Posted by By HENRY CHUKWURAH, Port Harcourt on
Following the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal which, last Tuesday, held that Umaru Musa Yar’adua was validly elected as president in the April 21, 2007 Presidential elections, the League of Professionals has held that the verdict is an affirmation of the position which the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu, has consistently maintained on the presidential elections in question.
Following the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal which, last Tuesday, held that Umaru Musa Yar’adua was validly elected as president in the April 21, 2007 Presidential elections, the League of Professionals has held that the verdict is an affirmation of the position which the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Maurice Iwu, has consistently maintained on the presidential elections in question. Consequently, the league has, once again, faulted calls by some groups for Iwu to resign, describing them as mischievous and malicious.
In a statement by its National Coordinator, Dr. Gordon Obisike, the League said that the unanimity of the decision by the five Appeal Court judges who sat on the matter showed that INEC convinced all men of goodwill, including the learned judges, that the elections complied substantially with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2006.
The outcome of the 2007 general elections, particularly the presidential election, has remained controversial following the overwhelming victory which the candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, recorded in the elections. Two major political parties, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Action Congress (AC) had gone to court to challenge the results. The parties joined Prof. Iwu as a party in their petition.
Before the verdict was delivered by the Appeal Court, Iwu had stoutly defended the outcome of the elections, describing it as free, fair and successful. He also held that the outcome of the polls reflected the intent of the Nigerian voters. Iwu was stridently condemned and criticized for this by some contrary interests in the polity.
But the League said that after a thorough review of the processes leading to Tuesday’s verdict, it was convinced more than ever before that Iwu did a good job. The League also gave Iwu credit for the way he handled the so-called interrogatories of Atiku Abubakar, arguing that Iwu’s dexterous dismissal of the empty interrogatories helped in no small way to lend credence to President Yar’Adua’s defence.
The statement reads in part: “The judgment of the Appeal Court which on Tuesday, 26th February, 2008, returned a favourable verdict on the outcome of the 2007 presidential election is a vindication of the position which Prof. Maurice Iwu, the INEC chairman, has consistently held on the issue. For us, it is a reaffirmation of our position that Iwu did his best in the circumstance to give Nigeria an enduring democracy. We salute the courage and boldness of the five Appeal Court judges who delivered this historic judgment. By their action, the judges have, once again, demonstrated that the judiciary is the bastion of democracy.
“After a thorough review of the evidences brought before it, the learned judges weaned the issue of emotions and dealt with material facts of law. For us, the INEC chairman, Prof. Iwu, deserves commendation for consistently affirming his belief in the election. Iwu knew his onions and demonstrated this at all times. His dexterity was particularly noteworthy in his handling of the 27 interrogatories brought by the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar. Iwu’s defence helped a great deal in strengthening Yar’ Adua’s case.
We are delighted that the law has taken its course. Consequently, we see the call by any person or group of persons for Iwu’s resignation as mischievous and malicious. Iwu has no reason to resign as he has brought stability to the polity. We therefore urge all concerned to bury the hatchet so that Nigeria can move forward. We particularly call on Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the ANPP in the elections and that of the AC, Atiku Abubakar, to lay the matter to rest.
“We think that Nigerians should learn one or two lessons from the convictions of Prof. Iwu. He held an election and stoutly defended its outcome. He did not waiver even in the face of intimidating criticisms. Today, he has been vindicated by the Appeal Court which has, through its judgment, implied that those criticizing Iwu were merely blowing hot air. What we all need to do now is to give democracy a chance by refraining from needless litigations and distracting agitations”.
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