Presidential Tribunal: Atiku not Nigerian, dismiss his petition against Buhari’s victory – APC begs tribunal
The All Progressives Congress (APC) on Thursday prayed the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to strike out Atiku Abubakar’s petition against President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election because he is not a Nigerian by birth.
Abubakar, a former vice president, contested the Feb. 23 presidential election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The presidential candidate of the PDP and his party approached the tribunal seeking his declaration as the rightful winner of the election.
Mr Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, Counsel to the APC, spoke while responding to the petitioners’ motion seeking the striking out of APC’s reply to its petition.
“My Lords, I am opposing this application on the qualification of the first petitioner (Abubakar). I am standing by the proof we have supplied in our reply.
“The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the Feb.23 presidential election was not qualified to contest the election in the first place.
“I therefore, pray the tribunal to strike out the petitioners’ application for lacking in competence and merit,’’ Fagbemi said.
The third respondent (APC) insisted that Abubakar was not a citizen of Nigeria by birth and ought not to have even been allowed in the first place to contest the election.
Chief Chris Uche SAN, counsel for the petitioners, argued that historic records showed that the former vice president was a citizen of Nigeria by birth.
Uche, therefore, urged the panel to discountenance Fagbemi’s submission by granting the application.
The motion filed by the petitioners seeking access to inspect the server and other election materials used by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was also heard.
Uche had urged the tribunal to grant the application as doing so would be in the interest of justice and transparency.
Reports that the application was vehemently objected to by all counsels to the respondents.
On his part, Mr Yunus Usman, SAN, counsel for INEC, averred that the application was dead on arrival, adding that the electoral body did not collect the results of the election through a server.
“My Lord, the commission did not deploy such technology infrastructure in the last general election,’’ he said.
Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, Counsel for Buhari, said the application was laughable, adding that the Court of Appeal in Abuja had ruled against similar application brought to it by the same parties.
“We also wanted such information if the technology was used, but our application demanding access to the saver was dismissed. We have attached the enrolled order in our reply,” Olanipekun said.
Similarly, Fabgemi, counsel for APC, aligned himself with the argument advanced by Usman and Olanipekun, adding, however, that no provisions in the country’s statute books allowed the request made by the petitioners.
The APC had particularly faulted the claim by the petitioners that they obtained the authentic results of the election from a server maintained by INEC showing that they won.
The electoral body on Feb. 27 announced the second respondent (Buhari) of the APC, as winner of the election scoring 15,191,847 votes to defeat his closest rival, Atiku, with 11,262,978 votes.
However, the PDP, in an affidavit, claimed that its candidate instead polled a total of 18,356,732 votes, defeating Buhari who scored 16,741,430 votes.
Justice Mohammed Garba reserved ruling on the motions.
The judge went ahead to adjourn further proceedings on the petition until June 24.