Atiku, A Bonafide Nigerian, Witnesses Tell Tribunal

…as Buhari tenders counter video

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, is a bonafide Nigerian by birth and nationality, witnesses told the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on Tuesday.

Leading the team of the witnesses, a retired career diplomat, Ambassador Mabien Zamaki told the Justice Mohammed Garba led panel that Atiku was a bonafide Nigerian by birth and nationality and was therefore legally qualified to contest the presidential poll.

The ambassador in his evidence said that he was aware by detailed record that Atiku was born on November 25, 1946, at Jada in the northern part of Nigeria.

Led in evidence by Atiku’s lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche SAN, the retired career diplomat informed the tribunal that Atiku’s record in his former secondary School was not confidential and can be accessed by anyone doubting the nationality of the PDP presidential candidate.

The witness, who claimed to have retired from active service in 2006, admitted that he saw the record from the custodian of the record in their secondary school and that the record was still there for anybody to crosscheck.

Zamaki further told the tribunal that he has fair knowledge of history of Nigeria as it relates to Jada in Adamawa and insisted that in 1946 when Atiku was born, Jada was part and parcel of Northern Nigeria and not part of Cameroon as suggested by the APC’s counsel.

He vehemently denied that any part of Northern Nigeria including Jada was ever ceded to Cameroon.

Under cross examination by INEC lawyer, the witness confessed that he was not at the point where Atiku was born but admitted that Major General Muhammadu Buhari was military ruler between 1983 and 1985.

Another witness, Mohammed Kabir Hayatu, a retired Customs Officer, corroborated the Nigerian nationality of the former vice president.

Hayatu told the tribunal that he came in contact with Atiku’s record in the Nigerian Customs Service where Atiku retired as a senior Customs Officer.

Under cross examination, Hayatu said that Adamawa was part of Northern Nigeria and that Jada fell on the part of Nigeria and not Northern Cameroon.

Another witness for the petitioners, Peter Alli in his evidence, alleged that an official of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Abubakar Kaura, was found with the sum of $10,000 dollars on the day of election.

Ali, who said he was the ward collation officer, also alleged that the $10,000 was a bribe for the INEC officer to manipulate the outcome of the election results in the area of Nasarawa State.

Under cross examination by INEC counsel, Yunus Usman, SAN, Ali admitted he reported the matter to the police but was later transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Bureau for further investigation.

When asked if he knew whether anyone was charged for the said allegation, he affirmed he did not know and, even added that he doesn’t have any report concerning the outcome of the investigation.

Further, Ali said the allegation he declared before the tribunal was not hearsay evidence but claimed he was tipped off and personally witnessed the alleged $10,000 dollars found in the custody of the INEC officer.

The witness also asserted that out of the 24 units in the ward, he was only able to receive results of 23 units excluding the unit where the allegation was allegedly perpetrated.

Earlier, President Buhari had presented a video at the tribunal showing the chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu on February 6 in an interview on channels television talking about the challenges likely to be faced ahead of the election in the area of communication and transmission of election results.

The video clip was thereafter admitted in evidence with objection to be raised later by the petitioners at the address stage.

Before the tribunal proceeded on break, five witnesses had testified for the petitioners. They included Mabien Zamaki, Mohammed Hayatu, Likita Alli, Temago Sunday Anyamaga and Abubakar Sadiq Abdullahi from Adamawa and Nasarawa states.

The witnesses also revealed a litany of electoral malpractices including destruction of electoral materials, falsification, alteration and massive thumb printing of ballot papers at the February 23 presidential election in Nasarawa State.

At the resumption from break, Sunday John in his evidence told the tribunal that armed men later identified as APC agents struck at a polling unit in Karu Local Government Area and scattered the election materials and damaged the Smart Card Reader deployed for the election.

He said as a result of the violent attack, the election could not hold at the polling unit.

Another witness Harry Gunde also in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, alleged falsification and alteration of election results at the council, which according to him was carried out at the collation center and that it was reported to security personnel but no action was taken.

Others who also testified for Atiku and PDP are Mohammed Opaluwa, who alleged massive thumb printing of ballot papers for APC and Jonathan Nasara, a former councilor, who also alleged that election figures were allotted by APC agents and security personnel to parties in the election.


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