Opposition alleges plot to turn Nigeria into one party system

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) have accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of plotting to turn Nigeria into a one party state following Appeal Court judgments that sacked three governors of the opposition.

On Sunday, the Court of Appeal in Abuja sacked Governor Mutfwang of Plateau State. In the judgment, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Elphreda Williams-Dawodu ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Mutfwang and issue a fresh one to Nentawe Goshwe of the APC whom the court declared as the valid winner of the March 18 governorship election.

Mutfwang was the third opposition governor to be sacked by the Court of Appeal within three days. Earlier on Thursday, the appeal court also sacked Governor Dauda Lawal of Zamfara State of PDP, declaring that the governorship election in March was inconclusive.

The following day, the same court nullified the election of the Kano State Governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf of the NNPP.

The development came even as the PDP has charged the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, to probe alleged public boast by leaders of the APC that they have persons in the judiciary, especially at the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court to do their bidding on election cases before them.

•Snatch, grab, run

Weighing in on the development, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, lamented what he termed “snatch, grab and run” agenda of the APC.

In a statement by his media aide, Paul Ibe, the PDP presidential candidate, alleged that the country was witnessing a situation where what the APC lost in the the 2023 elections in Nasarawa, Zamfara, Kano and Plateau states, were being delivered to them through the courts.  He said it was curious that states where the courts had made “controversial declaration” were those controlled by opposition political parties.

He stated that though democracy is essentially rooted in plurality of ideas, the opposition was being decimated by the ruling party.

“These are clearly ominous signs that threaten not just our faith in the electoral and judicial system but evincing that our democracy is compromised. It is also crystal clear that the ruling party will not desist from this inglorious ideology of ‘snatch, grab and run away with power.’

“It is even more worrisome that what is playing out now in the Plateau governorship election petition is a confirmation of the threat echoed by an APC lawmaker in a viral video that the ruling party will compromise the judicial process to ensure its ultimate victory in the courts. It, therefore, means that the times we are in are indeed ominous, and the journey ahead in rescuing our democracy from these buccaneering power grabbers is a long one. It also means that every man and woman of good conscience should come together for this common patriotic purpose.

“But we are not surprised by what is going on. In Lagos State where Tinubu holds sway as godfather, opposition became an anathema. Everyone including judges was forced to join his party. The few opposition members who managed to get elected were beaten to submission including at the Lagos State House of Assembly where the sole PDP member back in 2018 was suspended and arrested for gunrunning but mysteriously had the charges dropped immediately after he defected to the APC.”

The Acting National Chairman of the NNPP, Abba Kawu Ali, at a press briefing in Abuja, called on the international community to support Nigeria’s multi-party democracy and stop the APC from turning the country into a one-party state.

He said for anybody to claim that Alhaji Abba Kabir Yusuf was not a member of the NNPP at the time of the 2023 general election was the worst of mischief anyone can come up with.

The Chairman of NNPP in Kano State, Hashimu Dungurawa also alleged that the recent judicial verdicts at the Appeal Court sacking a number of opposition governors were not accidental by any means.

The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said Nigerians were appalled by comments credited to an APC member of the House of Representatives, from Plateau State, Yusuf Gagdi, on the litigation over the governorship election.

“The comments by APC leaders confirm the suspicion that the ruling party has set up a special team comprising of two former governors of the APC who are also serving cabinet ministers and a prominent APC leader from the North East zone with the mandate to ensure the inducement of certain judicial officers to deliver judgments against the PDP as being witnessed in the series of biased judgments by the Plateau State Election Appeal Court Panel.

“Hon. Gagdi’s declaration perhaps explains why the Plateau State Election Appeal Court panel snatched the victories won by PDP candidates in the National Assembly elections in the state and awarded same to defeated APC candidates in varying, contradictory and conflicting judgments in Appeals with the same subject matter, same facts, same circumstances and same applicable laws.

“More worrisome is that the public claim by the APC that it has persons even at the Supreme Court has directly put the integrity and honour of the highest temple of Justice in our country at stake.”

•PDP, Atiku raising false alarm

In a separate statement, Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, said the PDP and Atiku’s spokesman threw caution to the winds as they assaulted the integrity of the judiciary and made wild and libellous allegations against President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The statement reads: “In the wake of the poor run of some elected governors of the party at the appeal court, the PDP and former Vice President and his spokesman have become overtly desperate to hang their woes on President Tinubu and the judiciary, an important arm of government in Nigeria.

In blaming others, Atiku and his party have failed to demonstrate whether they had done any soul-searching before going public with their weighty, specious, reckless and irresponsible allegations.

While we do not hold brief for the judiciary, we urge Nigerians to discountenance the malicious allegations by the PDP and its candidate that President Tinubu as governor of Lagos, silenced the opposition and corrupted the judiciary and that he is planning to foist a one-party state on the country by appointing “loyalists” as Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs).

President Tinubu is a democrat to the core. We make bold to say that as president, he has not interfered with the judgment of the judiciary. We had witnessed how under his watch the PDP governor in Osun defeated the APC at the Supreme Court.

Similarly, the PDP Governor in Bauchi also won his case in the Appeal court, beating the APC.

President Tinubu is also not planning to impose a one-party state as Atiku has serially alleged, and his party and spokesman have now parroted.

These allegations are deliberately aimed at unnecessarily heating up the polity and causing disenchantment in our country.

They exist only in the imagination of the PDP and the former vice-president.

Unlike Atiku, President Tinubu’s record as a democrat par excellence and a strong advocate of the rule of law have been globally acknowledged.

His record of service as governor, which witnessed giant strides in various facets of the state, was responsible for the dominance of his political structure in Lagos and not by any undemocratic conduct, as Atiku Abubakar wants the public to believe.

In contrast, it is on record that Atiku recently confessed about the electoral heist his party executed in the Southwest in 2003 which Tinubu survived out of the six Governors of the defunct Alliance for Democracy.

While Atiku and PDP are now crying wolf over the Appeal Court rulings on governorship polls in Plateau, Zamfara and Nasarawa States, we hasten to ask the former Vice President where he was in 2019 when the court ruled against All Progressives Congress in Zamfara State. The court then awarded all the positions won by the APC to PDP.

Where was Atiku also in 2019 when in Rivers State, the court stopped APC from fielding any candidate in both the Governorship and House of Assembly elections?

Where was Atiku and the PDP in 2019, when on the eve of the swearing-in of Bayelsa governor-elect, David Lyon, the Supreme Court handed the victory of the APC to the candidate of the PDP, Governor Diri who was earlier rejected at the poll by the people of Bayelsa?

Atiku and PDP then savored all these court-handed trophies as sweet victories for PDP and celebrated the courts as protectors of democracy.

Now that the same courts are annulling PDP victories, based on the blatant violations of the law by the lawless party, the party is mudslinging the judiciary and President Tinubu.

We once again implore Atiku and PDP to stop their campaign of calumny and blackmail against the judiciary and the honorable judges and justices. Judgments are based on law and evidence. In election petition cases, they are based on the Electoral Act and the Constitution, not on sentiments and emotions.

It is irresponsible and a disservice to our country for the opposition, after failing to observe the letters and spirits of the law, to now turn around to tear down an important arm of our government.


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