Anambra Poll: PDP makes U-turn, backs Nwoye's suit challenging APGA’s victory
In what appears to be a sudden change of tactics, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has thrown its weight behind the court action taken by its candidate in the Anambra governorship poll Tony Nwoye against the victory of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in the election.
Nwoye is challenging the victory of Willie Obiano of APGA in the November 16 election.
His All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart in the election, Dr. Chris Ngige, has also sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and four others at the state Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Awka, the state capital.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olisa Metuh, in a statement yesterday described the action of the candidate as a 'step in the right direction and an acceptance of the directive of the National Working Committee earlier communicated to him to pursue the mandate in accordance with established democratic procedures and rules.”
The PDP headquarters had shortly after the result of the election was announced congratulated Mr. Obiano for the victory. The party had also been accused by its former leader, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) of working for the APGA candidate in the election.
The earlier position of the PDP was in contrast with that of Mr. Nwoye who alleged irregularities in the conduct of the poll and therefore refused to congratulate the declared winner and instead challenged the outcome of the election. Mr. Nwoye also boycotted the supplementary election conducted to decide the eventual winner of the governorship poll. 'The PDP is totally committed to democracy and electoral processes as stipulated by the constitution and laws of our land. This explains why we remained steadfast to the processes outlined for the Anambra governorship election and the reason for our earlier stand and directive to our candidate and members to participate in the supplementary election as directed by INEC.
'As a party committed to strengthening the institution of democracy, we believe that due process must be followed at all times to allow the laws and electoral rules run their full courses without any interruption. It is in this regard that we commend our candidate for conforming to the ideals of our great party in seeking redress at the right time and through the appropriate democratic channel,' the statement said. Expressing optimism that 'justice will prevail at the end of the day', the statement said the PDP 'remains impressed by Nwoye's credible outing, resilience and grassroots appeal which brought him to the forefront in the race despite having only two weeks to campaign.'
Meanwhile, Ngige has sued INEC and four others at the tribunal over the outcome of the election.
Also joined as respondents in the petition instituted by Ngige and APC are the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for the state, Prof. Chukwuemeka Onukogu; APGA, Obiano and the Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD). However, the tribunal has ordered that Obiano and APGA be served by substituted means by pasting the petition on the tribunal's notice board.
The order was made on December 22 while the respondents were expected to respond within 14 days.
Nwoye had also filed a petition at the tribunal. Nwoye was one of those disenfranchised during the election, as he and several members of his family did not find their names on the voters' register, though they had their voters' cards. In the petition filed by their counsel, Messrs Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), George Uwechue (SAN) and Emeka Ngige (SAN) among others, APC and Ngige are asking the tribunal to nullify the election, claiming that it was vitiated by substantial non-compliance with mandatory statutory requirements and irregularities and that 'none of the candidates in the said election was entitled to be returned.'
The petitioners said they were aggrieved with the declaration of Obiano as the winner of the election and argued that while the APGA candidate did not satisfy the mandatory requirements of the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act, 2010, the election was conducted in a manner which was manifestly and substantially not in compliance with the provisions of the constitution and the Electoral Act.
As a result, the petitioners have prayed the tribunal to declare that Obiano was not duly elected or returned and that his election was void. They are also asking the tribunal to determine that the use of an invalid voters' register rendered the election and the supplementary poll, held on November 30 invalid by reason of non-compliance with provisions of Electoral Act.
Ngige and APC are also seeking a declaration that the election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices and/or non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act and that Obiano was not qualified to contest the questioned election as the APGA candidate.
The plaintiffs are also asking the tribunal to declare that Obiano was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election and that the APGA candidate did not receive 25 percent of votes cast in two-thirds of the 21 local councils of Anambra State as required by the 1999 Constitution.
The petitioners therefore seek a declaration by the tribunal that 'the election and return of the third respondent be nullified and a fresh election be ordered amongst the parties and candidates who contested the said election save the third and fourth respondents.'