PDP governors okay appeal



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PDP governors okay appeal

PEOPLES Democratic Party (PDP) governors have given their backing to the decision of the party’s 2019 presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar to appeal the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal’s judgment upholding President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory.



The PDP Governors Forum said the tribunal stood justice on its head in the September 11 verdict.

It added that if the verdict is not challenged at the Supreme Court, it may have far-reaching implications for Nigeria’s democracy.



In a statement by its Chairman and Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson, the Forum said the tribunal’s judgment attempted to lay a faulty moral foundation for future generations.

The governors said: “After painstakingly and prudently understudying the line after line tenets of the judgment, several holes were picked and countless anomalies identified by us.

”We would be doing a greater disservice and moral injustice to our party, our democracy and Nigerians in general if we turn blind eyes, swallow such bile and applaud that rape of justice.

”The judgment, to say the least, has further painted our judiciary with darker colours; only this time around with a never-before-seen blemished coat of tar.

”However, we are hopeful that the Supreme Court will re-write that history by ensuring that such stains and tar are removed from our judicial archives.

“The apex court should know that its integrity is at stake and in order to avoid it been shredded to particles, must employ all known technicalities to save our nation and the future of Nigerians yet unborn from a development that may further make us a perpetual laughing stock amongst the comity of nations.”

The Forum said Nigerians were very hopeful that the tribunal’s “wrongs” will be made right by the Supreme Court.

“Without any iota of trepidation, it is most paramount for us to once more restate and reconfirm our undiluted loyalty, deserving support and maximum commitment to our great party and the Atiku-Obi presidential ticket.

“This is our stand, now and in the future. Posterity would judge us harshly if we did otherwise,” the governors added.

The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) also faulted the judgment.

In a statement by its leader Uchenna Madu to commemorate its 20th anniversary, MASSOB said Nigerians expected a different outcome from the tribunal.

It said the “lamentations and wailings of millions of Nigerians across the globe” in reaction to the verdict showed that justice was not seen to have been done.

MASSOB said the anniversary was to remember those who died for the cause of Biafra.

MASSOB restated its commitment to continue its agitation for an independent state of Biafra.

“Biafra is the answer to the slavery Nigeria subjected Ndi Igbo to, ranging from political, economic, academic, religious, cultural and social slavery.

“These undeniable realities are the reasons the Nigerian state is afraid of Biafra, which represents the truth they cannot legitimately counter.

“Biafra speaks of the truth Nigeria know they are guilty of, so out of weakness and fear, Nigeria resorts to repressions, persecutions, killings and detention of Biafran agitators,” the statement added.

A human rights group, the Access to Justice, urged electoral courts to shift their approach to determining petitions in order to protect the integrity of the electoral process.

In a statement by its Convener Joseph Otteh, the group said it was concerned that the presidential election tribunal’s inquiry was significantly coloured by the application of technical rules of evidence to an electoral complaint.

The group said there was less of an overarching desire to interrogate the transparency and integrity of the February elections and to hold the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) accountable for its actions or inactions.

“This is not entirely blame on the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC). Nigeria’s electoral jurisprudence places too heavy an emphasis on the adversarial technique and its technicalities even in electoral decision-making.

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“This is not a good framework for exercising the court’s role in safeguarding Nigeria’s fragile democracy and needs to change.

“When an electoral court insists on ‘proof beyond reasonable doubt’, which is a standard applicable to the adjudication of criminal cases, in order to prove that voter figures were tempered with, the court raises the bar for reaching the truth about the integrity of the elections conducted and the fairness of its process and outcome and makes it harder to ascertain whether announced results were derived from actual votes cast in an election.”

Access to Justice noted that in civil cases, the thresholds are not that high, and the courts accept the principle of the “preponderance of evidence”.

It said there is a compelling and strategic need for making this burden even lighter, not heavier, in electoral cases.

“The court’s approach, therefore, ultimately inclines towards suppressing the truth and keeping it buried under the rubric of the high thresholds it has set.

“This makes it harder for electoral courts to play their watchdog roles of restoring and reinforcing the choices made by the electorate.

“In the end, legalism defeats justice, while ‘democracy’ and the electorate are the ultimate losers.

“Access to Justice does not in any way imply that the truth of the claims advanced by the petitioners in this case was buried in the hubris of legal or evidential technicalities.

“We think rather that our courts’ philosophy of electoral adjudication needs to be reconceptualised and reconstructed to realign it better to the need to both protect Nigeria’s fledgling democracy and the electoral process.

“It will as well help it hold electoral bodies accountable for delivering free, fair and transparent elections.”

PDP governors okay appeal

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