BENUE OPPOSITION ARM-TWISTING JUDICIARY TO GET UNMERITTED JUDGEMENTS
We read a report in some of today's dailies with the headline 'Plot to Plunge Benue into Violence Uncovered' written by a faceless group which calls itself the Middle Belt Vanguard for Democracy and Good Governance.
In the said report, the group accused Governor Samuel Ortom and other leaders of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP of influencing the judiciary to favour candidates of the party in the 2019 elections at the Tribunals and Appeal Court.
Part of the report read:
"The group identified former Senate President David Mark and Governor Samuel Ortom as those involved in the manipulation of the judiciary behind the scene so as to impose on the people a leadership they had rejected at the polls."
We view the accusation as not only baseless but also a desperate attempt by members of the Benue State opposition to paint the Governor and other PDP leaders in bad colours before the public.
This latest development, while not totally a surprise, is again a sad testament to the desperation and willingness of the opposition and its leaders to go to any lengths, including endangering the very soul of democracy and the corporate existence of Benue State, to achieve their nefarious aims.
We had alerted Benue people and other Nigerians of plans by the opposition to wage a campaign of falsehood and blackmail against Governor Ortom. They met and decided to mount pressure on the judiciary to force it to give judgments in their favour at the Tribunal and Court of Appeal. It was also reported that they contacted some leaders of their party outside the state to intervene and influence the judiciary to favour their candidates.
Their current attacks on the judiciary are part of the plot to whip up sentiments in the face of numerous losses at the election tribunals in order to achieve their aim.
PDP candidates in Benue State won the 2019 elections in a free and fair contest. The party emerged victorious with the Governorship seat, three Senators out of the three, seven House of Representatives and 23 State Assembly seats. This was as a result of the general acceptance and goodwill the party enjoys among majority of Benue people.
Incontestable facts remain that right from the campaigns to the elections, the main opposition in the state did not demonstrate readiness for a free and fair contest.
While Governor Ortom and other top leaders of the PDP in the persons of State Chairman, Sir John Ngbede, Senator David Mark, Senator Gabriel Torwua Suswam, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, Comrade Abba Moro, Senator Emmanuel Orker Jev and others crisscrossed the state canvassing for votes, leaders of the opposition told their members that victory would be announced in their favour on the day of elections and their candidate installed as Governor, whether or not any ballot was cast.
During the election, opposition members were arrested in Ado local government area and elsewhere over acts of violence while others were caught with huge sums of cash in Makurdi on the day of the governorship election, but there is no record anywhere of any PDP member fingered in acts of violence or election rigging.
Majority of Benue people elected Governor Ortom for a second term of office on the platform of the PDP with 434,473 votes against his closest rival who polled 345,155 votes representing a defeat margin of 89,318 votes.
Ridding on such popular crest of victory, PDP in Benue State has no need to seek to influence the outcome of election tribunals or Court of Appeal. That the judgments so far delivered by the courts favour PDP only points to the fact that PDP was the true winner of the 2019 elections in Benue State.
Governor Ortom has extended a hand of fellowship to the opposition and we expect them to embrace it in the interest of the state. As the Governor has repeatedly stated, politics is over; now is time for governance. What is most important at this stage is for sons and daughters of the state to work together for a better Benue.
We urge leaders of the opposition in the state and their supporters to respect the sanctity of the judiciary and refrain from casting aspersions on it. Leadership comes from God and He gives it to whomsoever He wills.
Chief Press Secretary
October 28, 2019.