Oshiomhole: INEC wrong to issue Diri certificate-of-return

By Tony Akowe, Abuja


National Charman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) , Comrade Adams Oshiomhole on Friday faulted the decision of the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue certificate of return to the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Duoye Diri.

He said  the commission only decided to usurp the interpretative powers of the court.

He said APC will be heading to court to ensure that nobody who was not elected by the people is imposed on Bayelsa as Governor.

Oshiomhole also lashed out at Rivers Governor Nyelsom Wike over his statement that his (Oshiomhole) comment on the decision of the Supreme Court is capable of creating anarchy in the country.

He said Wike was trying to use his name to regain relevance in the PDP, pointing out that the governor already accepted the fact that his party lost the governorship election.

Addressing a news conference at the APC secretariat, Oshiomhole said: “Between me and my friend (Wike) who has the history of violence?

“Don’t you know how many lives you have wasted that we have read in the papers. I ran for election twice as governor and not a single gun shot was fired.

“Where was the police and military officers beheaded, it was in Rivers? Who was the great winner of that election violence, was it not Wike?

“So if he is the one talking about violence, when did the tortoise begin to challenge the antelope to a race race?

“Governor Dickson, who accepted defeat in Bayelsa election, accused him of anti-party activity and I know he wants to use me to regain his lost membership of PDP”.

The former Edo Governor said that the Supreme Court never made any consequential order but merely asked the electoral umpire to issue certificate to the next candidate with the required spread.

He said that the votes scored by the PDP candidate only met the requirement in five local government areas of the state, adding that what is required was six local government areas.

The former Labour leader said: “For good reasons, the Supreme Court gave a conditional order which is that INEC should swear in the second candidate with the highest number of votes and the required constitutional spread.

“I believe fact that the Supreme Court insisting on constitutional spread is in recognition that the constitution doesn’t want anyone whether governor or president to preside over the affairs of the state without at least enjoying two third of the support of the electorates of that state.

“Clearly, the votes scored by the PDP and their candidate in that election only met the requirements in five local government councils. And, you need six LGAs to meet the requirements of two third.

“The PDP candidate did not satisfy this requirement.

“INEC has now chosen to appropriate the power of the court and the judicial power to interpret laws that it is neither competent to do nor does it have the mandate to do.

“Rather than allow the court, if there is conflicting interpretation to clarify the issues, INEC resorted to appropriate judicial powers and choose to proceed without any express order from the Supreme Court to purport to have cancelled or voided, or waste the votes casted in favour of APC in order to be able to have a dubious spread in favour of PDP.

“INEC failed to recognise that its responsibility does not include legal interpretation. And, the Supreme Court did not ask INEC to go and begin to assume judicial powers. All they had to do was simple arithmetic of who has the highest votes.

“Does such person have the required spread? If the answer is no. INEC can do no more. It has decided to now assume that the case of Bayelsa is exactly the same case as that of Zamfara. Now, in so doing, INEC has assumed judicial powers.

“Yet, even elementary 100 level student know that the issue in Zamfara is quite different from that of Bayelsa state. In Zamfara state the Supreme Court said APC didn’t conduct primary and since we didn’t conduct primary according to Supreme Court, we could not have had candidate because primary is a requirement under the law and under the electoral act and under our party constitution.”

The APC Chairman said further that “in the case of Bayelsa, the Supreme Court recognise that primaries have been conduct. It upheld those primary as valid. However, it had issues with the qualification of the running mate of our candidate.

“This case is exactly the same as that of Adamu Muazu in 1999 in Bauchi state when the court found out that after the election, the deputy governor to Adamu Muazu had issues with his qualifications. The Supreme Court accordingly nullify the candidature or disqualified the running mate proceeded to nullify the election and ordered for fresh elections to be conducted by INEC within 90 days.

“The PDP candidate Adamu Muazu was allowed to nominate another candidate as running mate. This is exactly the same case in Bayelsa. But unfortunately, INEC has chosen to appropriate the powers of the judiciary.

“If it were the intention of the Supreme Court to nullify or to declare the votes cast in favour of APC as wasted, the Supreme Court should have said so. INEC can not import into the judgement or delete anything from judgement.

“We have of course recognised that having now purported to have issue Certificate of Return to the PDP, we still believe that there are viable legal windows that we will explore.”

He said inspite of the pains in their heart, the APC still has confidence in the judiciary, saying “we still affirm our confidence in the judiciary even with the pains in our hearts because we recognize that in a democracy, we have judiciary that gives judgement which sometimes you are happy with and some other times you are not happy.

“What we quarrel with today is not the judgement of Supreme Court. What we got aggrieved with is the attempt by INEC constituting itself into a Court and appropriate judicial powers which the Constitution of Nigeria never vested in INEC.

“So we want to put the people of Nigeria on notice and in particular our people in Bayelsa to maintain the peace. We will however sustain the legal processes to ensure that nobody hide under any judicial power to impose minority votes in Bayelsa State Democracy is a game of numbers.

“It could not have been the intention of the Supreme Court that the man who did not have the spread be sworn-in as a Governor. That was why the Supreme Court made that conditional provision and INEC come in now declared somebody that did not meet that condition.

“INEC itself is in contempt of the decision of the Supreme Court. We are going do everything to deploy every legal means to upturn the imposition by INEC that intend to weakened and destroy the fabrics of democracy. Briefly put, we are going to Court and we will seek legal redress.