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S’Court judgment: APC, PDP leaders in war of words

Anietie Okon
Senator Anietie Okon

Leaders of the All Progressives Con
gress, APC and their counterparts
in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP are currently enmeshed in the war of words following the Supreme Court verdict which upheld the election of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
In a communiqué issued at the end of a one-day meeting of its elders, members and stakeholders, the All Progressives Congress (APC) totally rejected the ruling of the Supreme Court, urging the president the probe the apex court’s ruling.
“We want to put on record our utter rejection of the judgment of the Supreme Court on the PDP appeal against the victory of the APC at the Court of Appeal in the state governorship election petition. We believe that the judgment of the Supreme Court is devoid of reason, logic and depth. The Supreme Court judgment is a dangerous act of political advocacy that completely ignores the uncontested and overwhelming evidence of the petitioners (Umana Okon Umana and APC) at the Tribunal which had held that the petitioner had proved that there was no valid election in 18 of the 31 location government areas in the state.

Ita Awak, APC Spokesman
Ita Awak wants judgment probed

“ In the light of the facts of our case and the overwhelming evidence as upheld by both the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, we find the judgment of the Supreme Court to be weird, arbitrary and an inexplicable endorsement of violence and electoral fraud that was procured by the use of state power and resources for evil ends.
“We find it strange but instructive that on the judgment day, as soon as the Justices of the Supreme Court retired to their chamber to consider their judgment, the Senate minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who is also the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, arrived obviously on cue at 8pm with a large contingent of praise singers, and proceeded to address PDP supporters within the court premises, telling them that ‘it was all over.’ With the shout of his supporters renting the air, Akpabio caused quite a stir as he swept into the courtroom in a frenzy of banters with PDP and Udom Emmanuel’s lawyers whom he equally assured by repeatedly stating: “It is all over.” It was a display that totally called into question the integrity of the Supreme Court and vitiated its judgment on the Akwa Ibom governorship election petition appeal.
“We are therefore calling on the President and Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the judgment of the Akwa Ibom State Governorship Election Appeal at the Supreme Court. We passionately request Mr. President to institute an inquiry into the various and widely held notion that the Supreme Court judgement was procured through huge financial inducements so that justice and fairness would be restored to Akwa Ibom people.
“We believe such enquiry is inevitable to address the possible consequences of the Supreme Court judgment which is bound to encourage resort to self help, violence and all forms of illegality and barbarity in the quest for power. We believe that this purchased judgment from the Supreme Court does not reflect Mr President’s desire to weed out corruption from our society”, the communiqué reads in parts.
In a swift response, leader of the PDP in the state said “the APC leaders’ display of irresponsibility started well before the Supreme Court judgments”.
In a press statement by Akwa Ibom Leaders Caucus, the PDP elders berated the comments of the APC leaders and Prof. Itse Sagay, saying the APC National Chairman committed sacrilege and must be punished accordingly.
Parts of the statement are reproduced below:
“After the Appeal courts nullified the elections in Rivers and Akwa Ibom States, Chief John Oyegun, the chairman of the party declared that the party will take over the two states at all cost. He was so emphatic about Akwa Ibom State: ‘I am more than confident of winning Akwa Ibom than any other state in the South South. We are going to win, that is almost a certainty’ At this point, the Supreme Court, the final arbiter in the matter of electoral disputes was yet to reach a determination on the case. It is either Chief Oyegun wanted to intimidate the apex court or believed such inconsiderate pressure will steer and tilt towards a weighting of the decision of the court in their favour. If the former was the case, it is a pathetic commentary on the values of those running the country that they see no institution as too sacred to be debased in their inordinate greed for power. If the latter was the case, it may explain why the Appeal Courts nullified the election in the two states, against the run of commonsense and the law.
