Again, APC, PDP duel over A’Ibom election tribunal


INEC ballot box

THE National Publicity Secretary of All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has implored the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to repose confidence in the nation’s judiciary and stop ‘peddling lies’ about the work of the Akwa Ibom Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and the role of the security agencies.

The APC’s advice came against the backdrop of the petition filed by its governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom State, Umana Umana to challenge conduct of the election and declaration of Udom Emmanuel of the PDP winner of the poll.

Speaking during a press conference in Lagos yesterday, APC urged the PDP to deploy its energy “to make their case at the tribunal instead of whipping up emotions and sentiments that have nothing to do with reality.”

The APC also urged Nigerians to strongly and dispassionately scrutinize the issues it has raised before the tribunal “especially the evidence of what the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials, working in cahoots with the PDP, did to the ballot papers used for the last general elections in Akwa Ibom, to see whether the electoral officials adhered strictly to the INEC manual for the 2015 elections.

The party however appealed to its teeming and loyal members and supporters to remain peaceful but vigilant, and to repose their confidence in the ability of the tribunal to do justice to the petition.

The party further accused the PDP of engaging in what it described as an orchestrated campaign of misinformation on the proceedings at the tribunal, as well as embarked on a calculated move to denigrate the security agencies, especially the Department of Security Services (DSS).

Stating what it considered as the true situation, APC posited that the DSS recently invited the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Austin Okojie, and some other officials working under him to “help in their investigation into the discovery that the commission had destroyed and attempted to destroy evidence in petitions before the tribunals by shredding ballot papers, immersing them in water, mixing them all up and stuffing them in jute bags which are then left out in the open at the mercy of the elements, contrary to the clear instruction of INEC manual for election officers.”

The party also denied having fore knowledge of the invasion of Akwa Ibom Government House, saying: “We in the APC are not privy to the reasons for the DSS’ search of the Akwa Ibom Government House. However, we have no doubt that the security agency acted within its area of competence and authority.”

But the PDP said that the APC had confirmed its culpability in a number of “anti-democratic actions of government agencies lately, particularly the invasion of Akwa-Ibom State government house and interferences in the activities of that state’s election tribunal.”

The PDP said in bringing out himself, through a press conference yesterday to attempt to explain the “unlawful actions of the DSS,” the APC spokesman, only succeeded in confirming that his party and the Federal Government, under President Muhammadu Buhari, are behind the invasion and the hounding of election officials to compromise the Akwa-Ibom tribunal and feloniously take over the state.

PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, in a statement said it has noted the “weak attempt by the APC to defend the indefensible,” stating that only “a desperate attempt at political shoplifting would drive the APC to engage in a miscarried effort to cover its culpability, by seeking to defend the condemnable actions of the DSS, a security and statutory apolitical organization, which has its
internal system of public communication.”

“Our take is that the truth may be hidden for sometime, but it has a way of expressing itself to shame the guilty. We ask, what other reasons, other than a desperate cover up, would push a spokesman of a political party to stand in the gap to explain away the actions of the DSS when the security organization, has its own spokesperson and existing system of public communication?

“Is this not a confirmation of the fact that the DSS, under the direct command of an APC member, Alhaji Lawal Kaura, as Director-General has since been politically annexed and working in cahoots with the leadership of the APC in its illegal operations in Akwa-Ibom and other PDP states?

“In fact, the contradictions in the claims in Alhaji Mohammed’s press conference betray it all. In trying to explain the invasion of the Akwa-Ibom state government house on behalf of the DSS, the APC chief propagandist controverted himself when he said, ‘we in the APC are not privy to the reasons for the DSS’ search of the Akwa Ibom Government House. However, we have no doubt that the security agency acted within its area of competence and authority.’

“Severally in the past, we have exposed the APC spokesman in terms of lying to deceive the nation. Recall that in May this year, Lai Mohammed nearly scuttled the transition programme when he issued a false statement alleging that the APC team was being frustrated, only for the head of the APC’s Transition Committee, Alhaji Ahmed Joda to announce that there was nothing of such.

“This is the same APC National Publicity Secretary, who in June 2014 issued a statement alleging that a plane carrying Kano state Governor
Rabiu Kwankwaso to attend an APC rally in Ekiti was denied landing permission in Akure, only for Kwankwaso’s Director of Press Affairs, Baba Dantiye to announce that his boss was at another event in Kano and had no plans to travel to Ekiti State.”

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