Members of the Appeal Panel hearing the petitions by the governorship aspirants of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] in Rivers State on last Saturday’s local and ward congresses, have denied an allegation by the aspirants that the panel was doing the bidding of one of them, Nyesom Wike.
Sixteen governorship aspirants of the PDP had on Saturday boycotted the party’s congresses in the state and complained later in a statement that it breached the procedures leading to the exercise.
However, 14 of them petitioned the panel alleging that it was doing the bidding of Mr. Wike, a former Minister of State for Education.
The aspirants are Beks Dagogo-Jack, Dumo Lulu-Brigss, Lancelot Anyanya, Sampson Ngerebara, Don Baridam, Tamunosisi Gogo-Jack and Abie Abbey-Jack.
Others are Bernard Mikko, Pawariso Horsfall, Oseleye Ojuka, Tonye Princewill, Nwankwo Sunday, Nimi Walson-Jack, Lee Maeba, Gabriel Pidomson and Silva Opusunju.
The Chairman of the panel, Afam Okeke, said the claim by the aspirants that it was doing the bidding of Mr. Wike, was an attack on their integrity.
He said the panel had already responded in writing with a view to resolving the matter.
“This is their petition with us here and these are their signatures. I agree with them that they did not participate in the congresses, but they sent in their petition,” Mr. Okeke said.
“Now that attacks our integrity. It is unfortunate for party members because there is no evidence to substantiate any of those claims they have made.”
He, however, said the issues at stake were internal family matters and that though it understood the emotions behind their complaints, the panel would accommodate the issues.
He stated, “We need to vouch for our integrity that we are not here to do anybody’s bidding. It is impossible to be here to do anybody’s bidding. Everybody that came here with a petition was well attended to.
“I am sure that nobody who came here will leave here without the impression that indeed, we are committed to a transparent process. Our mandate is not to cause division in the party. Our mandate is to assuage the feelings of people who have one grievance or the other.”
Mr. Okeke said beside the aspirants’ petition, the panel also received another one from the New Dawn group led by Emanuel Georgewill and another complaint from the Rivers Peace Restoration Agenda presented by one Elemchukwu Obowu.
He said, “After careful consideration of all the petitions, we made our findings and in arriving at our findings, we were guided by justice, fairness and the provisions of the electoral guidelines as stipulated by the party.”