Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike has filed a lawsuit against Atiku Abubakar over the 2023 presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Recall that the party presidential primary election took place on May 28th and 29th in Abuja, the federal capital territory (FCT).
DAILY GIST is reporting that the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/782/2022 has Governor Wike and a PDP chieftain, Newgent Ekamon as the plaintiffs, while the PDP is listed as the first respondent in the originating summons according to filings entered before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.
Also listed in the originating summons are the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the 2nd respondent, the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal and Atiku Abubakar as the 3rd and 4th respondents respectively.
The parties were served on July 1, and a PDP official responded to the originating summons on August 5 in Abuja. The lawsuit could complicate the main opposition party’s drive and message leading to the 2023 general elections — for a platform already bogged down by the upswing of Peter Obi and his Labour Party base.
In the originating summons, Wike and his co-applicant asked the court to determine eight issues including whether the purported transfer of Tambuwal’s votes to Atiku by the PDP was illegal and void. The plaintiffs asked the court to determine if Tambuwal lost his claim to votes the moment he stepped down for Atiku.
They asked the court to determine whether Tambuwal “having stepped down during the primaries ought to lose his votes.” Wike and Ekamon argued that should these issues be determined in their favour, the court should grant nine reliefs including a declaration that the purported transfer of Tambuwal’s votes to Atiku be declared null and void.
The plaintiffs are also seeking a declaration that the PDP acted negligently and in bad faith by assigning the Sokoto governor’s votes to Atiku at the primary. They prayed the court to “cancel the transfer of votes and a corresponding order restraining the 3rd respondent (Tambuwal’s) withdrawal in the primary was done after voting had commenced.”
The applicants also prayed the court to declare that the PDP and Atiku took undue advantage of Tambuwal’s withdrawal when they allowed the Sokoto governor to persuade delegates to vote for the former Vice-President in the primary.
Wike and Ekamon asked the court to order INEC to reject or remove Atiku from “its list of candidates in the 2023 presidential election.” They are also seeking an order commanding the PDP to recount the votes of the primary that was held on May 28 and May 29.
Lastly, the applicants are seeking an order of the court “directing the 1st respondent (PDP) to declare the 2nd applicant (Wike), a presidential aspirant in the May 28 and May 29 primary as the winner of the aforesaid primary with a corresponding order directing the 1st respondent (PDP) to forward his name as the candidate to contest the presidential election in 2023.”
In a supporting affidavit he deposed to, Ekamon noted that he was a member of the PDP and attested to the fact that Wike won the presidential election. He maintained that Tambuwal withdrew from the contest after voting had commenced and directed that his votes be assigned to Atiku.
“The third respondent (Tambuwal) speaking twice before stepping down from the contest, persuaded all his delegates who were going to vote for him to vote for the 4th respondent (Atiku).
“The 1st (PDP) and 4th (Atiku) respondents who also wanted the votes desperately agreed with the 3rd (Tambuwal) and assigned 3rd (Tambuwal) respodnent’s votes to the 4th (Atiku) respondent and increased his votes to win the 2nd applicant (Wike).
“The 2nd applicant (Wike) won the primaries if the votes of the 3rd respondent (Tambuwal) had not been transferred or assigned to the 4th respondent (Atiku)”.
It also comes as a reconciliation panel begins sitting to resolve a cold war between Atiku and Wike over the outcome of the presidential primary and the selection of a running mate by Atiku
The crisis escalated last week when Mr Wike publicly accused Atiku of lying about the extent of the infighting while allegedly instigating attacks through Sule Lamido and others, calling them “attack dogs.”
Wike has been seething over the convention outcome for several weeks, and his anger intensified after Mr Abubakar passed him over for Ifeanyi Okowa as the vice-presidential candidate. Mr Abubakar said competence and loyalty weighed heavily in his considerations for a running mate.
Mr Wike came second during the primary, scoring 237 votes to trail Mr Abubakar, who polled 371 votes from the total 767 votes cast at the convention ground in Abuja.
The Rivers governor blamed his defeat on Mr Tambuwal’s decision to step down for Mr Abubakar at the last minute, describing the process as unfair — even though he did not argue that it violated the party’s standing rules.