The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the April 11, 2015 election in Rivers State, Dakuku Peterside, has alleged that the Supreme Court judgment that upheld the election of and affirmed the election of the Peoples Democratic Party candidate – Nyesom Wike – as governor of the state, was contrived to legalize electoral violence and rigging.
The APC flag bearer made the allegation at a press conference in Port Harcourt, the state capital on Tuesday.
Wike, who had his election nullified at the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, had his victory restored by the Supreme Court on January 27.
Mr. Peterside had initially accepted the judgment of the Supreme Court and pledged to provide robust and credible opposition to the Wike administration.
However, in a sudden turn around, the APC governorship candidate said Mr. Wike’s speech at a Church thanksgiving service last Sunday to mark his victory in the court as well as in other fora suggested that he (governor), his party and supporters “might have been in the know of what the judgment would be long before the Supreme Court pronounced it”.
He said despite his acceptance and temperate public comments on the verdict of the court, the governor seemed to have given credence to the pervading doubt being expressed on the judgment in public space, especially in the media about the judgment.
“Many a Nigerian continues to wonder why PDP and Governor Wike’s supporters went on wild celebration across Rivers State as early as 9 am on the Day of judgment even if the actual verdict was handed down at about 6:20 pm of that day”, Mr. Peterside said.
“It clearly suggests that they might have been in the know of what the judgment would be long before the Supreme Court pronounced it.
“This is coupled with several comments especially on the social media some three weeks earlier such as ‘Thank God there will now be no need for a rerun election….. It is surely ending at the Supreme Court’, etc. etc”.
The former House of Representatives member said information at his disposal confirmed that the governor told some persons he did not mention that he (governor) met with one of the justices of the Supreme Court in Mbaise, a town in Imo State, another one in a hotel in Owerri, the state capital and others outside the country.
According to him, the two justices were incidentally members of the panel that decided the case last month.
He said, “Credible information confirmed that Nyesom Wike had earlier confessed to some persons of having met one of the Justices of the Supreme Court in Mbaise during an important burial, another at Owerri in a hotel and yet others in Dubai and Saudi Arabia respectively. These Justices were in the panel that decided the matter in Wike’s favour.
“However, the most striking revelation by Nyesom Wike is contained in his account at the thanksgiving service last Sunday. He obviously stunned his audience and the watching world when he confessed that when it came to the Judges, Dr. Peter Odili and the wife Justice Mary Odili [a Justice of the Supreme Court] were his advisers.
“This simply confirmed his earlier statements that he had contact with the Justices after several attempts to reach the Chief Justice of the country failed.
“It is therefore obvious that the decision of the Supreme Court on the Rivers State Election was not a product of justice but rather a product of compromise and orchestrated contrivance to legalise electoral violence and rigging and, in turn, reward injustice. This calls for serious introspection by our Judiciary and judicial officers”.
Mr. Peterside said the governor probably forgot that he was on live telecast when he said he had midnight discussions with a former governor of the state, Peter Odili, who incidentally is the husband of Mary Odili, a Supreme Court justice.
“This shocking confession needs no further explanation except for you and other decent Nigerians to further make your fair conclusions”, he said.
The APC candidate said while addressing civil servants in Port Harcourt, Gov. Wike exhibited unconscionable indiscretion of the highest order by re-echoing his earlier incendiary statements threatening personnel of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, with death over the forthcoming national and state assemblies rerun elections in the state.
Pointing out that the statement threatening INEC officials was the most callous a governor would make, Mr. Dakuku said “It is a known fact that Wike promotes violence and believes so much in jungle justice but he forgets that such outlook does not have any place in a civilized society”.
He also noted that Wike’s outburst at the thanksgiving service that blood would have flowed if the governorship election was going to hold again confirmed beyond doubt that the governor was not only behind the orgy of violence during the last elections, but also funded and sponsored it.
Peterside also warned the governor to stop verbal attack on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian military.
Decrying a statement credited to Mr. Wike challenging the president to “bring your Boko Haram soldiers to Rivers State” during the rerun, the APC candidate said that kind of statement “typifies the persona of Gov. Nyesom Wike as someone lacking in respect, patriotism and character of being a councillor much more a state governor in the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
He stated further, “Let me draw the attention of Nyesom Wike to the fact that it is most callous of him to demonstrate such level of denigration on the gallant officers and men of the Nigerian military who are putting their lives at risk every other day to safeguard the Nigeria state and citizens when he referred to them as Boko Haram soldiers.
“I vehemently condemn such display of verbal indiscretion against Mr. President and the Nigerian military”.