Ohanaeze Ndígbo Worldwide has described yesterday’s ruling by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) as ‘weighty’. The Apex Igbo socio-cultural Organization also commended Mr Peter Obi and Alh. Atiku Abubakar, Presidential candidates of the Labour Party, LP and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, respectively for the maturity and patriotism they exhibited by reining in their supporters who may be angry with the tribunal’s ruling and resolving to follow the legal process to a logical conclusion by appealing the judgement at the Supreme Court.
This was contained in a statement issued by Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, Secretary General, Ohanaeze Ndígbo Worldwide on Thursday.
The statement reads:
“Ohanaeze Ndígbo commends the Presidential candidates of the Labour Party, LP and the Peoples Democratic party, PDP, Mr Peter Obi and Alh Atiku Abubakar respectively, for their maturity and patriotism by restraining their supporters from resorting to violent protests but rather resolving to appeal judgement of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal at the Supreme Court.
Furthermore, yesterday’s ruling by their lordships are quite ‘weighty’ in terms of their implications on Nigerian jurisprudence and political development.
For instance, the ruling on the status of the FCT is very crucial based on the court’s interpretation of a candidate having to score ” majority in 2/3 of the states AND the FCT”. We aver that to avoid ambiguity, that constitutional stipulation should not include “AND the FCT” since by implication, the FCT is regarded in this context as “the 37th State whose residents have no special status over and above residents of the other 36 states”
Also, to introduce more transparency in the electoral process, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) implemented biometric technology and IReV, a centralized system for real-time result uploads as well as the BVAS (Bimodal Voters Accreditation System).
Therefore, the ruling that the “use of BVAS by INEC is discretionary” is indeed a wake up call for the National Assembly to amend the extant Electoral Act to ensure that, BVAS, a technological innovation touted by Prof Mahmoud Yakubu’s INEC as a ‘game changer’ , becomes mandatory not discretionary.
Equally notable is the court’s ruling that “the issue of membership is an internal affair of a political party, which is not justiceable and that only the LP has the prerogative of determining who is its member, adding that the Respondents(APC) were bereft of the legal basis to query Obi’s membership of the LP.”
Nevertheless, all hope is not lost, as the Supreme Court is still there to address any perceived miscarriage of justice. We therefore implore the revered justices of the Apex court to handle the forthcoming appeals from the petitioners(LP and PDP) with patriotism and utmost sense of duty.
Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro
Secretary General, Ohanaeze Ndígbo Worldwide”