Since the September 28, 2016 Edo gubernatorial election, when the people of Edo state overwhelmingly voted for Godwin Obaseki, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and gave him the mandate to lead the state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been running from pillar to post. At first they tried to blackmail the people by taking to the streets almost on a daily basis.
I counselled that it was very unwise and unfortunate for them to do so. Initially, they did not heed any advice. In fact they were not ready to listen to anyone or the voice of reason or that of the people. Their stand of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu was that he must become governor at all cost. They went as far as hiring mercenaries and even streets children to do their protest on a daily basis until the people were completely fed up with their untoward antics.
That phase of protests continued and eventually they were goaded that the best recourse to any grievance, assuming there was one, was to go to court and make their case.
After much of disturbances and disruption of the public peace, especially when their attempts to provoke the people failed, they went to court to challenge the victory of Godwin Obaseki. Pastor Ize-Iyamu even went as far as invoking God forgetting that God is not a democrat and that God does not take part in elections. He said that God had told him that he had won the election. As a Christian, I felt disappointed in the manner in which this political pastor had kept dragging God into this and I guess that I wasn’t the only who saw how manipulative he was.
At some point, I remember asking Pastor Ize-Iyamu if the only way he can contribute to governance in Edo is only if he becomes Governor? Besides, I had also reminded him severally that he was in government during the failed Chief Lucky Igbenedion administration where they literally bled and haemorrhage Edo state beyond recognition and how he, Pastor Ize-Iyamu would ever contemplate that the same people they abused would trust him with their votes.
I reminded PDP that in the midst of the seemingly obvious reasons that they never stood a chance ab initio, but they continued in their endless hallucinations so much so that they eventually believed in what never happened – “that they won the election.”
At the Tribunal, the same approach was adopted, they filed their petition and conjured up about 1000 witnesses who they say would prove their case but they could not muster up 100 witnesses. They also alleged over voting and non-accreditation of voters in some wards during the 28th September gubernatorial election. Again, they were unable to substantiate their claims. The witnesses PDP called merely weakened their case with numerous contradictory evidence during cross examination.
The hallucinations didn’t stop there. Again, they say they wanted a re-count of the ballots boxes and the Tribunal obliged them. Bang, they celebrated as if the Tribunal has passed judgement but when the re-counting exercise began, PDP couldn’t even expedite matters. In their end, it became a failed exercise.
Unfortunately for PDP, the Tribunal only deals with material facts and evidence and not based on imagination or held beliefs. The law itself is very clear and unambiguous in the administration and use of evidence in court. PDP requested the ballot re-counting exercise and court obliged and granted their application. PDP carried out the ballot re-counting exercise albeit they ran out of time given for the process but the ballot papers were not tendered as evidence and I don’t know it was mere forgetfulness or their continued hallucinations that even if they didn’t prove their case, the Tribunal would do so on their behalf.
Then as if that was not enough, whilst the Tribunal was still sitting and had not even given judgment on PDP’s Pastor Ize-Iyamu substantive matter, their hallucinations got the better of them and before one could say Jack Robinson, PDP is off to the Appeal Court to challenge the Tribunal on the ballot re-count.
Of course, PDP was well within their rights to appeal but they must have known when to stop. In all this running from pilar to post or should I say a wild goose chase, someone with wisdom should have whispered to them that it’s all an effort in futility. But if nobody felt the need to inform them but the Court will never shy away from its responsibility and that was sternly delivered by Justice Mudasiru Nasiru who read the unanimous judgment, holding that paragraph 41 of First Schedule of the Electoral Act prescribed the time upon which petitioners and respondents were to prove and defend their case.
He ruled that any action done outside the prescribed time would be a nullity and that the tribunal was right to stop the counting of ballot papers after the 14 days period stipulated had elapsed.
He said, “Whatever any party should do to prove its case must be done within the time produced by the schedule. Once a party commences, the time prescribed to it will start to run.
“The two issues for determination are resolved against the appellants. The appeal is unmeritorious and lacked merit. It is hereby dismissed.”
Months after the people have settled for the good governance in Edo, months after an election that was adjudged free, fair and credible, Edo people are now waiting for the outcome of PDP’s petition and the respondents are hopeful and looking up to the Tribunal to deliver justice for the people bearing in mind the onus and burden of proof lies on the petitioners to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.