APC’s Lust For PDP States May Torpedo Democracy — Gov Ishaku
Taraba State Governor, Darius Dickson Ishaku, told journalists in Abuja, including AZMAZI MOMOH JIMOH; that the desperation by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to take over states won by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) represents a new threat to democracy in Nigeria.
On the ruling of Taraba Governorship Election Petition Tribunal
THE verdict was not only a surprise, but also total disappointment in view of the fact that the main issues before the Tribunal were not considered, except for the promotion of trivialities. As a matter of fact, the issues before the tribunal were purely election issues, but regrettably, the tribunal in its judgment picked a pre-election issue. By this singular act, one can easily conclude that certain interests are coming to bear in the judgment.
It is a calculated attempt to deprive me of the people’s mandate to lead them. I contested the primaries under the platform of the PDP and won. I was presented with the party’s flag as a mark of recognition as its candidate for the last polls. Therefore, it will be out of place for someone or the tribunal to insinuate in its judgment that I never contested the primary or I was not the valid candidate of the party.
Why the PDP primary did not take place in Taraba
Truly speaking, the PDP primaries did not hold in Taraba. The PDP resolved to conduct the primaries in Abuja, the Federal Capital on security grounds. Emphatically, during the period of the primaries, Taraba was experiencing security challenges, which as a result informed the conduct in Abuja to avert any breakdown of law and other.
Whether the tribunal sitting in Abuja justified the governorship primary out of Taraba
I must confess that the action of the tribunal to shift its sitting from Jalingo, the Taraba State capital as provided for by the Electoral Act to Abuja on security grounds is not different from what the PDP did during the conduct of its primaries. In view of the foregoing, I feel justified. Issues of insecurity are not issues that can be taken for granted because human lives cannot be compromised for anything, election inclusive.
On INEC official’s testimony denying presence at PDP primary
Although I don’t think the testimony of the INEC official at the tribunal played a role in the verdict, I am optimistic there was a ploy to undo me by bringing into play the issue of primary and leaving out the election, which is the main issue at stake. Sometimes, actions like this, exhibited by the tribunal on this case, leave more to be desired as justice was thwarted outright to promote certain interests at the expense of democratic principles. That is why many people are condemning the verdict.
On feelings about public reaction to the judgment
I am not surprised or perplexed by the sporadic general reaction in many quarters concerning the judgment of the tribunal. Many people, including educated and non-educated, believe the tribunal erred in law by picking or dealing with pre-election issues rather than the election, which was the main issue that was brought before it. To be candid, the last election was won by me in a landslide after having fulfilled the requirements as prescribed by the law. The PDP on which platform I won the last general election had earlier presented my name to INEC as its sole candidate and it was on this basis that I was cleared to contest the polls. The PDP had only one primary and I was the candidate.
On PDP’s fears of possible arm twisting of opposition
Yes, I share this sentiment in view of the prevailing circumstances. There is growing anxiety across the nation, particularly by the PDP supporters that the APC ruling government is scheming hard to muzzle out the opposition party by unfair means; like quashing of elections of the party’s candidates in Rivers, Taraba and Akwa Ibom states. Apart from the use of the tribunal there are also other unfair means such as use of anti-corruption agencies to hunt down PDP members. This scenario is not healthy for the nation’s nascent democracy.
On how loss of cases at the tribunals would affect democracy in Nigeria
Yes! It is true that the PDP, which is the opposition party, is losing lots of cases at the tribunals. This development is already impacting negatively on the development of democracy in Nigeria. If we can consider the issue critically, we can conclude by saying that there is flagrant abuse of democratic principles in the entire process. This also means that there is no future for those in the opposition in Nigeria, since the judiciary, which is supposed to be the last hope of the common man and that of the less privileged is not being fair to other parties.
There is growing anxiety across the nation, particularly by the PDP supporters that the APC ruling government is scheming hard to muzzle out the opposition party by unfair means; like quashing of elections of the party’s candidates in Rivers, Taraba and Akwa Ibom states. Apart from the use of the tribunal there are also other unfair means such as use of anti-corruption agencies to hunt down PDP members
On his appeal
It is true that many people expected me to appeal the judgment on the grounds that it does not reflect justice as provided for in law. As a result of this action, coupled with my personal conviction that justice was not given by the tribunal in my case, I have decided to appeal the judgment to get justice as well as defend the people’s mandate at the polls. Believe me, the action of the tribunal was totally a judicial rape, which could also be called judicial rascality given the antics of such judgment.
On APC’s charge that the judgment represents PDP’s price for impunity
The insinuation by APC that PDP is paying for impunity is false. PDP laid the foundation for sustainable democratic practice on the principles of law and good governance and as such cannot be accused of impunity after losing power to the APC despite the characteristics and other factors that came to play during the last election.
Message to Tarabans
My message is simple and direct. Since election is not made to divide or fan the embers of disunity or disaffection among the people, but a means of selection or election of leaders for effective leadership for the attainment of developmental goals, it therefore behoves on the people to remain calm and law abiding during and after every issue involving litigation. I am appealing to the people of Taraba State to adhere strictly to the rule of law, which guarantees peaceful living beneficial to all and sundry. I will not relent in pursuing peace with all men, including my enemies so that a platform that will guarantee good development could be actualised.