Godwin Tsa, Abuja
As tension mounts ahead of the judgment to be delivered by the presidential election petition tribunal, the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23 election, Atiku Abubakar, and his party have called on the tribunal to determine the petition on its merit rather than technicalities.
While calling on the tribunal to ensure substantial justice, the petitioners insisted that President Muhammadu Buhari was not qualified to have contested the election and as such should be disqualified by the tribunal.
One of the senior lawyers in Atiku’s legal team, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), said it was the expectation of his client “that the judiciary, as the last hope of the common man, will be dauntless in addressing the substance of the petition by the peoples’ candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the collective quest to retrieve a stolen mandate through the legal process.
“We have made a solid case before the panel. Our client, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has also presented his case supported by credible evidence. We had presented incontrovertible evidence to show that our presidential mandate was stolen. Every Nigerian now looks on to the judicial officers for justice.
“Nigerians are waiting and hoping that the judiciary will have the courage to do justice in the presidential election petition.”
Recalled that the petitioners had in their final written addresses said the three respondents to the petition could not present a credible defense.
Besides, the petitioners equally insisted that they had proved all allegations contained in their petition against the conduct of the February 23 presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In a 43-page final address filed by their lead counsel, Dr. Levy Uzoukwu SAN, Atiku, and PDP claimed to have established the fact that Buhari does not possess the requisite academic qualification for the position of president.
The petitioners said even Buhari’s own witnesses under cross-examination admitted to the fact that Buhari does not possess a school certificate, being the basic requirement for contesting for the office of the president.
“We, therefore, submit that all the purported evidence led by the 2nd respondent (Buhari) to prove that he attended a secondary school or a primary school or that he attended some courses, is irrelevant because he did not rely on any of those purported qualifications in exhibit P1, he relied on primary school certificate, WASC and Officer Cadet (certificates).
“Equally futile is his attempt to prove that he can speak and write in the English language. That is all irrelevant to his inability to produce his primary school certificate, secondary school certificate or WASC and his Officer Cadet qualification, whatever that means. Officer Cadet is not a qualification or certificate under the Constitution and Electoral Act, nor is it known to any law.
On the purported Cambridge University certificate tendered by Buhari before the tribunal, the petitioners asked why “it was easier for Buhari to go all the way to Cambridge in the United Kingdom to obtain a bogus document that his own witnesses said was not a certificate, instead of just driving down the street in Abuja to the Army Headquarters or placing a phone call to the Secretary of the Military Board in Abuja to hurry over with his certificate or certificates.”
Still on the Cambridge University documents, the petitioners submitted that, “a comparison of the purported Cambridge Assessment International Education Certifying Statement of the purported West African Examination Council (WAEC) certificate and a certified true copy of the purported confidential result sheet of the University of Cambridge West African School Certificate of 1961 for the Provincial Secondary School, katsina revealed many discrepancies in the supposed result.
“One listed 8 subjects that the candidate therein mentioned one ‘Mohamed Buhari’ allegedly sat for, the other 6 subjects, both documents are therefore unreliable as both cannot be correct. The contradiction must count against the 2nd respondent.
Another false claim by Buhari, according to the petitioners is that he attended, “Elementary School, Daura and Mai Aduwa 1948-52. Elementary School Daura is totally different from Mai Aduwa, their locations are totally different. He also claimed he entered Middle School Katsina in 1953, however, the petitioners submitted that by 1953, the Middle School system had been abolished in the northern region of Nigeria.”
On the claim that his certificates were with the military, the petitioners submitted that Buhari failed woefully to prove the claim, “rather the petitioners’ evidence to the contrary was not contested nor challenged.
“It is also the case of the petitioners that they have successfully proved that the Nigerian Army had denied being in possession of Buhari’s alleged certificates.
“One of the strongest evidence on the issue was given by the second respondent’s own witness, RW1, General Paul Tafa, (rtd), who under cross-examination by the 1st respondent (INEC), told the court firmly and unequivocally that the army did not collect the certificates of military officers and added, ‘there was no such thing.”
On the issue of rigging and non-compliance with the Electoral Act, the petitioners said with the plethora of evidence tendered and witnesses called, they had been able to show to the tribunal that Buhari’s election was invalid.
They added that analysis of results from 11 states showed how INEC in connivance with Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) wrongly and unlawfully credited Buhari with votes not valid or lawful.
According to them, documents tendered before the tribunal showed huge discrepancies between collated results as contained in the tendered Certified True Copies of forms EC8A and polling units.
They further alleged that a total of 2, 906,384 votes were cancelled across the country, while 2, 698,773 Nigerians were disenfranchised.
They said the two figures when added exceeded the 3, 928,869 differential between the votes as stated in INEC form EC8E.