PDP Crisis Deepens, As Wike Drags Atiku, Tambuwal To Court
The Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja challenging the outcome of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary.
It comes as a signal that recent efforts by the party to reconcile him with the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has not yielded positive result.
Mr Wike seeks, among other prayers, the court’s pronouncement declaring him the PDP’s presidential candidate for the 2023 election.
In the suit, Mr Wike sued the PDP, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Atiku, and Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State as defendants.
According to court documents, the PDP is listed as the first respondent while Atiku is the 2nd respondent.
Punch newspaper reports that the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/782/2022, has Mr Wike and a PDP chieftain, Newgent Ekamon, as the plaintiffs.
Mr Wike came second behind Atiku in the party’s presidential primary election held in May. Mr Tambuwal, who was also a presidential aspirant, stepped down for Atiku at the last minute.
Mr Tambuwal’s last-minute withdrawal from the race is believed to have helped to secure victory for Atiku. Mr Tambuwal at the venue of the election urged his supporters to cast their votes for Atiku.
The former vice president ended up defeating 12 other aspirants including Mr Wike to emerge as the party’s presidential flagbearer.
Of the 767 accredited ballots at the election, Atiku polled 371 votes while his closest challenger, Mr Wike, came second with 237 votes.
Nigeria’s former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, scored 70 votes to come a distant third while Governor of Akwa Ibom, Udom Emmanuel, came fourth with 38 votes.
Mr Wike has fallen out with the party, and until recently, refused to meet with Atiku in the aftermath of the primary election. The subsequent choice of Delta State governor Ifeanyi Okowa as the party’s presidential running mate over Mr Wike was also said to have deepened the Rivers State governor’s grievances against the party.
The party recently embarked on a move to reconcile Mr Wike and Atiku ahead of the 2023 election. PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Wike demanded the resignation of the national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, as part of his conditions for reconciliation with Atiku.
But with Mr Wike’s suit, it is clear the reconciliatory move has failed to mend the crack between the duo.
In his suit challenging the outcome of the primary election, Mr Wike cited the transfer of votes meant for Mr Tambuwal to Atiku as his major grouse.
‘Wike won the primary election’
In a supporting affidavit that he deposed, Mr Ekamon, the co-plaintiff, noted that he was a member of the PDP and attested to the fact that Mr Wike won the presidential election.
He maintained that Mr 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) respondent’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).”
Issues for determination
The plaintiffs are asking the court to adjudicate on eight issues including whether the purported transfer of Mr Tambuwal’s votes to Atiku by the PDP was illegal.
They urged the court to determine if Mr Tambuwal lost his claim to votes the moment he stepped down for Atiku.
Another issue for the court’s determination is whether the governor “having stepped down during the primaries ought to lose his votes.”
In their prayers, Messrs Wike and Ekamon asked the court to declare that the purported transfer of Mr Tambuwal’s votes to Atiku is “null and void.”
Furthermore, the plaintiffs asked the court to declare that the PDP acted negligently and in bad faith by transferring Mr Tambuwal’s votes to Atiku at the primary.
They prayed the court to “cancel the transfer of votes and a corresponding order restraining” Mr Tambuwal’s “withdrawal” from the primary.
Messrs Wike and Ekamon urged the court to order INEC to reject or remove Atiku from “its list of candidates in the 2023 presidential election.”
They asked the court to order the PDP to recount the votes of the primary that was held on May 28 and May 29.
The plaintiffs 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.”
The suit has yet to be assigned to a judge for a hearing.