Even while the 2023 governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP), Hon David Ombugadu and his political party have gone to the tribunal to challenge the declaration of His Excellency, Engr. Abdullahi Sule by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as duly elected Governor of Nasarawa State, there is every indication that the duo are resorting to media trial and blackmail in order to attract sympathy from the less discerning public.
While it’s incumbent on both Ombugadu and the PDP as petitioners challenging the election of Engineer Sule to ensure that their petition is established on valid grounds recognized by law, their recourse to media trial and blackmail shows clear desperation and obvious lack of confidence in the veracity of their claims.
First, the lingering protest by supporters of the PDP, mostly widows of murdered security operatives hired to display nudity to the consternation of the discerning general public, as well as the relentless falsehood propagated on daily basis in some section of the media, are calculated attempts to evoke public sympathy on a case that has since been lost at the polling units.
In their characteristic effort to blackmail members of the tribunal, Ombugadu and the PDP took to the media to create an illusionary image of a disturbed Governor Sule, merely because the election petition tribunal admitted four witnesses belonging to the petitioner. In a report titled “Nasarawa guber: Tension grips Gov. Sule, as tribunal admits Ombugadu’s 4 witnesses”, published in an online news media, it was alleged that the Governor was apprehensive following the tribunal’s decision to admit the four witnesses standing for Ombugadu and his party. This is outright falsehood.
Aside of the deliberate attempt to create false hope in a matter Ombugadu and the PDP knew they have since lost, the report showed the level of desperation by hoodwinking the tribunal as well as draw the sympathy of the unsuspecting public to a lost cause. If at all Ombugadu and the PDP are certain of the claims, why dont they just pursue their matter before the tribunal instead of resorting to propaganda on the pages of newspapers and on television stations.
Prior to the report mentioned above, Ombugadu and the PDP had earlier sought to malign and blackmail the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC when they accused the electoral umpire of allegedly frustrating their case at the governorship election petition tribunal.
Spokesman of the opposition party in the state, claimed that despite the tribunal’s order, INEC officials at the local councils have refused them access to electoral documents for inspection. This move however did not appear to Ombugadu and his party that they are only trying to be jurors in their own case. If indeed Ombugadu is confident and convinced on the falsehood being propagated by his party suggesting that the governorship election was manipulated in favour of the ruling APC, why the campaign of calumny against Governor Sule and INEC?
This allegation against INEC by the PDP is coming against the backdrop that the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC Professor Mahmood Yakubu, had assured that the commission has nothing to hide. In a recent response to similar claims by the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, the INEC boss further assured that Resident Electoral Commissioners at the state level would also make available necessary documents to the party speedily.
The PDP and its governorship candidate in Nasarawa appeared to have thrown all caution to the winds in their collective amnesia about the outcome of the 2023 guber election in which citizens of Nasarawa State vehemently resisted the temptation towards introducing religion and tribe into the politics of the state. The continous recourse to primordial sentiments instead of focusing on the weight of its argument before the tribunal only succeeded in showing Ombugadu and the PDP for what they really are, the proverbial Nigerian politician and party that never ever lose at the polls unless if they were rigged out.
With political attention now shifting to the courts as aggrieved candidates and political parties are already at the courts challenging the outcome of the polls and seeking legal remedies, Ombugadu and his PDP have taken to the courts of public opinion with all manner of bizarre unverifiable claims, instead of focusing on their case before the tribunal. Celebrating the acceptance of witnesses by the election petition tribunal is premature as it remains to be seen what these witnesses can bring to the table.
This is the same Ombugadu and his political party that were whipped and thrashed by Governor Sule back in 2019. Ombugadu resorted to the courts then and was again defeated. Unlike in 2019, the level of desperation is such that Ombugadu and his party appear in a hurry to procure favourable judgment not from the election petition tribunal bit from the courts of public opinion.
This indeed, informed their resolve to embark on relentless media trial and blackmail against Governor Sule, INEC and any other constitutionally recognized body that may have capacity to call off their bluff and expose their blatant lies.
–Abare, a public affairs analyst, writes from Lafia, Nasarawa State.