John Ameh, Chukwudi Akasike, Sunday Aborisade, Friday Olokor, Success Nwogu, Ademola Babalola, Sunday Nwakanma, Tunde Oyekola and Umar Muhammed
The All Progressives Congress and the Federal Government on Thursday derided the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, over the judgment of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.
The tribunal had on Wednesday dismissed the petition filed by Atiku and the PDP challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC at the February 23, 2019 presidential election.
The PDP and Atiku had said that they would challenge the judgment, which they described as subversion of justice, at the Supreme Court.
The judges compared the evidence provided by Atiku to “a drop in the ocean.”
But on Thursday, the APC National Chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, boasted that the PDP would always lose to the ruling party even if it took its petition to the World Court.
Oshiomhole, who spoke with State House correspondents after meeting with Buhari on Thursday, mocked the PDP, saying that the Supreme Court would merely adopt the judgment of the tribunal, since the opposition really had no evidence to substantiate its petition.
He had visited Buhari in company with the APC women leaders led by the National Women Leader, Hajia Salamatu Umar-Eluma.
He said, “We as a party we are confident that if it is within the Nigerian law for the PDP to go even to the World Court, we will meet them there. The Supreme Court of Nigeria is not that of the PDP or the APC. The Supreme Court is governed by law and it’s to interpret the evidence before the Court of Appeal. They are not at liberty to introduce new issues, neither can they bring in new witnesses.
“So, if it is what I heard yesterday, which I believe you also heard; thanks to the media, most Nigerians were detained for eight hours listening to arguments of the judges one after the other. Even though we thought it was getting longer and longer, we realised that they tried to deal with the issues raised, even the ones you and I as laymen will consider inconsequential. They dealt with each of them, trashed them and arrived at a conclusion.
“So, I don’t want to sound arrogant. Yesterday (Wednesday), I said that I hoped this whole contest is about Nigeria, who actually won the election and both parties were committed to building Nigeria. It’s not about who should be given the key.
“Now, this has been resolved and it is time to queue behind the winner and move on. Our winner is the best example that losing an election is not tantamount to the end of your political life. He lost three previous elections, and today he is the President.
“President Buhari is now ready to meet defeated Atiku Abubakar at the Supreme Court. The APC is ready to meet the PDP at the Supreme Court. Adams Oshiomhole is ready to meet my brother, (Uche) Secondus, at the Supreme Court; and he will take second and I will take first, Isha Allah.”
Oshiomhole noted that the mistake of the PDP and Atiku was to reduce the outcome of the election to what he called “social media speculations.”
Meanwhile, the women, at the meeting with Buhari, thanked him for appointing seven women as ministers and for entrusting some key ministries like the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to women.
Buhari reassured the women that he believed in their managerial abilities, a reason he appointed a woman as his finance minister.
He noted, “I am happy that I can defend myself very effectively on this issue. The APC leader is my witness. Since the coming into power of this administration, I have handed over the treasury to women.
“Even at household level, you hand over the money to women to manage. It can be taken to the level of managing the country’s treasury as well. I have consistently given it to women. It is strategic.
Apologise to Nigerians, FG tells Atiku, PDP
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, asked the PDP and Atiku to apologise to Nigerians for “willfully distracting” the administration of Buhari with their petition.
Mohammed stated this in a statement on Thursday from St Petersburg, Russian Federation.
He said while the PDP and its candidate reserved the right to pursue their petition to the highest level, “they will be better served by dropping their toga of desperation and realising that there is a limit to tomfoolery.”
He said, ‘’Nigerians are tired of this orchestrated distraction, and will rather wish that the opposition, having lost at the polls and in court, will now join hands with the government to move Nigeria to the next level.”
According to him, instead of casting aspersions on the judiciary with their poorly-framed reaction to the ruling of the tribunal, the PDP and its candidate should be thanking their stars that they are not being prosecuted for coming to court with a fraudulently-obtained evidence.
But Atiku’s media aide, Mr Paul Ibe, berated the minister for asking the PDP and its presidential candidate to apologise to Nigerians. Ibe berated Mohammed in a tweet in response to Mohammed’s statement.
South-West PDP knocks tribunal, APC hails Buhari
Also, the PDP in the South-West described the tribunal judgment as a ‘miscarriage of justice’. The National Vice -Chairman for the zone, Eddy Olafeso, in a statement on Thursday, said justice was not done by the tribunal.
Olafeso, who referred to the judgments of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court on the Osun State governorship election, said, “While we continue to accord due respect to the judiciary, it is essential that its rulings and verdicts command the respect and confidence of the citizenry in the interest of the nation.
