Sunday, February 25, 2024

Presidential polls didn’t meet minimum requirement of free, fair elections – Atiku’s spokesman

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, on Friday closed his case against President Bola Tinubu at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal. Atiku was seeking to be declared winner of the February 25 presidential election. In this interview with MAYOWA SAMUEL, spokesperson for Atiku, Paul Ibe, shared his thoughts on the proceedings so far and his expectations. Excerpts:

The PDP and Atiku on Friday closed their case against Bola Tinubu as they challenged his declaration as president by INEC. The tribunal thereafter adjourned further hearing to July 3 for the respondents (Tinubu, INEC and APC) to start their defence. What’s your take on the proceedings so far at the tribunal?

Since the start of the presidential election petition tribunal, we’ve seen robust evidence and litigation against their noncompliance in the conduct of the election, which even INEC itself couldn’t submit to the minimum requirement of what they said they were going to do in terms of the BIVAS and the electronic transmission of the results.

This was a mechanism that was meant to eliminate, as much as possible, allocation of votes that we’ve seen in the past.

For whatever reason, it was clear that there was manipulation and we’ve shown that, based on the findings. We also mentioned that what INEC subscribed to, there was no glitch.

What we had was a human glitch and a manipulation of that particular process. So, it was clear that the election didn’t meet the minimum requirement of a free and fair election. We’ve shown that, with evidence, we’ve shown that with the witnesses that we brought.

The other leg of it is that Tinubu wasn’t even qualified to contest the election. You’ve seen the laws of exhibits and evidence, they agree to the fact that apart from being a Nigerian citizen, contrary to the laws of our land, he also holds the citizenship of another country, that’s Guinea.

He has shown, even in the records of admission, from the college where he had attended, the Chicago State University, that what we saw in that record was a female. So, the question you’ll begin to ask is that was Bola Tinubu at some point in time, a woman before he became a man? If you look at all of that, there must have been something untoward.

One of your party’s subpoenaed witnesses, Mike Enahoro-Ebah, brought some of Tinubu’s documents consisting of his B.Sc. certificate from Chicago State University, his NYSC discharge certificate, and a Mobil Nigeria Oil Plc certificate of service. The witness revealed that the documents were purportedly obtained by Tinubu but bore the name ‘Bola Adekunle Tinubu’…

Yes. Those records were tendered on Thursday and that was his NYSC certificate. That puts it clearly the man that we’re talking about. There’s no aspect of his life that hasn’t been controversial. Whether it’s his academic records, personal life, sojourn in the U.S, and all of that.

There’s no doubt about it that we’ve been able to prove beyond every reasonable doubt that this election can’t stand and that the election was a scam, as far as we’re concerned.

INEC should be ashamed of itself that what it promised Nigerians that it was going to do, it never delivered on that promise. It’s up to the court and the justices to make a determination and ensure that justice is done if we really want to deepen this democracy because the election is what affirms our democracy.

If we don’t get it right, there’ll be no confidence in the electoral process, and I believe that’s not what we want to achieve after all the money that’s been expended on the election. We should have just selected anybody if we wanted, without having to waste resources that were not even there in the first place.

Following the disappointment that followed the outcome of the presidential election, many have urged President Tinubu to amend the Electoral Law to prevent a repeat of this disappointment. Considering the claim by Atiku and Obi that the election was rigged in Tinubu’s favour, do you expect the president to yield to this call?

What kind of amendment are they talking about? You’re talking about a man whose election was a product of illegality. How can you trust a thief with money?

We’re awaiting the outcome of what the justices are going to make. Tinubu is not in any position to make any amendment. He’s the product of an illegality.

He’s the product of a sham, and that’s not what Nigerians signed up for when they went to the polls on February 25.

That election can’t stand; it didn’t meet the minimum requirement the Nigerian electoral act stipulated, not in the process and the outcome.

“That election can’t stand; it didn’t meet the minimum requirement the Nigerian electoral act stipulated, not in the process and the outcome

The Labour Party complained to the justices that INEC refused to give them some important documents they requested to further prove their case at the tribunal, which the electoral body’s counsel however denied. How was the cooperation of the electoral body and your party in this same regard?

Well, it was the same thing. That’s the character of INEC and the character of Prof. Mahmood that we have had to contend with. Nothing changed; it was the same treatment that the PDP got.

That clearly showed that they had lots of things to hide because if you didn’t have anything to hide, you should be able to provide documents in line with the directive of the court, but they didn’t do that. However, we were still able to get the records we got, independent of them.

Almost all the evidence brought by your party and even the LP were opposed to by the respondents, to prevent them from being admitted by the court. Do you smell a rat following their consistent action at the tribunal?

We’re not surprised by that, even if they oppose that Bola Ahmed Tinubu is not Bola Ahmed Tinubu. It’s just a charade. Even though the lawyers had agreed in the pre-election that they had that certified documents from INEC should be allowed to be presented without any rancour, they still went ahead to do that for whatever reasons.

But in the wisdom of the court, they decided to admit those documents. When they don’t have any case, they resort to technicalities. I believe that they were trying to hide under technicalities to deny the court the opportunity to hear the substance of the matter which wasn’t how it was supposed to go about.

If at the end of the day, the tribunal rules in favour of the president, what will be the next line of action, despite all the strong evidence your party had presented in the court to prove its case against him?

As a democrat, Atiku had submitted himself to the process, that’s why he’s in court. It’s ironic that people, who asked that we should go to court, are now asking that we should leave the court.

The question we’re now asking is, do they want us to go to the streets? Is that what they want? He has submitted himself to the process, and like I told you, we await the court to make a pronouncement after reviewing all the evidence and documents that we’ve presented to them.

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