“It is also possible that the APC leader committed the fatal flaw of believing his own propaganda. Having marketed the lie that there was no election in Akwa Ibom State, and even when they contradicted themselves by claiming there was no election and alleging at the same time that there was over voting, they still believed their lie that they had a case. Unfortunately for him, the courts (especially the Supreme Court) are not theatres of sentiments or propaganda. They are theatres for determining objective reality and that reality was that elections held in Akwa Ibom State and Udom Emmanuel was the winner. It is a reality APC desired to wish away but given the strength of truth inherent in this case, certainly wishes could not turn into horses for fools to ride.
“Shortly after making his ‘greed for power’ declaration in respect of Akwa Ibom and Rivers States, the Supreme Court upheld the election of Chief Nyesom Wike in Rivers State. At this point Oyegun could no longer contain his frustration. As the reality dawned on him, he threw caution to the wind and called for the probing of the Supreme Court, an unheard of and bizarre proposition in the annals of this country. In his own words, he found the judgment ‘astonishing’. He should do. What he should not and could not have done was question the integrity and the sanctity of the Supreme Court. In fact, Chief Oyegun committed sacrilege and must face severe and commensurate censure. In fact, he should be committed for contempt of the Supreme Court.
“He is so frustrated because, in his own words, the oil producing states should not remain in the hands of the opposition. To quote him, “We have lost very important resource-rich states to the PDP. No matter how crude oil prices have fallen, it is still the most important revenue earner for the country. I will take up your request to facilitate a meeting with the President. We will do that as soon as possible and also make it clear that there are problems which as a party, we must address’. Clearly this was about the party having access to the oil wealth of the South South states. Was this ‘greed for oil’ enough to desecrate our judiciary and attempt to subjugate the will of the people?
“On Wednesday, 03 February 2016, the Supreme Court heard the Appeals filed by Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) challenging the Court of Appeal Judgments nullifying the Governorship election held in Akwa Ibom State on 11 April 2015. The Supreme Court after hearing arguments from all the parties allowed the Appeals and set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal and thereafter adjourned to 15 February 2016 to give reasons for its Judgments.
The above decisions by the Supreme Court have led to the unnecessary and unprofessional maligning of the Supreme Court by those perceived to be sympathetic to the APC candidates. More worrisome is the fact that prominent amongst those condemning the Supreme Court are renowned legal minds that ought to know that the Supreme Court has not given reason for its decisions. One will ask, on what basis do they anchor their conclusions that the Supreme Court was at fault? Is it on law or sentiment?
“A professor of law, Itse Sagay was reportedly quoted in Punch Newspaper report of 05 February 2016 as describing the Supreme Court decisions on Governorship polls including Akwa Ibom and Rivers as strange and liking the Supreme Court to an ancient King called Draco who punished every crime by death. He further reportedly queried:
“How can all the governorship cases go the same way? How is that possible? That is the question we are all awaiting when they will give the reasons for their judgments. “I don’t know how to put it, but it’s very strange. We will wait for them to give their reasons and see how that magic occurred that every governorship election was valid and in line with the Electoral Act. It is very unprecedented. We will see when they give their full judgments that is it for now.”
“It is unfortunate that the learned professor of law who fully understands the need to await the outcome of the reasons and the full judgments of the apex Court opted to jump the gun by likening the Supreme Court to an inglorious ancient King called Draco. Such unwarranted maligning of our sacred national institution should not come from a man of Sagay’s status. It calls to question the objectiveness of his stance on this critical national issue.
“More strange and worrisome is the fact that Prof Sagay who probably has not read the processes filed by all the parties, nor has had the benefit of hearing from both sides found it convenient to attack the Supreme Court on the pages of Newspapers. Had Prof. Sagay taken a time out to review the evidence presented by the Petitioners in the course of trial, he would have seen through the Supreme Court Judgment.
“A situation where the Petitioners who challenged Election in over 2988 polling units called only 48 witnesses out of which only 3 polling units  agents testified. The so-called expert evidence which feebly attempted (without success) to analyze the result sheets and electoral forms were out-rightly rejected by the Tribunal. The Petitioners’ case was riddled with contradictions both in terms of pleadings and evidence adduced at the trial. These contradictions later re-surfaced in the judgments of both the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal. For instance, while the Tribunal anchored its nullification of 18 Local Governments out of 31 LGAs on disenfranchisement of voters, the Tribunal totally ignored the age long principles of law settled by the Supreme Court on polling unit by polling unit proof of allegation of disenfranchisement.
