Rivers Gov. Nyesom Wike has filed a suit at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, challenging the outcome of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential primaries help in May.
Wike. among other prayers, seeks the court’s pronouncement declaring him the PDP’s presidential candidate for the 2023 election.
In the suit, Wike sued the PDP, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State as defendants.
PDP is listed as the first respondent while Atiku is the 2nd respondent, court documents show.
The suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/782/2022, has Wike and a PDP chieftain, Newgent Ekamon, as the plaintiffs.
In the primaries in which Wike came second behind Atiku, Tambuwal was also a presidential aspirant bur he stepped down for Atiku at the last minute, a withdrawal believed to have helped secure victory for Atiku.
Tambuwal at the venue of the election urged his supporters to cast their votes for Atiku.
The former vice-president ended up defeating 12 other aspirants, including Wike, to emerge as the party’s presidential candidate.
Of the 767 accredited ballots at the election, Atiku polled 371 votes while Wike came second with 237 votes.
Wike fell out with the party in the aftermath of the primaries and until recently, refused to meet with Atiku.
The subsequent choice of Delta Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa as the party’s presidential running mate deepened the rift between the Rivers governor and the PDP, prompting moves by the party to seek reconciliation with Wike.
Reports showed the efforts failed because the party didn’t meet Wike’s preconditions for peace, one of which was the resignation of the party’s national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu.
In his suit challenging the outcome of the primaries, Wike cited the transfer of votes meant for Tambuwal to Atiku as his major beef.
In a supporting affidavit he deposed, co-plaintiff Ekamon noted he was a member of the PDP and attested to the fact that Wike won the presidential primaries election, maintaining that the Sokoto governor withdrew from the contest after voting had already commenced and directed that his votes be assigned to Atiku right in the middle of the exercise.
He said: “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) respondent’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 plaintiffs are praying the court to adjudicate on eight issues including whether the purported transfer of Tambuwal’s votes to Atiku by the PDP was illegal.
They asked the court to determine if Tambuwal lost his claim to votes the moment he stepped down for Atiku.
Another issue for the court to determine is whether the governor “having stepped down during the primaries ought to lose his votes.”
In their prayers, Wike and Ekamon asked the court to declare the purported transfer of Tambuwal’s votes to Atiku as “null and void.”
The plaintiffs also asked the court to declare that the PDP acted negligently and in bad faith by transferring Tambuwal’s votes to Atiku at the primaries.
They prayed the court to “cancel the transfer of votes and a corresponding order restraining” Tambuwal’s “withdrawal” from the primary.
Wike and Ekamon urged the court to order INEC to reject or remove Atiku from “its list of candidates in the 2023 presidential election.”
The duo asked the court to order the PDP to recount the votes of the primary that was held on 28 and 29 May.
The plaintiffs are seeking an order of the court “directing the 1st respondent (PDP) to declare the 2nd applicant (Wike) as the winner of the aforesaid primaries election with a corresponding order directing the 1st respondent (PDP) to forward his name to INEC as the candidate to contest the presidential election in 2023.
The suit hasn’t been assigned to a judge for a hearing yet.