Temidayo Akinsuy, Samuel Ogidan
Lagos / Abuja – The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Sunday accused the presidency of casting aspersions on the integrity of the justices of the Supreme Court over the court’s widely accepted judgment on Rivers and Zamfara states elections.
The PDP’s accusation came in reaction to the statement by Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), calling for a review of the apex court’s verdict.
The party stated that Prof. Sagay’s resort to incitement and hate language against the Supreme Court justices further exposed the desperation of the Buhari presidency and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to cow, blackmail, intimidate and attempt to annex the judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court, ahead of the determination of PDP’s presidential election petition, now before the Court of Appeal.
PDP, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted that Prof. Sagay’s comment had also revealed the level of condescension, derision, and contempt the Buhari presidency and the APC have for the justices of the Supreme Court.
Part of the statement reads: “By declaring the upholding of justice by the Supreme Court as a ‘national tragedy’ and ‘unimaginable injustice’, and suggesting that, ‘we (probably, his party members) should not allow’ the judgment as delivered, Prof. Sagay is calling for anarchy and rebelliousness against our constitutional democratic order and rule of law.
“Our party believes that such intentional attack on the integrity of the Supreme Court can only emanate from feverish apprehensions by the Buhari presidency and the APC that they might not have their way in the presidential election petition, hence this resort to blackmail.
“As a law-abiding party, the PDP holds the integrity of the justices as well as the institution of the judiciary very high and do not support this attempt by agents of the APC to clip and sequester the judiciary for their partisan interests.”
The PDP also insisted that there was no way Prof. Sagay, a professor of Law, could justify his call for the rejection of the Supreme Court’s judgment on Zamfara and Rivers states as the judgments were in protection of the rule of law, democratic ethos, as well as the wishes and aspirations of the people over the attempt by the APC to take control of their states through manipulations and award of fictitious votes to their candidates.
The PDP, therefore, called on the Supreme Court justices to note the machinations of the APC and continue to be firm in upholding justice as had been demonstrated in the judgments on Rivers and Zamfara states elections, which would serve as lessons to political parties to adhere strictly to rules of internal democracy in the electoral processes.
In a related reaction, the PDP Lagos State chapter charged the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee and the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and the courts to withdraw all privileges enjoyed as Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) by Prof. Itse Sagay.
In a statement by Taofik Gani, its Publicity Secretary, the party also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately replace Sagay as head of the advisory body and replace him with a competent Nigerian.
“Security agencies must now arrest, interrogate, and expectedly prosecute Sagay for his inciting comments capable of provoking civil unrests in the country at large,” he said.
He added: “The reaction of the Lagos PDP is on the heels of the recent pronouncements by Professor Sagay against the Supreme Court judgments on Rivers and Zamfara states which gave eventual victories to the PDP after declaring that all votes cast for the APC were wasted votes.
“Professor Sagay had described the said judgment as travesty of justice whilst he also urged the APC to insist on their “mandate” by approaching the Supreme Court for a review of the Zamfara state judgment.
“Prof. Sagay has exposed his hatred for the PDP when he described the Supreme Court judgment by positing that ‘in the next four years, Zamfara State will be governed by a party and politicians rejected by the electorates’.
“To the PDP, these words and stance are inciting and unbecoming of a senior lawyer and must be taken seriously as professional misconduct within the contemplation of S.24(1) a&b of the rules of professional misconduct.
“To us as a party in Lagos State and from where most of these false activists speak, Professor Sagay is no more a fit and proper personality to head a Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption.
“He has now showed enough obvious partisanship and support for the APC. One need not wonder why all APC chieftains are saints before the Sagay led PACAC. With Sagay as adviser, the advised is at his own risk.
“It is very laughable that Sagay attempts to be appellate court to the Supreme Court. It is, however, indeed unethical for a lawyer who did not appear in a matter to be seized of the evidence adduced to now berate decisions of such courts. This is exactly what Prof Sagay has done.
“To hit hard on the Supreme Court justices, he chose to play sycophantic and patronising roles by rudely describing the Supreme Court judgment as travesty of justice.
“This is capable of causing hatred for the justices. We thus expect that the Supreme Court should consider the Sagay statements as inciting and contemptuous.
“For us in Lagos PDP, we shall no longer tolerate unjustifiable attacks on our image and interests by persons who disguise as fair speakers but actually APC apologists.”
However, in his response, Sagay told Daily Independent that he was shocked at PDP’s outbursts, saying the party’s reaction showed that it had really gone down.
He said all he did was to do a critique of the Supreme Court’s judgment, adding that he was surprised the PDP could call for his arrest and removal as a SAN.
“I am extremely shocked at the PDP’s call for my arrest and removal as a Senior Advocate. I have known the PDP for its incorrigible love of fraud, indiscipline and total lack of principles which they themselves have admitted by apologising to Nigerians.
“Obviously, they are not sincere. So, I am not surprised that they were not embarrassed at the idea of collecting political offices in a state after an election in which they suffered a crushing defeat.
“In other words, they have no shame in collecting another person’s property. My disappointment is that they have descended into a new low by calling for the arrest of someone who has simply done a critique of the judgment in which they were awarded unearned offices.
“What have I said that is illegal for me to be arrested? They must be in a very bad situation for them to react like this. That is incredible. A whole PDP calling for my arrest because of a legal argument that I presented?
“Rather than respond to the argument or counter me, instead they want me to be arrested. Who is going to arrest me? It gives a very bad impression about them. They’ve really gone down and they are so low,” he said.