- He ought not to have taken part in Nigeria’s presidential election in the first instance
- It is idiotic, shameful and disrespectful, says Atiku Media
Alex Enumah in Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has told the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja that former vice president Atiku Abubakar cum the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23 presidential election is not a Nigerian.
The allegation was made about three weeks after the former vice president got the nod of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to serve his petition against the outcome of the presidential election on the All Progressives Congress (APC) and winner of the poll, President Muhammadu Buhari.
The ruling APC in its formal response to Atiku’s petition cited by THISDAY, declared that in the first instance, he (Atiku) was not eligible to contest the election on grounds of his nationality.
In a swift reaction last night, Atiku, through his media adviser, Mr. Paul Ibe, described APC’s response as idiotic, shameful and disrespectful to the office he once occupied as vice president of Nigeria.
According to the APC, since the former vice president is a Cameroonian and not a Nigerian citizen, his petition against Buhari, should therefore be dismissed for lacking in merit.
Atiku and the PDP had on March 19, 2019, filed the petition against the declaration of Buhari as winner of the February 23 poll.
Their petition which was anchored on five grounds, prayed the tribunal to annul Buhari’s victory on grounds that the election was characterised by widespread rigging, violence and substantial non-compliance with electoral laws.
They also urged the tribunal to disqualify Buhari over alleged non possession of requisite academic qualification for the office of president.
However in its response, the APC urged the tribunal to void and considered as waste, the 11.1m votes recorded in favour of the petitioners.
The APC’s position filed by its lead counsel, Lateef Fagbemi SAN, faulted the candidacy of Atiku in the election, insisting that as a Cameroonian, he ought not to have taken part in Nigeria’s presidential election in the first instance.
Specifically, the APC in the reply averred that, Atiku was born on November 25, 1946 in Jada, Adamawa in Northern Cameroon and is therefore a citizen of Cameroon and not a Nigerian by birth.
The party further claimed that prior to 1919, Cameroon was being administered by Germany and that following the defeat of Germany in the world war 1, which ended in 1918, Cameroon became a league of nation’s mandate territory which was split into French Cameroon and British Cameroon in 1919.
APC further argued that in 1961, a plebiscite was held in British Cameroon to determine whether the people preferred to stay in Cameroon or aligned with Nigeria.
According to the party, while northern Cameroon preferred a union with Nigeria the southern Cameroon chose alignment with the mother country and that it was a result of the plebiscite that northern Cameroon which included Adamawa became a part of Nigeria.
The APC therefore said that contrary to the assertion of Atiku in his petition, he (Atiku) had no right to be voted for as a candidate in the election to the office of president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on February 23, 2019.
The party averred that by reason of Atiku not having qualified to contest the election, all votes purportedly cast for him and PDP in the February 23 election were wasted votes.
Besides the issue of nationality, the APC asserted that most of the claims contained in Atiku’s petition had become statute barred and that the tribunal is not the appropriate forum to entertain same,
Furthermore, the APC said that the issue of educational qualification of the president-elect, raised by Atiku cannot be treated by the tribunal because the period for claims and objections on such issues had expired and that the petitioners failed and neglected to use the period to challenge the validity of the educational qualification of Buhari as contained in the form CF001 submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
According to the party, since the petitioners have waved their rights to challenge the propriety of information contained in the form CF001, their petition no longer disclose any reasonable cause of action.
APC also faulted the allegation of non-compliance with relevant laws made by Atiku and PDP, adding that their failure to make specific references to the compliance issue has fatal effect on the petition and therefore the petition has no enough material to justify the grounds of any relief sought.
Atiku had in his petition faulted the conduct of the February 23 presidential election on grounds of non-compliance with the electoral laws and other malpractices like intimidation of voters, unlawful arrest of his supporters and harassment by soldiers and police and other security agents of those wishing to vote for him.
He claimed to have scored the majority lawful votes and prayed the tribunal to declare him the winner of the election.
In the alternative, the PDP presidential candidate prayed for an order cancelling the election and directing INEC to conduct a fresh one which will conform to relevant laws.
But the APC in its response argued that failure of Atiku to join the Nigerian Army, Police and other security agencies who performed the alleged harassment and intimidation as defendants in the petition to establish his claim, is fatal to the petition and that the claims should be struck out.
The party therefore prayed the tribunal to uphold the victory of its candidate, President Buhari who polled 15, 191, 847 votes to emerge winner and his subsequent declaration as president-elect by INEC, while also urging that the petition against the victory should be dismissed for having no cause of action.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the petition.
It Idiotic, Says Atiku
Meanwhile, Mr. Ibe, who spoke for his principal, Atiku, described remarks that the former vice president is a Cameroonian as “idiotic, shameful and disrespectful of the office he had occupied as vice president of Nigeria.
He continued: “It is disrespectful of the office Osinbajo occupies and others will still occupy in the future. This is the downside of excluding history as a subject in our schools. The APC is unaware that those in the defunct Northern Cameroon became Nigerian citizen a long time ago after a plebiscite. Are they trying to rewrite history or is this a case of dementia? It shows that the APC has no defence in this case. We are hopeful that the judiciary will dispense justice fairly.”