FEATURE ARTICLE

Oteghe AdamsThursday, June 22, 2017
otesadams@yahoo.com
Benin City, Nigeria

EDO PDP: MANIFESTO OF DISASTROUS ELECTORAL LITIGATIONS

here are three dates that will remain indelible in the 2016/2017 repugnant history of Edo State PDP- 28th September 2016, 14th April 2017 and 9th June 2017 are days that will be concretized infamously for the PDP and celebrated by the rest of Edo citizenry as landmarks of democratic and peoples' liberation from the remnant of PDP political stranglehold. A sober calibration of the political and legal terrain will suggest that a 4th date will be unfolding when the PDP proceeds to the Supreme Court over the 2016 governorship election.

September 28th 2016 was the definitive day of the ultimate defeat and irredeemable dismantling of the PDP in the governorship contest between APC's Godwin ObasekI and Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the PDP. With superior organizational ability and the unshakable confidence of the electorate, APC secured an insurmountable and unquestionable margin of victory against the fractious and sinking opposition that was PDP. Despite the wholesome testimonies of respected independent local and foreign observers, the PDP decided to challenge the sacred and irreversible verdict of Edo electorate at the Election Petition Tribunal. After months of tragic drama to mislead the respected tribunal to embrace the hallucinatory tales of a PDP's victory, the panel ruled on April 14th that the APC duly, fairly and unarguably won the September 28th election.

The Election Petition Tribunal unequivocally stated in its ruling that the PDP failed to present any serious case or advance solid evidence of minimum probative value for the nullification of the election results. Leadership must be earned through some modicum of responsibility and regard for the followers of a group or the supposed leader. It would therefore be pertinent for instance for the PDP leaders to explain to their followers why the party curiously and suddenly abandoned the allegation of ''corruption'' in the governorship contest -this allegation was supposedly one of the major grounds, a critical aspect of the gravamen in the petition on which the PDP relied and boasted that the results of the election will be abrogated. Did the PDP abandon this complaint because the party lacked meritorious grounds on which to substantiate such an egregious and consequential allegation in the first instance? Is one to conclude that the PDP conceded before the Election Petition Tribunal that the 2016 Edo gubernatorial contest was corruption-free? Indeed, it was only a tiny fraction of the PDP that believed that there was any situation of corruption in the election-all credible testimonies from local and international observers and civil societies had described the process of Governor Obaseki's emergence as peaceful, free, fair and transparent. Equally intriguing was the decision of the PDP to present ONLY 92 of the 824 witnesses that party had initially exhibited and trumpeted as potential star witnesses for the tribunal hearing. Did the PDP mysteriously lose confidence in the credibility of about 700 witnesses whose depositions were initially selected and filed by the party before the Election Tribunal? Quite incredulous was also the attempt by the PDP to use ward collation agents to testify as witnesses for what happened at the polling units-there was no way that those collation agents could have been simultaneously present in two locations on the day of election. Evidently, the entire petition of the PDP was irretrievably infested with legal shoddiness and probative deficits.

The Election Tribunal obviously saw through the legal acrobatics and litigious shenanigan of the PDP and rightfully dismissed Ize-Iyamu's petition on April 14th 2017. The streets of Edo State witnessed spontaneous jubilation by mass of the citizenry following reaffirmation of the September 28th peoples' verdict. Edo people in their huge majority had hoped that the verdict was the end of the litigious tragic drama, not so for the PDP leaders.

Consequently, for the third time and in bizarre fidelity to the self aggrandizing manifesto of Ize-Iyamu's battle against Democracy, the factional leaders of the PDP decided that they would proceed to the Court of Appeal-and so they did! It was my humble and confident prediction then that the PDP governorship candidate ( Ize-Iyamu) and the party chairman ( Dan Orbih) would go on appeal as a surreptitious means of questing for political relevance. It was also clear from the studious observations of a wide range of impartial legal minds that the PDP's case was genetically starved of merits and was bound to ultimately collapse. But the duo of Ize-Iyamu and Dan Orbih was determined to keep administering the dope of hope to their supporters, to string the miniscule formation of the PDP along in the delusion that the PDP leadership had a mandate to reclaim. What mandate could there be for the PDP gubernatorial candidate in an election where he ( Ize-Iyamu) glaringly lost 13 out of the 18 local Government Areas of the state. Such wishful bliss and grandiose hallucination of the PDP is birthed in the party's culture of impunity, a characteristic ingrained in the sociology of 'harvesting where one did not cultivate'.

As predicted, the Appeal Court on Friday, 9th June in Benin-City upheld the verdict of the Election Petition Tribunal; the Appeal Court arrived at the same conclusion with the Tribunal that Governor Obaseki and the APC were the undisputed legitimate winners of the 2016 election. The Appeal Court Judges declared that the conclusion of the tribunal was unassailable. The Appellate court was unequivocal in remarking that the '' tribunal carried out a painstaking, detailed and clear considerations of all aspects of the Appellant's case''. It almost seems that the miniscule supporters of the PDP have begun to regain consciousness in the tunnel of endless litigation in which they are being pulled- a huge fraction of the PDP die-hard who were regularly at the venue of the Election Petition Tribunal stayed away from the proceedings of the Appeal Court and were conspicuously absent on the day of the verdict. For APC supporters and Edo citizenry at large, the verdict of the Appeal Court engendered a feeling of ecstatic empowerment that peoples' votes and election matter in Nigerian polity. Governor Obaseki in reaction to the jubilation of the party's massive supporters said that '' the judgment will engender an acceleration of the ongoing projects for the emergence of a stronger and more prosperous Edo State economy for the benefit of all''.

But the factional leadership of Edo PDP with Dan Orbih and Ize-Iyamu will not terminate their train of litigious adventure, I predict that they would proceed to the Supreme Court- the duo should as they are constitutionally entitled. However, the outcome of such a journey is almost guaranteed to end in disaster. The people have delivered their resolution- two separate courts have affirmed the electoral verdict of Edo voters as freely and fairly expressed-there is no legal possibility or political plausibility for the nullification of the September 2016 gubernatorial election. No magic will come forth no matter how long the PDP vegetates on the' litigation plantation'.

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