Earthquakes are never delightful to their victims, and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) may soon be the latest witness to this tragic truth. I do not refer here to that natural phenomenon caused by tectonic plates’ interactions with one another. I refer to major events that have the potential to spell doom and cause certain unhappiness to those involved in them.
For getting its hopes too high and wheedling itself into believing it actually won the Edo election of September 26, 2016, PDP will soon enough have to survive or expire in an earthquake. The disaster will affect its foundations, not exempting its somewhat doubtful candidate in the election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu or if you like, Pastor Andrew Ize-Iyamu.
After losing without much chivalry, the party filed a petition challenging the declaration of Governor Godwin Obaseki at the Election Petition Tribunal. This petition was Dead on Arrival, and many have become savvy to that status quo, especially with the overwhelming controversy the party has generated, from altered depositions to final addresses with Biblical allegories.
Mr. Onyebuchi Ikpeazu, Mr. Wole Olanipekun and Chief Lateef Fagbemi, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) and Counsels to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respondents respectively, detonated the nuclear weapons that vivified this earthquake.
While arguments had been flying back and forth with legal severity, Fagbemi lit the fuse when he told the 3-man tribunal led by Justice Ahmed Badamasi that assuming the prayers of the petitioners were considered, the odds still favoured Godwin Obaseki, the APC candidate.
He whipped, and soundly so, the petitioners’ arguments that they had conducted a mysterious ballot recount and had drawn implausible tables illustrating their findings, to wit that they won the election and should accordingly be declared winners.
A baffled Fagbemi wondered in what séance this recount occurred for it was not in the full glare and ken of the general public that it happened.
He said: “They did not tell us which one belongs to which, but they have now come out to tell us that they have given us the figures. Assuming your Lordships are even prepared to take their figures, we still have won by as much as 58,696 votes, and you can find that in paragraph 7.1 (2) of our reply”.
He continued that even if the tribunal humoured their orphic figures, the 58,696 practical and proven votes by which the APC led the election results would still have heartily put PDP’s arguments to the sword.
To prove PDP’s petition as a stillborn idea further, he cited the case of Oyewole and Akande submitting that unless a document was tendered as exhibit, the tribunal could not make use of it.
Another case he cited was that of Wasa and Kara where the Supreme Court took the position that the document must be an exhibit tendered in the case, rounding off that the petitioners had not even disputed the spread, which was an important factor in the proceedings.
Meanwhile, the petitioners, perhaps overwhelmed by anagnorisis, sensing the failure of their petition and its attendant arguments, resorted to fallacious tactics and eschewing their petition in favour of an argument that the 1st respondent did not call evidence.
Ikpeazu, himself a learned fellow and ready to battle on all fronts, explicitly argued that the electoral body was not obliged to call evidence. He accompanied the argument with a citation of the case of Alhaji Adamu Maina Waziri versus Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam and four others. The deployed citation was fresh from the oven, being a judgement delivered on the 16th of February, 2016.
Meanwhile, after Fagbemi had further decimated the petitioners’ tactics, Olanipekun referred the tribunal to paragraph 4.6, page 9 of the respondents’ reply where they cited the case of Ucha and Elechi, and explained that they could not draw charts of their own volition and impose them on the court.
Meanwhile, the petitioners, not happy at the barrage of counterarguments, weakly protested that the allegations were directed against INEC, so only INEC could reply.
Olanipekun displayed no tolerance for this argument and asked why the petitioners joined all three respondents. He cited the case of Omisore and Aregbesola where the court called it trite law, noting that non-calling of evidence by INEC did not affect the case adversely in any way.
By cross-examining the witnesses of the petitioner, he argued, the 1st respondent had given evidence and the witnesses of the respondents and appellants were evidence for the court.
The petitioners, in their petition, said the PDP candidate was Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. The PDP candidate that appeared before the court and who co-wrote the petition was a man named Pastor Andrew Ize-Iyamu. Naturally, the respondents did not recognise him and voiced this.
In defence, the petitioners’ counsel asked Chief Dan Orbih, Chairman of a faction of Edo State PDP, to stand up to identify the 1st petitioner – the man named Andrew.
Olanipekun cited a Supreme Court ruling that ‘Wild Gold Jewellery Limited’ is different from ‘Wild Gold Jewellery’ and that ‘Incorporated Gospel Holy Apostolic Church’ is different from Incorporated Holy Gospel Church’.
These severe arguments against the petition of PDP and one of the two Ize-Iyamu(s) not only killed the spirit of the PDP supporters, it meted incalculable damage on the psyche of the man, Andrew.
His countenance was that of a weary, browbeaten man and not even the comical “10 commandments” of Mallam Yusuf Alli (SAN) could instil life and hope to PDP after the adoption of their addresses.
Analysts predict a Godwin Obaseki-victory would further crash the already haemorrhaging party and put its remains to rest.
Not only the party, but also the man, Osagie or Andrew, for we really are in the dark as to the original identity of the mystical pastor, may not have a safe landing from this stillborn petition’s predicted burial.
In any case, and according to Olanipekun, “All is well that ends well. We leave the rest for your Lordships to compute. We want to appreciate the maturity of the tribunal.”