South East PDP decries Appeal Court judgment
• As Ikpeazu raises the alarm over instigated invasion of Aba
THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South East geo-political zone has denounced the verdict of the Appeal Court, which nullified the election of Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu and declared Dr. Alex Otti of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), the winner of the State governorship election.
Besides, a former Majority Leader of the Abia State House of Assembly, Hon Osita Igbe who decried the judgment of the appellate court, has called for a probe of the judgment.
The governor has however raised alarm, through his Chief Press Secretary (CPC), Godwin Adindu over plans by those he called ‘opposition elements’ to invade Aba, the commercial capital of the state.
In a statement issued by the National Vice Chairman South East Zone, Retired Colonel Austin Akobundu, PDP said it was stunned by the disenfranchisement of many Abians through the cancellation of the results of three local government areas.
“We are appalled that the Appeal Court supposedly manned by men of high jurisprudence would wittingly decide to disenfranchise a majority section of Abia electorate in three local governments, all in an effort to give undeserved victory to Alex Otti and APGA, which they didn’t get at the election,” the party stated.
The Zonal PDP further argued that: “even when the Appeal Court justices had the option of ordering for a re -run election so that Alex Otti and his APGA will once more test their popularity in the poll, they chose to award undeserved victory to him. PDP South East hereby rejects the Appeal Court judgment and consequently appeals to the Supreme Court to reverse it”.
Similarly, a former Majority Leader of the Abia House of Assembly, Hon Osita Igbe decried the Appeal Court verdict and called on the Supreme Court “to reverse the appeal court verdict.”
Igbe urged the Chief Justice of Nigeria to quickly institute a probe panel to investigate the Owerri Court of Appeal judgment in view of “the controversy that the said judgment has generated “even amongst renowned and unbiased jurists.”
According to a statement he issued in Umuahia, Igbe, who is a founding member of Global Organization of Parliamentarian Against Corruption (GOPAC), contended that both the appointment of the judges and the judgment they delivered were immersed in controversy. He also queried the selection of four of the Appeal Court Justices from one Judicial Division.
His words: “Having carefully appraised these allegations, I have no option, as a lover of democracy and promoter of the rule of law, than to call for a total probe and dismissal of the verdict by the Supreme Court because it is not only a rape of democracy but a mockery of the rule of law.
“Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu’s governorship should be consolidated in order to avert a situation where the judiciary, which is the last hope of the common man, is regarded as an institution of compromise where the highest bidder smiles home with unmerited justice.”
IKPEAZU urged those funding the disturbances to stop forthwith “as government will not condone the violence in any guise.”
Speaking during a media interaction in Lagos last week, the governor said, “On Tuesday, there was an instigated invasion of the Aba residence of the State’s Commissioner of Works, Mr. Eziuche Ubani, who is one of the people leading the protest against the Appeal Court judgment, which sacked the governor.
The governor described the invasion as an unwarranted intimidation and an embarrassment to his government. He demanded an undeserved apology from those involved in the act.
According to him, “The residence of Ubani was invaded about 2am by some security men who came in six Hilux vans, broke his gate and gained entrance into his house by climbing the wall and held him hostage for four hours.
“The security personnel claimed that he (Ubani) was stock piling arms and training people to assassinate leaders of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA)”
On the decision of the Court of Appeal, Ikpeazu appealed to the judiciary not to play into the hands of some politicians whose desire is to toy with the lives and aspirations of the people of the state. The government said that what the people of the state desired was good governance, which they had experienced in the first 200 days of his administration.
He posited that the decision of the Appeal Court panel, which recently ordered his removal from office, was capable of launching the state into anarchy, but for his peaceful disposition to continue to urge the people not to take the laws into their hands.
He warned that Abia State is not for sale and nobody should trifle with the destiny of the people. All the people involved in this grand conspiracy to cause havoc in Abia and drag the state into anarchy and bloodshed should stay clear of Abia.
He lamented that since the New Year eve ruling by the Appeal Court, there have been massive protests across the state, including that of Ukwa Ugwa men, led by former Senate President Adolphus Wabara and Chief Gershion Amuta, which grounded activities in Aba. Ukwa Ugwa women also followed up on that trend, protesting in black attires as they marched on the streets of Aba in a re-enactment of the Aba Women Riot of 1929.
The governor raised fundamental issues about the Appeal Court ruling, which according to him, “if allowed to stand, would mean the denial of the rights of a large number of the electorates to choose their representatives,” as he wondered how the appellate court could allow the disenfranchising of three local governments, which constitute one-third of Abia State electorates, including the state governor himself.”
He also wondered how the justices have ordered INEC to swear-in Mr. Alex Otti immediately after their pronouncement when they know that there is still a window of 14 days within which he has the right to appeal to the Supreme Court.
He said that APGA was not ready for the 2015 governorship election as demonstrated by its inability to have candidates for the House of Assembly in the two state constituencies of Obingwa Local Government Area, where he hails from. “So who could have mobilised or monitored votes for APGA in Obingwa?”
He also faulted the constitution of the Court of Appeal panel, recalling that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state had earlier raised alarm over the composition of the judges.
According to him, “At worst scenario, if the Appeal Court judges were able to establish cases of irregularities in the three local councils, the fairest thing should have been to order for a re-run. When INEC ordered for a re-run in some booths in these three local councils and other places, APGA duly participated and at the end of the day, the PDP won in all the booths.
The governor reiterated that the peaceful demonstration going on in Aba is a legitimate expression “There is a provision for such open show of disenchantment in our constitution. The aim is to dramatize our anger over the Appeal Court ruling so that the entire world will know that injustice has been done to the people of Aba. Our people are conducting themselves within the ambit of the law.”