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It’s wrong for courts to award election victory -Oshiomhole

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SUNDAY ODE, Abuja. 
National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole Tuesday said the party is set to propose an amendment to the Electoral Act in order to strip courts of the powers to award victory to a different candidate where another person had initially been declared winner.

According to him, the party in the amendment will propose that where there is a dispute concerning the election, rather than award victory to a different person, the court will only be capable of ordering a re-run election.
Oshiomhole, announced this while fielding questions from State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The party boss who was still visibly irked by the Supreme Court’s judgment voiding the election of the party’s candidate in Bayelsa state, David Lyon, said declaring another person as the winner of such election denies the electorate their choice.
He said: “What I think that we must discuss as a people, which concerns you and I as Nigerians, who believe in democracy, is that the law should be amended, such that no matter what happens, when people have voted, they cannot be dismissed as ‘April Fool’.
“You can’t say that although you have voted, and at the time you did so, you voted in good faith, believing that the candidates before you on parade were competent to be so paraded and as a Nigerian voter you voted, then at some other time, some other person tells you that the man you voted is not qualified either because of error in his name or because of chieftaincy title or whatever reason as to lead to disqualification.
“That cannot be the reason why a man who was rejected by the electorate would be imposed on the electorate. Court should not impose.
“If the court finds out that the preferred candidate did not win, for me the only democratic option, legal option will be to repeat the exercise. Nothing should empower the court to impose a man rejected by the people, on the people.
“That goes to the heart of democracy and it destroys the fabric of our democratic process.
“So, in amending the Electoral Act, one of the things I’ll like to see the Parliament to do and we are going to make a representation, is that in the unlikely event that the people have voted in good faith, for a candidate that was validly put before them by INEC, and looking at the faces of the candidates they opted for a particular one, if anybody has any issue with that one that the people prefer and has won, the court cannot impose the person that was rejected.
“The very best the court can do is to order that the exercise be repeated because in a democracy, nobody, other than the people, can choose who governs them, not the courts.
“For me this is fundamental when it comes to who actually won the election. The issue of whether Muhammed, Muhammadu or Momoh, whether they are one and the same person is too technical for the real electorate to bother about, when there are no two people parading themselves as to suggest whether there’s a case of impersonation. This system should not be detained by technicalities.
“At the heart of every judicial pronouncement on elections must be who actually won the majority of lawful votes and if for any reason they found themselves compelled to nullify that person, they should not be empowered to award governorship to a man rejected by the electorate, otherwise, what is democracy about?”
On the Tuesday ruling of the apex court on the review sought by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Imo state gubernatorial election, Emeka Ihedioha, Oshiomhole said it was refreshing and predictable given the attitude of the court on the Bayelsa case.
“I think is refreshing and quite predictable in the sense that from the attitude of the Supreme Court last week on Bayelsa that nothing was wrong with the candidate,” he said.
When reminded that the total notes tally for Uzodinma exceeded the number for accredited voters in the election, Oshiomhole the assertion had not been proved.
He said: “You have made an assumption which is not supported by fact, mainly by the speculation and the roadside talks by some elements in PDP, suggesting that there was over-voting , you add the votes that were ignored.
“Those are not proven because if they were, it was up to their counsel to provide evidence that it was more than the registered votes, not to go and sit on television.
“Matters before the court are canvassed before the court. Issues not raised in the court  cannot be raised on television. I assume your question is informed by those uninformed, self-serving speculations. They don’t merit my reaction.
“Now, the man in Bayelsa is going to govern a state that did not mandate him, purely on technical grounds. Nations are not governed by technicalities, they are governed by people popularly elected. That is the democracy we chose.
“This is not partisan issue at all, it’s about democracy. Court cannot impose losers as winners, for me it’s too fundamental.
“They must take advantage of the amendment to make it impossible for anyone to be so imposed on the basis of technicalities.
“We can do a rerun 10 times, but only the man popularly elected can govern. Otherwise, in a democracy, as they say, the people deserve the government that they have.
In this case you are going to have a government you didn’t vote for superintending over your resources and presiding over your life.
“I think that is the kind of amendment I’ll like to see.
“It is not true that the votes Uzodinma were more than the accredited votes, those are PDP propaganda.”
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