In what political watchers and observers regard as a dangerous twist to the crisis rocking the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike has dragged the party to court over the May 28 and 29 presidential primary election that was held in Abuja, the federal capital territory (FCT).
Metrobusinessnews.com heNewsGuru.com (MBN) reports that the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/782/2022 has Governor Wike and a PDP chieftain, Newgent Ekamon as the plaintiffs, while the PDP is listed as the first respondent in the originating summons.
Also listed in the originating summons are the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the 2nd respondent, the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal and Atiku Abubakar as the 3rd and 4th respondents respectively.
The presidential election of the party held in May returned Atiku as the presidential candidate of the PDP after polling 371 delegate votes. Wike emerged second with 237 votes and former Senate President Bukola Saraki emerged third with 70 votes.
During the presidential primary, Governor Tambuwal had asked delegates to vote for him but later returned to the podium to announce his withdrawal from the race, asking delegates loyal to him to cast their votes for Atiku instead.
After the convention, the National Chairman of the PDP, Iyorchia Ayu, described Tambuwal as the “hero of the convention.”
After the primary, Atiku was allegedly advised to pick Wike as his running mate.
However, the former Vice-President decided to nominate Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate, a move that deepened the already brewing crisis in the party.
In the originating summons, Wike and his co-applicant asked the court to determine eight issues including whether the purported transfer of Tambuwal’s votes to Atiku by the PDP was illegal and void. The plaintiffs asked the court to determine if Tambuwal lost his claim to votes the moment he stepped down for Atiku.
The applicants also prayed the court to declare that the PDP and Atiku took undue advantage of Tambuwal’s withdrawal when they allowed the Sokoto governor to persuade delegates to vote for the former Vice-President in the primary.
Wike and Ekamon asked the court to order INEC to reject or remove Atiku from “its list of candidates in the 2023 presidential election.” They are also seeking an order commanding the PDP to recount the votes of the primary that was held on May 28 and May 29.
Lastly, the applicants are seeking an order of the court “directing the 1st respondent (PDP) to declare the 2nd applicant (Wike), a presidential aspirant in the May 28 and May 29 primary as the winner of the aforesaid primary with a corresponding order directing the 1st respondent (PDP) to forward his name as the candidate to contest the presidential election in 2023.”
In a supporting affidavit he deposed to, Ekamon noted that he was a member of the PDP and attested to the fact that Wike won the presidential election. He maintained that Tambuwal withdrew from the contest after voting had commenced and directed that his votes be assigned to Atiku.
“The third respondent (Tambuwal) speaking twice before stepping down from the contest, persuaded all his delegates who were going to vote for him to vote for the 4th respondent (Atiku).
“The 1st (PDP) and 4th (Atiku) respondents who also wanted the votes desperately agreed with the 3rd (Tambuwal) and assigned 3rd (Tambuwal) respodnent’s votes to the 4th (Atiku) respondent and increased his votes to win the 2nd applicant (Wike).
“The 2nd applicant (Wike) won the primaries if the votes of the 3rd respondent (Tambuwal) had not been transferred or assigned to the 4th respondent (Atiku)”.
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According to PUNCH, the court processes had been served on the PDP at its Wadata Plaza headquarters located at Wuse Zone 5 while a copy had also been delivered to Atiku’s Campaign office in Maitama and the Sokoto State Government’s Liaison Office by the court bailiff.