RIVERS PDP: WE DO NOT ACCEPT CONGRATULATORY MESSAGES FROM LIARS AND IGNORANCE-INSPIRED MISCHIEF MAKERS
The Rivers APC 2023 Campaign Council has been inundated with calls from the media and concerned Rivers people over the message of congratulations sent to our great party by the Rivers PDP campaign Council on Tuesday. We could have laughed off the mischievous expression of goodwill by the factional PDP but for the inherent collateral damage our silence to their lies, ignorance and mischief may cause.
We wish to state for the umpteenth time that the 2023 general elections in Rivers State is about issues and not prancing about the political turf like clowns. It cannot be about dancing around with a confused reading of judicial proceedings to entertain a crowd of partisans who are indoctrinated enough to believe that as Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike can do and get away with anything because he exists above the Constitution and the laws of the land.
Our mission here is to clear the doubts the cluttered message of the factional PDP set out to create. Our duty is borne out of an obligation the APC owes Rivers State and her people to dispel such doubts.
It is sufficient to state from the onset that we are saddled with the burden of ignorance by a party whose government is very good at subversion of legal due process. It is not surprising that a Spokesman for the so-called Consolidation of a New Rivers Vision where the commissioning of projects constructed in complete defiance of the Public Procurement Law of Rivers State is celebrated as Nobel Prize achievements. Where that Spokesman now, unfortunately, thinks that his party can draw mileage from selling propaganda about the withdrawal of our suit in FHC/PH/CS/239/2022 (All Progressives Congress v. Independent National Electoral Commission & Ors).
Law and the practice thereof follows due process. We cannot continue speaking to the deliberately deaf PDP to force an understanding that it is within our rights to file or withdraw the suit challenging the obnoxious Executive Orders 21 and 22 promulgated by Governor Wike. We cannot continue to tutor those who call us names out of sheer ignorance that no cost was imposed on us by this withdrawal as is the case where a Plaintiff has wasted precious judicial time with a frivolous action.
The Peoples Democratic Party, particularly the faction that Wike leads, cannot congratulate the leadership of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State following our decision to withdraw the suit we filed to challenge Executive Orders 21 and 22. In fact, it is the height of mischief for the factional PDP, speaking through Ogbonna Nwuke, to congratulate us for withdrawing a suit they called “clueless” out of abundance of ignorance.
The factional PDP exhibited quantum ignorance through the Spokesman for the so-called Consolidation of the New Rivers Vision Campaign Council, in their reaction to our withdrawal. We believe that Mr. Nwuke could only aver that our withdrawal “was borne out of the understanding that the matter brought before Justice Emmanuel Obile was frivolous, defective and baseless” for two reasons.
The first is, his faction of the PDP was not disciplined enough to read the processes we filed or their confused faction’s reply in defence.
Secondly, our suit in objection to the draconian Executive Orders were dubbed “frivolous and inconsequential” because the factional PDP neither considered the regulations embedded in Executive Orders 21 and 22 nor the relevant Sections of the Constitution, the Electoral Act and the Rules of the Federal High Court pursuant to which we brought our action to spot the consequences of the legal inconsistencies.
For purposes of clarity, let it be known that the APC in Rivers State is a political party of men and women of character. We are not given to frivolity or an incredible hunt for power. We do not cry wolf where there is none and therefore do not belong to the failed categorization by the factional PDP which sought in vain to impeach our integrity through insinuations that in withdrawing we “told the truth”; a truth they say is our deliberate attempt to have public opinion misled “by going to court”. Nothing can be further from the Truth!!
The APC as the major opposition party in Rivers State had at all material times led the opposition to Wike’s irresponsible and wasteful leadership of the State. We have exercised our constitutional duty through the years with decorum and an indisputable sense of patriotism. In tandem with our established culture of civilized engagement with the government of the day, we filed an action at the Federal High Court to challenge the repressive Executive Orders 21 and 22.
