The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State on Thursday petitioned the Governments of the United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom (UK), France, Germany, including the United Nations (UN), acquainting them of breaches of transparent and open elections in the Nigeria by the All Progressives Congress (APC) government which manipulates the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the judiciary to subvert free and fair elections in the political interest of the ruling party. The party followed up the petition with peaceful and non-violent protest in collaboration with Civil Society Groups in Edo State, on the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the amended electoral law as well as the judgment of the Supreme Court on the Imo State governorship election which the court was perceived to have perverted justice in creating votes to ensure the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hope Uzodinma, was made governor by fiat contrary to the official result declared by the INEC which indicated Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP won the election and was inaugurated Governor of Imo State.
The Edo PDP in a communique signed by Chris Osa Nehikhare, State Publicity Secretary, noted that those who participated in the mass protest represented over 2 million public sector workers across 18 local government areas as well as private sector individuals and students from several tertiary institutions across Edo State. The peaceful non-violent protest which held on Thursday was identified with the struggle to “Deepening Democracy In Nigeria – Signing the Electoral Law Amendment by Muhammadu Buhari”.
The Edo State Publicity Secretary observed that the protest represented a political mechanism to “reinforcing the previous protests nationwide which rejected the Supreme Court’s unjustifiable ruling in the Imo State governorship election as well as highlighting the need and exigency of signing the electoral law amendment, which will substantially eliminate electoral malpractices, in Nigeria.” The PDP declared that the Imo State judgment is “a clear misuse of judicial authority and a usurpation of the statutory duties of the Independent National Electoral Commission.”
The party argued that Article 27 of The Declaration of Human RIghts, adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly on the 10th of December, 1948, recognizes the integral role that transparent and open elections play in ensuring the fundamental right to participatory government.
PDP, therefore, declared: “To this end, Nigerians have suffered undue hardship during elections because the processes, from the ballot box to the tribunal rulings are subject to manipulation and shrouded in secrecy and controversy.
“It is critical, therefore, to bring to the attention of the federal government of Nigeria and the governments of the United States of America, The United Kingdom, Germany, France, China and other members of the United Nations General Assembly, that there are no credible, free, transparent and fair elections in Nigeria. That there is a clear and present danger to the survival of democracy in Nigeria if the electoral laws and processes are not reviewed to suit transparent and open processes.”
The PDP protested that in the stand-alone elections, as in the coming election in Edo in 2020, the APC federal government have reduced elections to battle grounds where APC candidates are assisted with government apparatus to intimidate opponents, manipulate results and enforce illegality.
The State Publicity Secretary remarked that the party made several resolutions during the Thursday protest in Edo State.
According to him, in the course of the protest, participants agreed on the following:
1. That the state of stand-alone and general elections conduct in Nigeria is dangerous and worrisome. Despite efforts by the civil societies, electoral monitors and political parties to observe free and fair elections processes, the ruling APC and President Buhari have chosen to use the Judiciary to upturn election results in their favour, when they are unable to introduce self-written results at collation centers, induce voters with money and force voters to vote for them at the polling units.
2. That the Judiciary has become a rubber stamp of the executive to the extent that Nigerians now openly challenge the supremacy of the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of legal entanglements, and this is a recipe for anarchy if unchecked.
3. That similar to the protests which took place nationwide on Sunday January 19th 2020, we are calling on the Supreme Court to reconvene and review the ruling on the Imo State governorship election case, which was ruled in favour of Hope Uzodinma, who came 4th in the figures released by INEC, as the statutory commission empowered to conduct elections in Nigeria.
4. That based on the extant amendments to the electoral law of 2015, Nigerians and Edo People are generally in agreement that when effected, the amended electoral law will ensure free and fair elections across the country, and therefore resolved to call on the President to, as a matter of urgency, sign into law the amended act, and avail Nigerians their universal adult suffrage as guaranteed by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
The party expressed the belief that only the people should be empowered to elect their leaders. PDP insisted that legalizing the card reader will eliminate the absurd judgements where votes recorded surpass number of accredited voters and the law will turn a blind eye to this obvious anomaly.