By Simeon Nwakaudu
To expect The Nation Newspapers owned by the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, to be objective in matters concerning Rivers State, is tantamount to expecting a cockroach to get justice in a court presided over by fowls. The Nation Newspaper is an embodiment of everything that is false and undemocratic. Therefore, this mouthpiece of the APC lacks the capacity to be truthful.
On Tuesday, February 16, 2016 The Nation rehashed in its Editorial the infantile, false , misleading and unsubstantiated allegations first put in the public domain by the defeated Rivers State APC Governorship candidate, Dakuku Peterside wherein he deliberately misinterpreted the vote of thanks of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to Former Governor Peter Odili and other leaders of Rivers State at the Thanksgiving Service after the Supreme Court judgment.
Though, the Rivers State APC has officially apologised to Former Governor Peter Odili and his wife, Justice Mary Odili, the party through its official in-house journal, The Nation, is throwing up the matter using untoward language and baseless rhetoric.
In its Editorial of Tuesday, February 16, 2016 titled: “Wike’s confession”, The Nation in its tradition of falsehood and pro-APC propaganda claimed like Dakuku Peterside that Governor Wike influenced the decision of the Supreme Court with Former Governor Peter Odili’s advice. The newspaper went ahead to allege that Governor Wike attended the Body of Benchers meeting and tried unsuccessfully to make reference to a previous visit of Governor Wike to the office of the CJN.
All through the propaganda editorial, all The Nation did was to repeat the infamous Dakuku Peterside press statement which has been condemned by all well-meaning Nigerians and legal experts.
To begin with, the Rivers State Government, in a press statement issued by the State Information Commissioner, Dr Austin Tam-George explained clearly the governor’s statement during his thanksgiving service.
While denying the Dakuku Peterside’s allegation that Governor Wike influenced the decision of the Supreme Court, Dr Tam-George declared:
” Why then did Governor Wike lose his appeal to the Supreme Court on the issue of proper venue where the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal should sit? After all, the distinguished Honourable Justice Mary Odili was on that seven-man panel of the Justices of the Supreme Court that dismissed Governor Wike’s appeal. Then, “there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the Supreme Court”. Now that she was not even on the panel that heard the Rivers State Governorship appeal, she is accused of interference. We ask again, was Justice Odili also the one that influenced Akwa Ibom, Ogun, Delta, Abia, and other States’ Governorship appeal at the Supreme Court?
“Clearly the advice that was given by Dr. Peter Odili a medical practitioner and leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State was purely fatherly which Governor Wike took and it served him well unlike Dr. Dakuku Peterside and his master Rotimi Amaechi who never seek wise Counsel or allow themselves to be guided by wise counsel”.
The Nation went ahead to question Governor Wike’s presence at Body of Benchers meeting after the judgement of the Supreme Court. Governor Wike has been a member of the Body of Benchers for over three years. In fact, he is not the only governor who is a member of that body. He also attended the meeting of this August Assembly last October when the Supreme Court threw out his appeal on the territorial jurisdiction of the Rivers State tribunal. At that time, The Nation, the official in-house journal of the lying APC only celebrated the story.
It is no longer news that the Rivers State Government explained the reason Governor Wike attempted to visit the office of the CJN.
The Rivers State Government at the time issued a statement noting:
“While it is true that the governor went to see the CJN on July 7 and 9, 2015, his mission was to brief the CJN in his capacity as the chairman of the NJC on the need to renew the appointment of the acting Chief Judge of the state and also the acting president of the Customary Court of Appeal.
“It should be noted that the current tenure of the incumbents will expire by the end of August 2015, by which time, the courts will be on vacation and the NJC may not be in a position to consider any request for the renewal of their reappointments. There is therefore an urgent need to expeditiously secure the renewal of the appointments of acting Chief Judge of the state and her counterpart in the Customary Court of Appeal before the vacation begins.
“Although the governor went to the CJN’s office on the said dates but never met him because he was not around. However, considering the urgency and importance of his mission, the governor wrote to the CJN the next day which was July 10, 2015, requesting the approval of the NJC for him to renew the appointments of Justice Okocha and Justice Nwankwo as acting Chief Judge of the state, and the acting President of the state Customary Court of Appeal respectively.
“The requests were premised on the need to avoid a sudden vacuum and ensure continuity in the administration of the state’s judiciary pending the appointment of substantive occupants into these offices.”
The Statement added: “There is nothing wrong in the governor, who is also a member of the Body of Benchers, going to see the CJN during official working hours on issues pertaining to the effective administration of justice in his state.