We also planned a peaceful protest march against the Orders to hold on Thursday, the 24th of November 2022. We wrote to the Police for security protection of the march. That letter dated the 17th of November 2022 was replied by the Commissioner of Police on the 21st of November 2022 through Chief Superintendent of Police Esiaba Stanley Chiagozie wherein the Police declined our request and, instead, advised that we “approach the Court first for a reversal of the Orders”.
It is apposite to state that as a party not given to self help, every action we have taken to address the perfidy which those Executive Orders represent has been properly guided. We withdrew the suit when the circumstances of the cause of action changed in the manner and fashion we called off the march after the Police declined our request.
Curiously, while the suit was already subjudice before Justice Emmanuel A. Obile, the PDP Rivers State Government, in her characteristic disregard for legal due process and disrespect for other institutions of Government, flouted the doctrine of separation of powers by causing her rubber stamp State House of Assembly to hurriedly legislate on the subjects of Executive Orders 21 and 22 and pass the Rivers State Advertisement, Use of State owned Property, etc (Prohibition) Law 2022. This singular action was calculated by Wike’s government to force a fait accompli on the suit before Justice Obile. For sake of emphasis, with the new law clearly prohibiting the same subjects from which the cause of action in our suit challenging the said Executive Orders arose, it became expedient that we withdraw to re-strategize on how best to deal with the flagrant rape on the constitutional rights of citizens of Rivers State in the respective political parties to campaign for votes across the State without a dissipation of our energy elsewhere.
To those who say there “was never any substance in the suit”, we sympathize with their ignorance. They do not know that our suit is not a pre-election matter and therefore cannot receive the speed of hearing and determination to grant the reliefs we sought. They may pretend not to know but we cannot afford to allow the 2023 campaign calendar run out on the suit without attaining the desired goals. The grant of the reliefs sought when they become legally impotent and merely academic would not cure the wrong embedded in the respective Executive Orders. Thus, when they question what “strategic reasons” lie behind our decision to pull out of Court, or ask like primary school kids what is “strategic in telling lies”, we have no option but pity their baleful ignorance.
In the circumstance, the Rivers APC 2023 Campaign Council hereby calls on Rivers people and the larger public following the cruelty the factional PDP is visiting on the State, even on their own members for disagreeing with the dictator that Wike is on supporting their own party’s presidential candidate, to discountenance the so-called congratulations from the factional PDP. We do not accept such mockery of expression of public goodwill on the withdrawal of a suit as same is tantamount to the rantings of naive political ants.
“Haven (sic) withdrawn the suit, the APC cannot in all honesty claim that the executive orders are still illegal”. This can only come from a system that is oblivious of the basic provisions of the Electoral Act 2022. We will now proceed to expose the naivety expressed in the above assertion by the PDP through her factional Campaign Council Spokesman.
It is appropriate to state that nothing we have done thus far in challenging the obnoxious Decrees 21 and 22 (yes, Decrees!) of the Wike “military” regime falls short of the extant provisions of the 1999 Constitution or Electoral Act 2022. For instance, our proposal to march peacefully against the Executive Orders is well protected by both Sections 40 and 41 of the Constitution on the right to peaceful assembly and association (especially as a political party) and the right to freedom of movement respectively, as well as Section 91(1) of the Act, to wit: “The Commissioner of Police in each State of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, shall provide adequate security for proper and peaceful conduct of political rallies and processions in their respective jurisdictions and, for this purpose, the Police may be supported by the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and any other security agency of the Federal Government”.
Even though the factional PDP acted in gross ignorance of the law by asking: “If the executive orders and the position taken by the Rivers State House of Assembly are illegal, why did it withdraw from court?”, that question has an answer which the inability or failure of the factional PDP to spot is directly attributable to their lack of scholarly discipline.