But the Oyo State APC in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Dr. Abdulazeez Olatunde, congratulated the President.
It stated, “We hope that with the judicial process now explored, the standard bearer of the main opposition party, Atiku Abubakar, would have been convinced that the victory of the President is the true reflection of the voices of the majority of the electorate on the 23rd February, 2019.”
Atiku’s appeal will fail – Abia APC
The Abia State chapter of the APC on its part said Atiku would fail, if he appealed the judgment.
The Abia State Chairman of the APC, Donatus Nwankpa, stated this in an interview with The PUNCH in Umuahia. He described the judgment of the tribunal as the most painstaking.
He said, “You cannot stop an ambitious man from going to the appeal. Atiku will commit no crime if he appeals, but I will also want him to take cognizance, the people’s feelings and the realities of the facts of the ruling.”
Ndume congratulates Buhari
A former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, in a statement in Abuja, said the tribunal’s verdict vindicated millions of Nigerians who after the elections urged Atiku not to challenge Buhari’s victory.
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Ndume said the tribunal judgment confirmed the support of millions of Nigerians who voted for Buhari.
On his part, the Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, called on Nigerians across party lines to rally round the President to deliver more dividends of democracy.
Abdulrazaq, in his message of congratulation to Buhari, described the victory at the tribunal as well-deserved.
Abdulrazaq said, “Given the unprecedented margin of victory that Mr President recorded in our state, Kwara, and the very glaring acceptability of his candidature across the country, I have always known that any legal challenge to his victory would be just an academic exercise because the people have spoken clearly.”
Verdict, victory over falsehood –Nasarawa gov
The Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, described the judgment as a victory against falsehood.
In a statement by his Director-General, Strategic Communication and Press Affairs, Mr Yakubu Lamai, Sule said, “Truth will always triumph over falsehood.”
Why I congratulated President –Wike
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, said that he congratulated the President after the tribunal confirmed his election because it was better to offer public congratulations than visit the President at night.
Wike said that unlike some governors of the PDP, who visited Buhari at night, he made his declaration public because it came from the heart.
He spoke at the funeral service in honour of late Madam Blessing Awuse , mother of one of the leaders of the PDP in the state, Sergeant Awuse, at the St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Emohua, on Thursday.
Many PDP govs visit Buhari at night – Wike
He said, “I am sure all of you are surprised that I congratulated Buhari. Is it not good for me to congratulate him than to go to his house in the night? Many PDP governors go to see him in his house in the night. I have never gone and I will not go. I won’t go.
Buhari is not my friend – Wike
“We are the only state that the Federal Government refused to pay us our money used to execute federal projects because I don’t go to see him in the night and I won’t go. He is not my friend; he is not doing well, but he won in court. Should I say that the court did wrong? No.
“President Buhari, congratulations and carry Nigerians along. Unify the country, the country is too divided. I am saying what is right. What I will do, I will do, what I will not do, I will not do.”
The governor described politics as a game of interest, noting that Rivers people in the All Progressives Congress were under obligation to attract federal benefits to the state.
“Politics is a game of interest. And my only interest is Rivers State. Anything that is against the interest of Rivers State, I will not agree. These people sold us out, thinking that they were against Governor Wike. It is the state that you are offending because I am just one person,” he added
Wike expressed displeasure that Rivers State had key links to Buhari from the state, yet the East-West road, the seaports and other federal projects had been neglected since 2015.
He said nothing indicated that Rivers State had prominent APC members working with the President .
The governor maintained that Rivers State was a Christian state, adding that the fact of Rivers being a Christian state would not be changed by negative propaganda and falsehood targeted at his person.
He said contrary to the false claim by some mischief-makers, he never demolished a mosque.
Describing Rivers as a major oil producing state, the governor explained that it (Rivers State) deserved major projects from the Federal Government.
We produce oil. They should not punish Rivers State because of me. I am just one individual. We have not benefited anything from the Federal Government. The only thing we have benefited is the abuse they heap on me.
“They turned the NDDC into a cash cow to sponsor elections against us. Nobody protested that anomaly. Now, they want us to protest because someone did not nominate the management of NDDC this time.
“Since 2015, NDDC has not had its governing board, but nobody protested. I will not be dragged into such protests,” he said.
On the passage of late Mrs Blessing Awuse, Wike said she lived a fulfilled life and raised disciplined and trustworthy children. He described her burial as a celebration of life.
Sergeant Awuse thanked the governor for his love and friendship, adding that Wike always intevened at the most critical time.
Anglican Bishop of Ikwerre Diocese, Rt. Rev. Blessing Enyindah, praised the governor for his commitment to the development of the state.