INEC’s declaration, the PDP appears to be engaged in confused actions.
The first official response of the PDP to the election results was a statement late Sunday, 15 July in which the party congratulated the people of the state over their decision regarding who governs them in the next four years.
According to the statement signed by the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Matthew Urhoghide, the party said, “This is however without prejudice to all other latent issues that may arise subsequently after a thorough study of all the issues appertaining to the election.”According to the Edo PDP, the party being part and parcel of the people, would always feel their pulse and do their bidding.
“The PDP in Edo State will like to reassure Edo people that we have learnt from our immediate and past experiences and promise to always stand in the gap for Edo people in their quest to achieve to the fullest their aspiration of quality life. We thank INEC, Law Enforcement Agencies and all those who assisted in making the whole election process a very peaceful one. We also thank our party faithful that have remained resolute and dogged in their pursuits and determination to ensure good governance for our people.”
However, in the afternoon of Monday, 16 July 2012, the party issued another statement signed by the state chairman, Chief Dan Orbih. “Just before the close of polls of the July 14, 2012 Governorship Election in Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, in a reaction before the media, strongly indicted and accused Professor Attahiru Jega and Edo State INEC of colluding with Edo PDP to compromise the integrity of the election, the statement said in part.
The Edo PDP further said it agreed totally with Governor Oshiomhole that the election was froth with high and pervasive irregularities, and that in addition to the governor’s observed ‘high and pervasive irregularities’, it wished to record the following facts and to make them public.
According to the party, the facts are:
“a. Edo PDP had, before the election, opposed the use of currently serving NYSC members in Edo State to conduct the elections. Facts abound everywhere that NYSC members used as INEC officiating staff became agents of the ACN, served its purpose and subverted the voting process.
“b. In several units, voters were deliberately prevented from voting through non provision of authentic voters’ registers. This action disenfranchised a lot of the voting public in those units.
“c. Party agents of the NCP, SDMP, LP and CPC at the polling units became agents of the ACN in order to compromise the process. Some of these agents are known ACN members.
“d. The released results show a pattern of figures being prearranged. There are infallible reasons to believe that figures had been allocated to the various voting units in the eighteen local government areas long before the election took place, among others.
About two weeks after, the PDP governorship candidate in the election, Major General Charles Airhiavbere (retd) proceeded to the Election Petition Tribunal to file a petition against the declaration of Oshiomhole as the winner of the gubernatorial election.
Perhaps it was in pursuant of the line of action that the party last weekend, through its Director of Publicity, Okharedia Ihimekpen, issued yet another statement advancing reasons the party is at the election tribunal. According to the statement made available on 05 August 2012, the party alleged that the governorship election was riddled with fraud, irregularities, rigging and manipulations.
“To deepen democracy and the rule of law and in the overall interest of the good people of Edo State, we have decided to contest the results of the elections in the election tribunal on the following grounds: that Governor Adams Oshiomhole was invalidly returned by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (Edo State) as duly elected, despite the fact that the election not having been conducted in compliance with the provisions of the electoral Act 2012 (as amended); that the returning officer Edo State Governorship election as the returning officer wrongly proceeded to declare Adams Oshiomhole winner of the election by issuing form EC8E on the 15th day of July, 2012; that the Resident Electoral Commissioner (Edo State) also subsequently and wrongfully issued Adams Oshiomhole with the certificate of return on behalf of the Independent National Commission (INEC); that Adams Oshiomhole who was purportedly returned as the winner of the said Election was not qualified to contest for the said Election for the office of the Governor Edo State,” the Edo PDP said.
It observed that despite the non-revision and non-amendment of the voters register, amended and criminally altered the voters’ register were used in various wards and polling units in the three senatorial districts, just as it added that, “We are also contesting the relevant academic qualifications of the ACN candidate Adam Oshiomhole. He only tendered a modern school leaving certificate without a primary school certificate which by the constitution does not qualify him to contest the election.
Secondly, even the modern school certificate he presented on oath to INEC had also be found to be ingenue and fake. These are our take to the election petition tribunal.
“Besides, We decided to take this noble part of honour in our belief that the outcome of our action will not only help to deepen democracy and rule of law but will give the good electorate of Edo State a relief and the high spirit urgently required to move Edo State forward in the advancement of democracy,” the Edo PDP further said.
Curiously, 24 hours later, precisely on 06 August 2012, the Edo PDP made a volt face, saying it would not challenge Oshiomhole’s victory at the election tribunal. The party said it has decided for now, not to contest the INEC’s declaration of Oshiomhole as the winner of the July 14 gubernatorial election in the state in the interest of the state. This position was contained in yet another statement entitled “Edo State Governorship Election 2012 - Let God Be The Judge” which was dated 03 August 2012 and signed by its state chairman, Chief Dan Orbih.
The party said it was aware of the divergent views and expressions by the public, just as it was also aware of the legal options available to it. “However, PDP has fully consulted the leadership of the party both within and outside the state. During these consultations, legal opinions were sought and it is the conclusion of the party that while we appreciate the effects the results declared by INEC will have on our teeming members, we are also mindful of the consequences which the state may run into with protracted litigation. Consequently, though painful, for now, PDP has decided not to file any petition before the governorship Election Petition Tribunal in the interest of the state,” the party added.
The Edo PDP observed that while the party worked and abided by the principle of one man, one vote, its main opponent engaged the instrumentalities of intimidation, even as it alleged that the ACN obstructed the continuous voters re-registration exercise thereby preventing eligible voters from being registered and vote during the election, and also manipulated existing voters registers as well as the results of the election to their fullest advantage.
This latest Edo PDP’s position attracted reaction from Governor Oshiomhole.
The governor through his Chief Press Secretary, Peter Okhiria viewed the decision of the PDP not to contest the election at the tribunal as a step in the right direction as the result of the election showed an overwhelming support for him across the 18 local government areas of the state.
In his reaction which came on Monday 06 August 2012, Governor Oshiomhole said “I wish to extend my hand of fellowship to all men of goodwill to join hands with Government to move the state to the next level, because, despite all the successes recorded in the last three and half years, Edo state is still work-in-progress. I look forward to more collaboration between my government, other political parties and interests in the state. I want to restate my full respect for the PDP leader, Chief Tony Anenih, whom I hold and will continue to hold in high respects.
“I also wish to assure the PDP Candidate, Maj.-Gen Charles Airhiavbere (rtd) whom I regard as a friend, that now that we have put the elections behind us, my doors are open so that together, we may lift our state to the high level where it should be. I however wish to state that other issues raised by the PDP will be commented on on another occasion.”
Indeed that same Monday, 06 August, Ihimekpen once again provided what some persons have presumed to be a crack in the relationship between the leadership of the party and its candidate when he said, The PDP may decide to withdraw but it does not mean that the candidate has withdrawn the suit. As I am speaking with you now, we are serving INEC, the state government copies of the suit. So Airhiavbere is still in court.”Share