The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is currently under severe attack over alleged plot to frustrate probe of killings and destruction of properties estimated at millions of naira during Rivers State elections.
It is reported that Human rights and civil society activists have criticised the steps taken by the party to stop the proceedings. The activists described the PDP's action as 'disappointing' and a sign that it has something to cover up.
Premium Times reports that counsel to the PDP, Emmanuel Aguma, disclosed that the ruling party was boycotting the commission.
He presented an interim order from a Federal High Court warning the commission from sitting, and declared that partaking in the investigation would amount to breaking the order of the court.
“I wouldn’t want to be a part of a process that does not obey the rule of law, so I’m bringing your attention to this. It is the duty of the panel to obey the court,” he said.
Reacting to PDP's move, Chidi Odinkalu, the head of the commission maintained that the panel was not served the order and fixed Wednesday for the commission to hear counsel’s arguments and the legal authorities on the case.
Meanwhile, Debo Adeniran, the head of the civil society group, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, questioned why the PDP would want to stop a committee looking to address something as important as the abuse of the major human right to life, "if it is not complicit in the crimes the commission is probing."
“Those who obtained the injunction and the judiciary that gave the injunction are making a statement that they are guilty as suspected because if they are clean, they would be happy to appear before the commission of enquiry to defend themselves by presenting evidences and witnesses that will exonerate them from the suspicion or allegation,” Adeniran said.
Also speaking against the action of the PDP is, the Convener of Say No Campaign Nigeria, Ezenwa Nwagu, who described the injunction as disappointing.
Nwagu said while bans are part of our legal system, they should not be allowed to come in the way of processes set up to bring people that committed terrible crimes like murder to justice.
He expressed optimism that the order would only shift but not succeed in halting the investigation from holding, He recommended taking the matter to the International Criminal Court if it turns out to be impossible to hold the inquiry in Nigeria.
“It is an indication that somebody is afraid. But that can only delay the day of their judgement,” the activist said. “Bear in mind that the issue of murder points clearly to the fact that even if our own internal legal system is unable to bring to book those who have committed these heinous crimes, we have now the ICC that have shown very clear interest in the election and its outcome and has vowed to ensure that perpetrators are brought to book,” Nwagu said.
The Chairman, Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) Lanre Suraju, said it would be good to know why the party got the injunction to halt the hearing.
According to him, PDP would be doing even its own member a great deal of unfairness if it merely seeks to stop the investigation due to its rivalry with the current government.
He recalled that some of the party's members, who may have been affected by the violence that happened before, during and after the elections in the state also stand to benefit from the panel’s proceeding.
However, Legit.ng reader Yorks Ban, from the University of Port Harcourt accused the incumbent governor of incompetence.
“The truth is that Gov. Amaechi is not qualified to set up panel of inquiry because he (APC leader) and APC members were grossly involved in electoral violence. On the election days the Gov. himself was seen moving round different LGAs and from one polling booth to the other causing more violence. Will the commission be able to probe him? The role he played and all that? Of course the answer is no. So I think that it is only INEC that is constitutionally authorize to set up inquiry, because it has to do with election conducted by them,” Ban said.
The Commission of Inquiry, instituted by the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, is investigating the damages done to properties as well as grievous bodily harms done to electorates before, during and after the presidential and gubernatorial polls in the state.