“Therefore, linking the governor’s visit to the CJN with the ongoing election petition is to say the least, malicious, tendentious and a wicked attempt to drag the name of our most revered CJN and indeed the apex court into the murky waters of politics.”
The Supreme Court has released her reasons for the judgement on the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition. Same has been done for several other states. Nobody expects the official in-house journal of the lying APC to celebrate the judgement on Rivers State. However, if this journal has any iota of decency left, it ought to be minimally consistent.
Was it not The Nation that celebrated the Appeal Court judgment on Lagos State pertaining the card reader and accreditation flowing from it? Why is The Nation suffering acute amnesia when the Supreme Court upheld same reasons as it affects Rivers State? This is taking sponsored propaganda to ridiculous heights where reason is thrown overboard.
To remind the editors of The Nation, the Court of Appeal in Lagos adjudicating on the Jimi Agbaje (PDP) v. Akinwunmi Ambode (APC) Governorship Election Petition declared thus as reported in the in-house journal of the lying APC:
“The paragraph (13b) displays a vitriolic attack on the irregularities germinating from the improper or non-use of the smart card readers in the polling units.
“As it is, it has no life of its own as a ground. It endeavours to introduce the defects in the use of smart card readers. The evolution of the concept of smart card reader is a familiar one. It came to being during the last general election. On this score, it is a nascent procedure injected into our infant and fledgling electoral system to ensure credible and transparent election.
“The extant Electoral Act (2010) which predates the concept (of card reader) is not its parent or progenitor. Since it is not the progeny of the Electoral Act, fronting it as a ground to challenge any election does not have its (the Electoral Act’s) blessing, nay Section 138 (1) of it.
“Put simply, a petitioner cannot project the non-presence or improper use of smart card reader as a ground for questioning an election. It does not qualify as one.”
Why is The Nation crying about the position of the Supreme Court when same position had earlier favoured their political party? Besides, this same position was used for all the governorship petitions that got to the Supreme Court. Oyo, Ogun, Adamawa, Yobe, Kaduna, Zamfara, Kebbi, Ebonyi etc. The special interest in Rivers State is understandable. Or is The Nation implying that Governor Wike influenced all these judgments some of which were delivered long before the Rivers matter got to the Apex court?
The Nation’s newspaper political party, the APC alleged that violence marred the governorship election in Rivers State, but failed to discharge the burden of proof on a polling unit by polling unit basis as required by the Electoral Act. Out of 4442 polling units in Rivers State, the APC called only three voters. Of these three voters only one claimed he was disenfranchised. Even The Nation’s editor wouldn’t annul that election if faced with non-existent proofs.
Section 53 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended stipulates how to prove over voting. It is strictly on a polling unit by polling unit basis.
It reads: “Where the votes cast at an election in any polling unit exceed the number of registered voters in that polling unit, the result of the election in that polling unit shall be declared void by the Commission and another election may be conducted at a date to be fixed by the Commission where the result at that polling unit may affect the overall result in the constituency “.
Over-voting and irregularities cannot be proven by the weight of Media misrepresentation or propaganda at the disposal of The Nation and the lying APC.
All through the campaigns and the elections, the APC used her in-house journal, The Nation Newspaper to spread falsehood, concoct non-existent scenarios and mislead unsuspecting people about the Rivers situation. Going forward, nobody expects The Nation newspaper to repent. Falsehood has permeated the structure of the newspaper like a virus and nobody expects it to be cured in the foreseeable future.
The Nation has led the worst traditions of journalism in recent history, heaping insults on institutions of democracy and the rule of law for the purpose of promoting the pecuniary interests of its pay masters. If they failed all through the electioneering period till date as regards Rivers State, they will never succeed. The people are wiser than these evil fiction writers. They rejected the APC because of its romance with lies and indicted crooks. Twenty venom-laced false propaganda-based editorials will make no difference in Rivers State.
As the people of Rivers State sang during the campaign, keep your change and give us Wike. They have been proven right. While APC governors are dancing on the altar of propaganda, doing nothing, Wike has distinguished himself as the best governor in Nigeria, today . The challenge is on the APC and her in-house journal to identify any APC governors in the category of Wike. They should bring proofs of projects executed and programmes initiated. We are not talking about the number of lies told.
The Nation Newspaper must be told that the people of Rivers State have made their choice which has been confirmed by the Supreme Court. It is normal that as workers in the APC’S in-house journal, they should mourn their loss of a source of financial inflow like their chairman, Odigie-Oyegun did, but they are expected to be reasonable when they weep without basis.
Why all these explanations. Abi no be The Nation again? Whatever you do, lying is in their DNA.