PDP Rejects Exparte Order Stopping Final Collation of Bauchi Guber Results By Beatrice Earland

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the experte order stopping final collation of Bauchi final Guber-national results, stating the order as “arm-twisting” of the judiciary and the court by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to unconstitutionally halt the conclusion of collation of already declared results in the Bauchi State governorship election, which has been won by the PDP.
The party in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said that it was clear that collation of result is part of the electoral process and that INEC cannot act on a purported exparte order to jettison its independence and halt the collation of results, which is a key component of its statutory electoral duty.
The main opposition party noted that such development, which is akin to the infamous order that derailed the 1993 democratic process, was part of the plot by the APC and certain compromised elements in INEC to escalate crisis and derail the country’s electoral process.
The party warned that if this desperate underhand measure by the APC to halt electoral processes is not checked, the country’s hard earned democracy would fail and the nation thrown into anarchy.
Ologbondiyan stated: “The power to collate, suspend collation and or to reverse such decision based on obvious circumstances as the case in Bauchi is clearly within the domain of INEC. Until collation is completed and results declared, no one can question the constitutional powers of the electoral body; INEC, in that regard.
“Our party should not be constrained into a situation in which we will have no option than to allow our members to seek similar exparte orders to halt statutory processes including the swearing-in of APC candidates at various levels, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Section 87 (10) of the Electoral Act is unambiguous in its prescription that nothing in this section shall empower the courts to stop the holding of primaries or general election or the processes thereof under this Act pending the determination of a suit. Our party, therefore, charges INEC to be properly guided by the law in this regard.”
The PDP also urged the judiciary not to allow the APC to entangle the court in its shenanigans to destroy the nation’s hard-earned democracy, stressing that Nigerians in Bauchi State have elected the PDP and nothing can change this reality.
Meanwhile, senior lawyers have advised INEC to ignore the order of the Federal High Court, saying the court lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter. For instance, Mr. Godwin Obla SAN said, the suit filed by Abubakar and the APC, leading to the order was an abuse of court process.
Obla added that since the dispute arose as a result of an election that has been conducted, the proper place for the governor to go should have been the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.
He submitted that the dispute is not a pre-election dispute which the Federal High Court has jurisdiction to hear.
He said, “It is an abuse of court process as far as I am concerned. You can’t go to a regular court once an election has been conducted. He is in the wrong court. He has no business there. It is not a pre-election matter. The matter has now become a matter for the election petition tribunal. The danger in this is that if it is allowed to continue, copy-cats will now take advantage of it to begin to file frivolous suits in courts.”
Aligning himself with Obla’s submissions, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), pointedly advised INEC to disregard the order, saying an order made in vain and without jurisdiction is not supposed to be obeyed.
Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN likened the order by the Federal High Court to the order which led to the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, which was acclaimed to have been won by Chief MKO Abiola.
He described the action of the APC and Governor Abubakar as an act of desperation adding that they do not have any ground to go to court since the matter was not a pre-election matter but a dispute arising from an election.
Ozekhome contended that the proper place to seek redress should have been the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.
Also, a human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana SAN, referred to Section 285 (2) of the Constitution which confers disputes arising from governorship elections strictly on Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and concluded that Abubakar and APC were supposed to head to the tribunal and not the court.
By virtue of Section 285 (2) of the Constitution, it is only the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that has the jurisdiction to hear the matter not the Federal High Court. The Federal High Court’s jurisdiction covers pre-election matters,” he said.

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