When the PDP’s presidential primary was held in Abuja on May 28 and May 29, 2022, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State filed a lawsuit against Atiku Abubakar, the party’s presidential candidate, Aminu Tambuwal, the governor of Sokoto State, and the PDP as a whole.
Wike and Newgent Ekamon, a PDP leader, are named as the plaintiffs in the lawsuit with the filing number FHC/ABJ/CS/782/2022. The Independent National Electoral Commission is designated as the second respondent in the originating summons, while the PDP is identified as the first respondent. The third and fourth respondents on the list are Tambuwal and Atiku, respectively.
When candidates for the PDP presidency were asked to address the delegates during the primary, Tambuwal first asked them to support him before coming back to beg them to support Atiku.
Atiku received 371 votes in the primaries, compared to Wike’s 237 and Bukola Saraki’s 70. Iyorchia Ayu, the PDP National Chairman, referred to Tambuwal as the “hero of the convention” after the convention.
Wike and his co-applicant requested the court to rule on eight grounds in the original summons, including whether the PDP’s alleged transfer of Tambuwal’s votes to Atiku was invalid and unconstitutional.
The plaintiffs requested that the court decide whether Tambuwal lost his right to vote after he resigned in favor of Atiku.
He asked the court to determine whether Tambuwal “having stepped down during the primaries ought to lose his votes.”
If these disputes are resolved in their favor, Wike and Ekamon claimed, the court should give nine reliefs, including a ruling that the supposed transfer of Tambuwal’s votes to Atiku is unlawful.
The plaintiffs are also asking for a ruling that the PDP committed negligence and bad faith by giving Atiku the votes cast by the governor of Sokoto in the primaries.
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 further requested that the court rule that the PDP and Atiku abused the situation created by Tambuwal’s withdrawal by allowing the governor of Sokoto to influence delegates to support 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.”
Additionally, they are asking for a court order directing the PDP to recount the votes from the May 28 and May 29 primaries.
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.”
Ekamon mentioned his membership in the PDP and attested to Wike’s victory in the presidential election in a supporting document to which he gave his deposition.
He maintained that Tambuwal withdrew from the race after voting had begun and instructed that his supporters cast their ballots for 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).
The PUNCH discovered that the court papers had been served on the PDP at its Wadata Plaza headquarters in Wuse Zone 5 and that the court bailiff had also handed copies to Atiku’s campaign office in Maitama and the Liaison Office of the Sokoto State Government.
Since losing the presidential primaries, Wike has been at odds with Atiku and Tambuwal.
After Tambuwal had already been given the opportunity to speak at the convention, he had blasted the PDP for allowing him to canvass support for Atiku.
“If I wanted to scuttle the convention, I could have done that and I told them… I have never seen how people can violate procedures and guidelines. Somebody had spoken. It is only at that point he was speaking that he could say I have withdrawn. You don’t call him back,” Wike had said.
Atiku had been encouraged to choose Wike as his running partner after the primary. However, the former Vice-President made the decision to name Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as his running mate, which exacerbated the party’s crisis.
According to reports, Wike and his group of governors have sought the resignation of the PDP national chairman in order for them to support Atiku. They said that because the party’s senior posts are all held by northerners, Ayu, who is from the North-Central region, must step down as a concession to the South.
Ayu, though, has insisted that he won’t step down unless Atiku is declared the winner of the presidential race the following year.
Debo Ologunagba, the PDP’s national publicity secretary, declined to comment on the case when reached by phone and stated that he was not aware of it.
“I’m just hearing about this case from you. I have not seen the process and thus cannot comment on it,” he said.
Atiku’s spokesperson, Paul Ibe, added that his principal had not yet received service of process and could not, therefore, comment on the situation.
“We are not aware of the case and have not been served. When we are served, we will respond appropriately. However, the response will be done in the proper manner and not through the media,” Ibe said.