Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
FG will not interfere with judiciary, says ruling party
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday claimed that it had uncovered a plot by the All Progressives Congress APC)-led administration to tinker with the composition of the election tribunals in Rivers and other PDP states and to substitute them with pliable judges to overturn the party’s victory in the last general elections.
The party said it had “concrete evidence that the APC administration in its desperation was set to transfer uncooperative tribunal judges and replace them with malleable ones to overturn PDP’s electoral victory in Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Abia, Taraba and Delta States and hand them over to the APC.”
Addressing journalists at the party’s secretariat Tuesday, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, said: “Following the insistence by some tribunal judges on delivering justice, despite the pressure being mounted by the APC government, machineries have been put in motion to influence the outcome of the judicial process by replacing them with those already briefed to do the bidding of the APC government.”
He further alerted that “part of the plot is to use the Department of State Security (DSS) and some unscrupulous officials of the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to tamper with official records of evidence and other electoral documents in INEC’s custody for presentation at the tribunals, which would be manned by the compromised judicial officials.”
“We have uncovered an unholy alliance between the DSS and INEC to interfere directly in the activities of election tribunals in some PDP states by removing and altering some records in INEC and instigating the APC to insist that there were no elections in those states.”
The PDP scribe said after the elections, the former INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, insisted and showed to the world that there were governorship elections in Rivers, Abia, Taraba, Akwa-Ibom and Delta States.
However, Metuh alleged that upon prodding by the APC, the DSS and INEC are already interfering with the electoral process by using some persons in INEC to doctor the results and change the true position of affairs regarding the elections in these states.
“Secondly, we want to inform the nation that any moment from now, some tribunal judges in these states have been marked for transfer. We had earlier informed Nigerians that the DSS was already meeting with some INEC and tribunal officials ostensibly to compromise the process.
“Now we have found out that because some tribunal members were not cooperating, they have concluded plans to replace them with pliable ones. The PDP is alerting the entire nation and the international community of this devious development, which is a direct assault on our democracy.
“You will recall that we have always patiently explained situations that are dangerous to the progress and sustenance of democracy in this country. This is one of them. This is a coup against democracy. The question is, why are they interfering with the process and why would they want to remove judges after they have started hearing the cases?
“The PDP insists that the judiciary should not be interfered with, and should be allowed to play its role in our democracy. The APC should stop harassing, intimidating or attempting to remove judges who are not responding to their dirty tricks
“We insist on the sanctity of the process and caution strongly that we will not accept any move by any person whatsoever to undermine the will of the people and rob us of our well deserved electoral victory in these states,” the party said.
Metuh said the PDP had earlier raised the alarm on the issue of the Director General of the DSS, being an APC member, and that the APC put up a denial only to be silenced when it came up with evidences including pictures and publications showing his affinity with the party.
In the same vein, he said the party also raised the issue of nepotism in the illegal appointment of an acting Chairman of INEC, a position unknown to the nation’s constitution, the APC presented a lame denial only also to be silenced after it presented evidences of nepotism.
While directing its members and all well-meaning Nigerians to be on the alert, the PDP urged the judiciary to ensure that it is not compromised by the APC-led government to go against the law.
However, the APC said the federal government will not micromanage the judiciary.
The party urged the PDP to stop denigrating the judiciary by suggesting that tribunal judges handling the various election petitions in some states can be influenced.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the APC said the PDP was throwing wild allegations against the tribunals in Rivers and other states because the party knows it stole the votes in those states.
‘’The affected states are the cash cows of the PDP, hence the party is so jittery about losing the states, which they know they did not win in the first instance.
‘’We have confidence in the ability of the tribunals to carry out their duties diligently and without fear or favour. We implore the PDP to be charitable enough to repose the same confidence in the tribunals,’’ it said
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