Election: Buhari Gave False Information To Secure Qualification, Says Atiku As Tribunal Reserves Judgment
Muhammadu Buhari resorted to fundamental falsehood to secure clearance from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to participate in the February 23 poll, Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP) in the February 23 presidential election on Wednesday pointedly told the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
Atiku in his final address insisted that Buhari, as candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) lied on oath in his form CF001 presented to INEC before standing for the presidential election.
In the final address presented on his behalf by his lead counsel, Dr Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), Atiku drew the attention of the Tribunal to a portion of his INEC form where he claimed to have three different certificates namely Primary School leaving certificate, WAEC certificate and Officers Cadet certificate.
The petitioners said it was shocking and surprising that, “No provisional certificate, no certified true copy of the certificates, no photocopy of certificates and in fact no electronic version of any of the certificates was presented by Buhari throughout the hearing of the petition to dispute the claim of the petitioners.
“More worrisome is the fact that Buhari’s own witness Major General Paul Tafa Retd, who joined the Nigerian Army with him in 1962 told the tribunal that they were never asked to submit their certificates to the Nigerian Army Board as claimed by Buhari in his form CF001.
“At any rate, the Secretary of the Nigerian Army Board, Olatunde Olaleye had in a statement clarified that Buhari had no single certificate in his personal file with the Nigerian Army”.
Atiku therefore urged the tribunal to nullify the participation of Buhari in the election on the grounds that Buhari lied on oath to deceive Nigerians and to secure unlawful qualification for the election.
The former Vice President informed the tribunal that the claim of Buhari that he could read and write in English language as enough qualification for him was of no consequence because ordinary artisans on the streets of Nigeria could also do so, adding that a grave allegation bordering on certificate was not addressed by Buhari as required by law.
The PDP presidential candidate also faulted the claim of INEC that it had no central server, adding that server is a storage facility including computer where database of registered voters, number of permanent voter card and election results, amongst others are stored for references.
He said the claim by INEC that it had no device like server to store information, “is laughable, tragic and a story for the dogs”.
He debunked the claim of INEC that collation and transmission of results electronically was prohibited by law in Nigeria.
He asserted that by the Electoral Amendment Act of March 26, 2015, the use of electronics became law and was officially gazetted for the country, adding that Section 9 of the Act which made provision for electronic collation of results replaced Section 52 which hitherto prohibited the use of electronics and which INEC erroneously held that electronic results transmission is prohibited.
He therefore urged the tribunal to uphold the petition and nullify the participation of Buhari in the election on the grounds that he was not qualified to have stood for the election, in addition to malpractices that prompted his declaration as winner of the election.
But the respondents – the Independent National Electoral Commission, represented by Yunus Usman (SAN), Buhari, whose legal team was led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), and the All Progressives Congress represented by Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) – urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition for lacking in merit.
The petitioners had called 62 witnesses to prove their case.
While the INEC and the APC called none, Buhari called seven in defence.
Speaking with journalists after the proceedings, counsel to Atiku, Dr Livy Uzoukwu insisted that Atiku’s petition would in one way or the other expand jurisprudence in electoral matters in the country.
He said his team has presented a very good case and that it was now left to the court to do justice.
Meanwhile, the five-man Tribunal led by Justice Mohammed Garba, after taking the final submissions of the parties, reserved its judgment on the petition.
Justice Garba said the date for judgment would be communicated to the parties through their lawyers.
“Judgment in this petition is hereby reserved and will be delivered on the date to be sent to counsel for the parties,” Justice Garba said.