By Oteghe Adams
THE current situation over the 2016 Edo governorship election obligates those with privileged capacities to engender an atmosphere of nobility of thought and higher sense of service –such persons should earnestly endeavour to advance the collective aspiration of the society instead of the shenanigans of economic and political cabals.
The continuous tragic drama of Edo PDP in crisscrossing between the tribunal and the appellate court in search of electoral miracles is a matter requiring such collective reflection. Unfortunately, the petitioners in this circumstance seem to be more inclined to the craftiness of political magic and less of providential miracle.
While some political elite could endlessly squander time and resources in litigious misadventure, the mass of the people are now justifiably focused on accelerated developmental agenda for the Edo polity. Perhaps, it is the remarkable difference between PDP fantasy and realistic public perception that has caused such a putrid noxiousness and embarrassing unpopularity for the endless litigation of PDP over the 2016 election.
I cannot recall any election petition process in Nigeria’s recent history that is so widely discounted and abysmally low in the estimation of decently literate electorate and the society as a whole. Even beyond the lay public, most non-partisan legal observers are dismissive of the PDP legal efforts as an exotic judicial bagatelle.
When popular candidates go to tribunals to challenge results of elections, particularly governorship contests, one could feel the pulsating rumble of people’s support for the litigation. On the contrary, in the case of the PDP governorship candidate, Ize-Iyamu, there has been a precipitous drop in whatever support, he had initially. Even among the miniscule support base that the PDP supposedly controls, the attempt to mobilise them for protest against the verdict of the tribunal on April 14th was a miserable failure.
Most of the PDP members have become fatigued from the legal rigmaroles. Unlike their leaders, the ordinary members of the PDP have honestly reconciled themselves with the unalterable fact that the PDP fairly and squarely lost 13 local governments of the 18 in Edo State during the governorship election with an aggregate of 70,000 vote gap between the APC and PDP.
Despite entreaties from some distinguished non-partisan Edo citizens for Ize-Iyamu to finally accept the reality of defeat with grace and dignity following the tribunal’s ruling on April 14,the PDP candidate has taken another flight to the Court of Appeal and, predictably, Ize-Iyamu will never listen to those voices of reason – he could soon be on another leap to the Supreme Court.
My counsel is that the PDP candidate should be allowed to cruise in his fantasy adventure, the circuitous gyration will amount to nothing because the entire case itself is a ‘much ado about nothing’. Every respectable analysis of this matter underscores the woeful deficits in the points of law and evidentiary anemia afflicting the PDP’s case.
Most knowledgeable and impartial observers fully agree with the tribunal’s finding that ‘’ On the whole, the petitioners (Ize-Iyamu and the PDP) have not by any credible evidence proved their case and have failed to show that they are entitled to their reliefs’’. How could the PDP have presented any shred of evidence of probative consequence? After all, even the initial idea of a 2016 PDP gubernatorial victory was totally hallucinatory, there was no mathematical feasibility or political plausibility for such a projection, so the figures and alleged complaints that were presented by the PDP to the tribunal were nothing but orchestrated and hollow tales.
Consequently, when the distinguished lordships subjected the case by Ize-Iyamu to the crucible of evidence and law in the temple of justice, the PDP suit crumbled rapidly from foundational deficit. From Etsako to Egor, from Owan to Ikpoba Okha and from Igueben to Oredo Local Government Areas, a considerable number of the witnesses called by the PDP were discredited as incompetent and unbelievable when they took the stand. It was embarrassing that most of PDP agents who were ward collation representatives were being twisted by the party to testify to what happened in various polling units.
The tribunal ruled that such agents were not super humans and, could not therefore provide direct testimonies of the happenings at the polling units, since they could not have been simultaneously present in multiple locations and units on the day of the election.
It is also intriguing that the PDP called only 92 witnesses out of the 824 whose depositions that the party had filed along with the original petition. What must have caused the petitioners to so dramatically shrink the list of those who eventually ended up on the witness stand where their words could be corroborated and evaluated for probative value?
Was it that the party suddenly lost confidence in the competence and credibility of the 732 of these potential witnesses on whom the party originally depended? One other major issue that received critical attention of the tribunal was the astounding failure of the PDP to conclusively pursue its initial allegation of corrupt practices during the gubernatorial contest.
It was puzzling that the PDP would midway during the tribunal proceedings suddenly abandoned the allegation of corruption just as the party failed to specifically claim any relief for nullification of the election based on such allegation. Will the PDP attempt to re-litigate and redeem these kinds of fatal errors at the appeal level? It should be said that even where the PDP does attempt such a crafty reconstruction of its case, the endeavour will still collapse from the sloppy structure of credible evidence.
As the PDP and the lead petitioner begin another litigious journey, the people of Edo State will stay focused on what is most important to the progress of their polity. PDP’s attempt to alter the manifest destiny of Edo people as resoundingly expressed on September 28th 2016 and reaffirmed by the tribunal remains sacrosanct.