Regardless of our withdrawal for tactical reasons, the Rivers APC 2023 Campaign Council would continue to insist that those Executive Orders are unconstitutional, unlawful and illegal. A cursory glance at the unambiguous provision of Section 91(4) of the Electoral Act 2022, which is one of the building blocks of our withdrawn suit, bears us witness until a Court of competent jurisdiction rules otherwise:
“No registered political party in Nigeria, its aspirants or candidate shall be prevented from holding rallies, processions or meetings at any time for their constitutional political purposes, and the Police shall in a consultative manner, resolve any conflict of time and venue between and amongst parties where such arises”.
We reiterate that the matter we filed at the Federal High Court against the INEC, Governor of Rivers State, Attorney-General of Rivers State, Commissioner of Police, Rivers State and Chairman of Eleme Local Government Area for himself and on behalf of the Chairmen of the 23 Local Government Areas in Rivers State was for an interpretation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended), the Electoral Act 2022 and INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of the 2023 Elections. Same was brought pursuant to Section 6(6) of the Constitution and Order 48 Rule 4 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009. That is not the suit anyone with a clear head would dismiss as “deceitful, frivolous, defective and baseless” without a judicial determination on the merits. That suit was well grounded in both the law and facts and not what the unrepentant, generic lies of the factional PDP would have the general public believe.
Suffice to state that having bothered to make public the foregoing, we would not join issues with the factional, discordant, distressed and disoriented PDP on the other incoherent, malicious and disrespectful hemlock it fed the public with in that press briefing. Let them live with their disturbed conscience that we are surviving every plot to have the APC disenfranchised again in Rivers State ahead of the 2023 referendum that next year’s elections represent. We have withdrawn our challenge of the Executive Orders for now and will give no clue to the restless factional PDP on what shall follow.
Those who rushed to the State Assembly to pass the Rivers State Advertisement, Use of State owned Property, etc (Prohibition) Law 2022 to steal the wind from beneath our wings in the suit challenging their offensive Executive Orders and make nonsense of the move to shoot both down judicially and judiciously cannot turn around to beat their hollow chests with pride over our decision to withdraw. They should return to their Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to seek proper legal advice and direction. The law does not allow for such duplicity. Therefore, if Eneke the bird has learned to fly without perching on a twig because men have learnt to shoot without missing, the factional PDP has no business complaining or reacting howsoever to a decision to withdraw a suit that is wholly and solely within our rights to make.
We leave the factional PDP to the judgment of the Rivers electorate whose PVCs they are struggling to buy after the embarrassing, desperate and illegal employment of 200,000 illegal “thugs” to man the polling units. We say illegal unequivocally because a Government with the highest notoriety for unemployment and maltreatment of civil servants and pensioners in Rivers history cannot wake up and suddenly engage those numbers who are paid from the State coffers without going through the routine employment protocol conducted and supervised by a duly constituted Civil Service Commission. Moreover, when no such Commission leadership is in place. Or when the PDP State Government is not, and shares no power of recruitment of officials for polling units or collation centres or other election duties with the INEC as conferred on the Commission by the Electoral Act.
However, we leave them to their mendacity. We leave them to the judgment of the people’s referendum to prove the claim that their imposed governorship candidate, Siminalayi Fubara, “is not a product of lies and backstage manipulation”.
When March 11, 2023 comes and the enlightened and sophisticated Rivers electorate are allowed to express their unfettered will between Sim and Tonye Cole, history shall record for posterity that Rivers people know where lies the difference between a Rolls Royce and a Volkswagen Beetle; between the Greek and the Jew in contemporary Rivers politics.
No amount of ill-fated desperation calculated to impose an unconstitutional third term on the State by Governor Wike through his proxy candidate shall stand. Not even through contrived fables to mislead our people that we withdrew our suit because their Government means well by conjuring Executive Orders to deny Rivers people the right to freely exercise the freedom of choice the Constitution has given them to elect the next President, Governor and representatives at both the National and State House of Assembly.
Sogbeye C. Eli
Spokesman, Rivers APC 2023 Campaign Council
December 22, 2022.