“Sadly, the Court of Appeal did not correct this anomaly but instead having seen the weakness of the Petitioners’ evidence on disenfranchisement, the lower Court opted to suo motu raise the issue of over-voting relying on the Card Reader Report that was tendered through the bar without calling the maker to be cross-examined. The Court of Appeal further raised several fresh issues and resolved them in favour of the Petitioners without calling the parties to address it on those fresh issues and thereby breached the right of fair hearing of Udom Gabriel Emmanuel and his Party. Such conflicting judgments based on conflicting evidence ordinarily cannot be sustained by any Supreme Court that is out to do justice devoid of fear or favour.
“Prof. Sagay evidently did not bother to cross-check the facts of the case in Akwa Ibom State but opted to make a sweeping condemnation of the apex Court without having the benefit of the reasons for such Judgments.
“It is not only disturbing but equally paradoxical that the same APC Leadership that lauded the Supreme Court just recently for throwing out Wike’s Appeal challenging the sitting of Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja as being against the law will now turn around to malign the same Supreme Court for exercising its constitutional duty. Similarly, this same Supreme Court being maligned, without prompting, affirmed the victories of APC in Zamfara, Ogun, Oyo and Osun States! The Supreme Court was lauded by the APC Leadership as representing the final hope of common man. One then wonders why this same APC Leadership is now crying foul now. What a double-speak! Must all judgments be in favour of APC to meet their sense of justice? The call to probe and possibly arrest the Justices of the Supreme Court by the APC leadership portends a great danger to our great country. It is simply an invitation to anarchy. If people reject the rulings of the Supreme Court when it does not go their way, where would we be heading as a country?
“The APC Candidate in Akwa Ibom Governorship Election, Umana Okon Umana in his recent address to APC supporters in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State Capital equally took a swipe at the Judgment of the apex Court. Same with the report by the little known Transition Monitoring Group (“TMG”), which prides itself as the foremost independent citizen election observers group in Nigeria with over 400 members. One wonders why the Petitioners did not find it expedient to tender the so- called report of the TMG on Akwa Ibom Election but opted to tender the Police Report, which as it turned out contradicted and destroyed the entire case of the Petitioners.
“Dakuku Peterside, the APC candidate in the last gubernatorial election in Rivers State has gone further to specifically accuse Justice Mary Odili, JSC, of facilitating a determination of the court, ‘which was not a product of justice but rather a product of compromise and orchestrated contrivance to legalise electoral violence’. The allegation is symptomatic of the malaise and lack of decorum plaquing APC and its leaders. For how can anyone, other than a person of his ilk without any iota of value, deign to denigrate a person of proven superior quality like Justice Odili, and debase and desecrate the Supreme Court simply because he lost a case which was defective in construction and embarrassingly lacking in veracity?
“As if the denigration of the sanctity of the Supreme Court by the party hierarchy was not enough, the South South Executive of the party issued a very obnoxious statement calling on Mr. President to institute a high powered enquiry to ascertain the incorruptibility and sanctity of the Supreme Court’. The Chairman of the APC in Akwa Ibom State has also called for the probing of the apex. Nothing could be greater confirmation that the insanity plaguing the leadership of the party at the centre has trickled down the ranks. So the Supreme Court which survived even the most draconian military regimes in this country must be destroyed because APC could not take the oil producing states through sheer brigandage? Is othing beyond the realms of irresponsibility of power hungry, desperate, clueless and failed politicians?
“APC leaders have failed woefully to demonstrate the leadership, which their offices imbue on them. One thinks they would have waited for the Supreme Court to give the reasons for their decisions. Perhaps they need to learn the rudiments of democracy, which include the separation of powers of the three arms of government, respect for court decisions and grace in electoral defeat. For now, they have power without responsibility. It is sad and clearly explains why this country is wobbling under their leadership”.

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