The crisis within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took a new turn as the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has dragged the party to court over its presidential party held on 28 and 29 May in Abuja. Also listed as respondents are the presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the Governor of Sokoto State, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
Since the primary in which Wike polled 237 delegate votes to finish behind Abubakar who had 371 votes, while Tambuwal stepped down for Abubakar shortly before the delegates went to the poll. Several efforts to reconcile Wike with the party, particularly since he appeared to have been bypassed in the choice of a vice presidential candidate in preference of Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, have failed.
When aspirants were asked to address delegates during the primary, Tambuwal asked his supporters to vote for Abubakar to vote for Abubakar.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/782/2022, Wike and a PDP chieftain, Newgent Ekamon are listed as the plaintiffs. In the originating summons, the PDP is listed as the first respondent while the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) is the second respondent. Tambuwal and Atiku are listed as the third and fourth respondents.
In the originating summons, Wike and his co-applicant asked the court to determine eight issues including whether the purported transfer of Tambuwal’s votes to Abubakarby the PDP was illegal and void.
The plaintiffs asked the court to determine if Tambuwal lost his claim to votes the moment he stepped down for Abubakar. He asked the court to determine whether Tambuwal “having stepped down during the primary ought to lose his votes”.
Wike and Ekamon argued that should these issues be determined in their favour, the court should grant nine reliefs including a declaration that the purported transfer of Tambuwal’s votes to Abubakar be declared null and void.
The plaintiffs are also seeking a declaration that the PDP acted negligently and in bad faith by assigning the Sokoto State governor’s votes to Abubakar at the primary.
They prayed the court to “cancel the transfer of votes and a corresponding order restraining the third respondent (Tambuwal’s) withdrawal in the primary was done after voting had commenced”.
The applicants also prayed the court to declare that the PDP and Abubakar took undue advantage of Tambuwal’s withdrawal when they allowed the Sokoto State Governor to persuade delegates to vote for the former Vice President in the primary.
Wike and Ekamon asked the court to order INEC to reject or remove Abubakar from “its list of candidates in the 2023 presidential election”.
They are also seeking an order commanding the PDP to recount the votes of the primary.
The applicants are also seeking an order of the court “directing the first respondent (PDP) to declare the second applicant (Wike), a presidential aspirant in the 28 and 29 May primary as the winner of the aforesaid primary with a corresponding order directing the 1st respondent (PDP) to forward his name as the candidate to contest the presidential election in 2023″.
In a supporting affidavit he deposed to, Ekamon noted that he was a member of the PDP and attested to the fact that Wike won the presidential election. He maintained that Tambuwal withdrew from the contest after voting had commenced and directed that his votes be assigned to Abubakar.
“The third respondent (Tambuwal) speaking twice before stepping down from the contest, persuaded all his delegates who were going to vote for him to vote for the fourth respondent (Abubakar).
“The first respondent (PDP) and fourth respondent (Abubakar) respondents who also wanted the votes desperately agreed with the third respondent (Tambuwal) and assigned third respondent’s (Tambuwal) votes to the fourth (Abubakar) respondent and increased his votes to win the second applicant (Wike).
“The second applicant (Wike) won the primaries if the votes of the third respondent (Tambuwal) had not been transferred or assigned to the fourth respondent (Abubakar).
The PUNCH learnt that the court processes had been served on the PDP at its Wadata Plaza headquarters in Abuja, while a copy had also been delivered to Abubakar’s campaign office in Maitama and the Sokoto State Government’s Liaison Office by the court bailiff.
“If I wanted to scuttle the convention, I could have done that and I told them… I have never seen how people can violate procedures and guidelines. Somebody had spoken. It is only at that point he was speaking that he could say I have withdrawn. You don’t call him back”, Wike had said.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba said he was not aware of the case and could not comment on it.
“I’m just hearing about this case from you. I have not seen the process and thus cannot comment on it”, he said.
Source: The PUNCH