Nigeria’s main opposition party, PDP, has called for the postponement of the November 26 governorship election in Ondo State.
The party based its call on the non-conclusion of a court case that was to determine its rightful candidate for the election.
A Court of Appeal panel led by Justice Ibrahim Salauwa on Friday adjourned ruling indefinitely in an appeal filed by Eyitayo Jegede who seeks to be recognised as the PDP governorship candidate.
Mr. Jegede seeks to upturn a Federal High Court ruling that effectively declared Jimoh Ibrahim as the rightful PDP candidate.
While Mr. Jegede and incumbent governor Olusgeun Mimiko are members of the Ahmed Makarfi-led PDP, Mr. Ibrahim is of the Ali Sheriff-led faction.
Justice Salauwa had said that the decision to adjourn was taken in the face of a petition written against the panel to the Chief Justice of the Federation and Chairman of the National Judicial Council alleging acts of corruption, bias and breach of oaths of office amongst others.
Furthermore, the respondents had filed a motion at the Supreme Court in which the Justices of Court of Appeal Panel were named as co-respondents in their personal capacities.
The Appeal Court said it will only continue with the matter after the Supreme Court’s rulings expected to be heard on Tuesday.
The PDP on Saturday in a statement by its spokesperson, Dayo Adeyeye, said in the light of the decision, INEC should postpone the Ondo election.
“We call on INEC to postpone the Election pending the determination of the suit before the Supreme Court.
“We make this call against the backdrop of the fact that INEC is a party to the suit before the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court and is well aware of the steps taken by certain parties to the Suit to frustrate the course of justice,” PDP said.
The party also said it is making the call against the backdrop of the fact that INEC postponed the Edo State gubernatorial election and recently postponed the Rivers rerun elections.
INEC had mentioned insecurity as its reason for postponing both elections.
Further lamenting Friday’s Court of Appeal stance, PDP said the indefinite adjournment is a consequence of “latest of several mischievous actions taken by Messrs Biyi Poroye, Jimoh Ibrahim and their legal team led by Mr. Ben Nwofor (SAN)”.
“These actions, ranging from unsubstantiated allegations of corruption to outright disrespect and disregard for the Justices of the Court of Appeal to disruption of Court proceedings and flagrant abuse of Court processes, are all designed to achieve one aim – stall proceedings and ensure that the legitimate Candidate of the Party is prevented from contesting the November 26th, 2016 Gubernatorial Election in Ondo State.”
SSS invasion responsible
The PDP also alleged that judges of the Court of Appeal were intimidated by the recent “arrests and harassment of several judges by men of the Directorate of State Services.”
“These actions are achieving the desired effect as judges are now compelled to refrain from furthering the course of justice by unsubstantiated allegations of corruption,” the party said.
The party also said it is aware that the adjournment is only a part of a much bigger plan to manipulate the election.
“We are aware that this is part of the plan to use the judicial process, security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to rig the election in favour of the ruling party (APC) before the Election Day.
“We call on all well meaning Nigerians to urge the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government to desist from the use of organs of the Nigerian state as a tool with which to subvert the will of the Nigerian people.
“At this point, we must urge all Nigerians to hold the Federal Government, INEC, APC and the Jimoh Ibrahim group for any consequences of the dangerous games that they have chosen to play with the Nigerian people.
The party called on Supreme Court judges to “stand fast in the face of this existential threat to the independence of the Judiciary and democracy itself. We urge the Justices of the Supreme Court to remember the maxim “Justice delayed is justice denied” while determining the issues before it”.
INEC is yet to reply to the PDP’s call but is not expected to postpone the elections due to an intra-party affair.