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Atiku’s petition, Buhari’s defence and INEC’s righteousness

Blasius Malisa

Sept. 17, 2019

Since the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 Presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, submitted his petition in which he contested the results and the conduct of the exercise, there has been all sorts of comments especially from the respondents, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Judging from their comments, including those contained in their response to Atiku’s petition, one can only thank God for the existence of the institution called judiciary as an arm of government globally. The world and life would have been a jungle without the institution which has been described as the last hope of the common man and I add “the uncommon man”. It would have been a scenario where the weak preys on the strong at will.
It is so shocking that responses from INEC and APC have been described as evasive, inconsistent, digressive, a distraction such that they are laced with denials and impunity which has brought to the fore the argument that the 2019 Presidential election was deliberately rigged based on the belief that the losers will keep quiet after results have been announced and that nothing will happen if they go to court since the judiciary is under the control of the government of the day.
If those who hatched and implemented what has been described as the most massive rigging ever recorded in the history of elections in Nigeria knew what they were doing and understood the strong character of their opponents in the election, they would have thought twice knowing full well that some of them, including Atiku will seek redress in court.
From replies submitted from INEC and APC, it is obvious that the two respondents are not really prepared for the battle ahead in respect of the allegations raised by Atiku/PDP in their petition, otherwise how would an allegation that President Muhammadu Buhari did not qualify for the 2019 Presidential election because he does not have a WAEC certificate and that he swore to an oath that he has the document attract a response that Atiku Abubakar also did not qualify to occupy such position because he is not a Nigerian and that the Senior Advocate leading his legal team is not licensed to practice law.
This embarrassing response which is the handiwork of senior advocates and other senior lawyers assembled by the two respondents sounds like the response from Adam when God asked him in the Garden of Eden to identify his location and he responded saying he was naked. There is no correlation between the question and the answer. It turned out that Adam was so guilty that he never knew when he gave a response that was off-the-point.
If not for comic relief, how can Atiku Abubakar whose ancestry took root in Sokoto be described as a foreigner. Those who made this allegation seem to forget that Atiku enjoyed the scholarship of Northern Nigeria; except they are saying that the Northern Nigeria government also trained children of foreigners. It is also amazing that a man who has invested so much in the development of the country can be described as such by the so-called free-born who have contributed little or nothing to the development of Nigeria. Atiku was a Deputy Director in Nigeria Customs Service before he retired, elected governor of Adamawa State and Vice President for eight years. His classmates, childhood friends and kinsmen in Jada and Ganye communities in Adamawa State are very much alive and around.
By the way and in real terms who is originally a Nigerian? The name Nigeria was a contraption and a name given to the geographical entity in the Niger Area by the colonial masters who sowed the seed of discord among ethnic nationalities that made up the entity before granting it independence in 1960. Nigeria is still suffering from their mischief caused by the mismatch.
Anyway, dwelling on this allegation is mere dissipation of energy after spokesman of the APC, Festus Keyamo, a Senior Advocate and one of the crafters of the allegation, said on national TV that APC wants to try the allegation in court based on what he described as security information which may have not been seen all these years even by former President Olusegun Obasanjo when he wanted to dispense of Atiku by all means for denying him the opportunity of a third term in office as President. This allegation leads to a conclusion that APC is not even sure of what it wants and what it is doing and that the party has already shot itself on the foot even before proceedings commence at the election tribunal.
As serial comedians and in an effort to score even with Atiku, INEC lawyers claim that Atiku’s lead counsel, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, a Senior Advocate of 20 years standing, is not licensed to practice in Nigeria. That allegation is, to say the least, idiotic. It is on record that in his confirmation document as a SAN, the name Dr. Livy Uzoukwu was used.
On the card reader, INEC said in its response that the equipment was only for “authentication of voters”. This is quite revealing in the sense that INEC spokesman, Festus Okoye, and the Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu confirmed at several fora that “the Smart Card Reader has become an integral part of the electoral process and will be deployed for the conduct of the 2019 general election.” and that “the upgraded Smart Card Reader is faster, more robust and has new features that enable it to store additional data and transmit results.”
The billion Naira question is why make the government to spend whopping N27 billion of taxpayers’ money improving the technologies for the 2019 elections when the commission knew that it will not use the features embedded in the equipment? Why did the commission change its mind not to use the reader to transmit results? What then is at the bank end?
On President Buhari’s qualification, INEC in its response said in one sentence that it “is satisfied with the educational qualification presented to contest for office.” There was no attachment of any sort to show what was presented.
Going by the rule of engagements for petitions of this nature, respondent must mandatorily front load supportive documents especially when INEC as a regulatory body is the custodian of all election materials. This evasive style was also adopted by APC in its reply.
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