Atiku: Poll Worst Since 1999, I’ll Challenge It
*Ex-VP reiterates belief in judiciary
*Obi accuses INEC of tampering with existing voters’ data
*APC tells ex-Anambra gov to accept olive branch or meet in court
*Dismisses PDP candidate as delusional, responsible for defeat
Chuks Okocha, Kingsley Nwezeh, Adedayo Akinwale, Emameh Gabriel in Abuja and Nume Ekeghe in Lagos
Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, who was visibly devastated to the point that he cried on national television, albeit maintaining decent composure, yesterday, insisted he won last Saturday’s presidential election and would not only challenge it, but would prove he actually won it.
Obi, who also boasted about his confidence in the judiciary, citing his experience as governor, insisted he would prove to the court how he won the election, even as he accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of tampering with existing data of voters.
In equal breath, Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, for the first time, reacted to the outcome of the exercise, which he claimed was not only flawed, but the worst since 1999 and as such, must be challenged.
Atiku, who reiterated his confidence in the judiciary, by recounting his ordeal as vice-president, when he took his principal, Olusegun Obasanjo, to court eleven times and won all of the 11 times, refused to meet a reconciliatory team of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bola Tinubu, who visited him yesterday, saying he had no knowledge they visited him.
The two presidential hopefuls, who came second and third after results of the presidential election was announced by the INEC, spoke at separate world conferences in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Meanwhile, the APC Presidential Campaign Council, has asked Obi to either accept the olive branch extended to him by Tinubu or meet its lawyers in court, while at the same time, dismissed Atiku’s claims on the election as delusional, because he reaped what he sowed after allegedly causing division in his party.
Obi: We’ll Prove to the World We Won the Presidential Election
Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, yesterday, said his party would head to the court with enough evidence to prove that it was robbed of its victory at the presidential election.
Obi, at a world press conference attended by local and international journalists at Transcorp Hotel, Abuja, alleged manipulation of voters’ data by people in authority, even as he confirmed working with the PDP and other aggrieved political parties, as well as members of the public, while calling on his supporters to remain law-abiding and focused on next week’s elections across the states of the federation.
He said, “The election was conducted and results announced as programmed” by INEC, adding that, “It’s a clear variance of the electoral rules and guidelines as we were promised. This election, as you know, did not meet the minimum standard which was expected to be free, fair and credible. It is now the most controversial elections ever conducted in Nigeria.
“The good and hardworking people of Nigeria have again been robbed by our supposed leaders, who we trusted. However let me appeal to all Nigerians to remain peaceful and be law-abiding and conduct themselves in the most responsible manner. Please, be assure that Datti and I, and indeed all of us that this is not the end but the beginning of journey to the birth of a better Nigeria.
“The process through which you go into office is far more fundamental. It’s my belief that, if want to bear your Excellency, the process at which to arrive at it must be excellent. It must now require that we do the right thing in order to generate the right confidence and moral authority.
“I assure you the good people of Nigeria that we would explore all legal and peaceful options to regain our mandate. We won the election and I will prove it to Nigerians. For those who believe that a new Nigeria is possible, I want to say to them that a new Nigeria is possible and I will work for that new Nigeria to be possible. Your resilience, your hard work for a new Nigeria will not be in vein. Datti and I remain committed to that new Nigeria.
“The commitment of Nigerians in the face of unwarranted attacks is a testimony that a new Nigeria is really possible. I look at people like lady Jennifer, who was stabbed but insisted that she must vote and that gives me courage to believe that a new Nigeria is possible.”
Asked if there was enough evidence to back his claims, he said: “We are not yet in court. That is why they persist and they asked me to go to court. I don’t want to answer questions. I am on my way to court.
“If I tell you all these I don’t know what I will be telling the court. We have passed that stage,because we were asked to go to court. So, let’s go there. Remember that I am obidient. I am going to go where I am directed to go.”
On how voters’ register was tampered with, he gave a breakdown of the number of registered voters and votes cast by Nigerians since 2015 according to INEC reports, and vowed that he would dismantle the rascality as exhibited by “those in authority”.
He said, “In 2015, the number of registered voters was about 67 million and 29.4 million voted. In 2019, the figures increased to about 84 million and about 28.4 million voted. And then we were told that about 11 million registered in 2022, which brought the registration to about 95 million and 87 collected their PVCs but only 23.3 million voted.
“You can see how Nigeria works. We had increase of 11 million but the voters dropped by over 20%. The reason was due to manipulation and deduction of votes. The number was supposed to increase but it didn’t increase because people were busy doing what is wrong. I will challenge this rascality for the future of the country. Nigeria cannot conduct election 63 years after independence.
“We are not in alliance not in alliance but we are discussing partnership with other people and many other Nigerians, who feel hurt as we do. I believe process in which people should get to anywhere should be respected,” he said, reiterating his confidence in the judiciary, and boasting that he had never failed in all his bid to get redress from the court.
Obi said: “I am going to get justice. All these while they tell me about the integrity of the judiciary. From 2003, I have always been to court. I was there three years to redeem my mandate.
“I was to come back from impeachment and in all, I was successful. Without them in anyway compromising, I have never in anyway knowingly compromised any officer or any process because I believe they are doing their job. So, I must go there with the right thing.”
Atiku: Poll Worst Since 1999, I’ll Challenge It
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, who spoke at a world press conference held at the Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja, said his lawyers were still studying the details of the declared results, and restated his belief in the judiciary as he had done in the past, adding that, if he did not get a favourable judgement from the judiciary, he would further appeal to God.
His words: “Having consulted with leaders of our party and Nigerians from different walks of life, I have come to the conclusion that the processes and outcome of the Presidential and National Assembly election of last Saturday was grossly flawed in every material particular, and as such must be challenged.
“This has been attested to by both local and international observers. I want to believe that this was not the legacy that President Muhammadu Buhari had promised. For President Buhari, it is not too late to make amends for the good of our country and the future generations and indeed to assure his legacy.
”I know that Nigerians, especially the youth, are traumatised by the developments, but I want to urge them to conduct themselves peacefully. Like I have done over the years, I assure you that I will commit the rest of my life in ensuring that true democracy, which affirms the supremacy of your votes and your will, will take firm footing and guarantee a stable, prosperous and peaceful Nigeria. This is more so as Nigeria represents the hope of Africa and the Black World.
“It is my hope that the judiciary will redeem itself this time around and rise to the society’s expectation as the last HOPE. In the end, who wins is not as important as the credibility of our elections and electoral processes,” Atiku stated.
According to him, “This battle to right the wrongs of Saturday is not about me. It is a continuation of my battles to deepen democracy and for a better life for our people. It is about the future of Nigerian youths.”
Atiku, who lamented the alleged manipulation during the presidential election, said, “…The dreams and aspirations of Nigerians, who braced all the challenges to go and cast their votes on Saturday, 25th of February, 2023, were shattered by the conduct of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which failed to live up to expectations.
“The weekend election was neither free nor fair. Preliminary assessments indicate that it is the worst conducted elections since the return to democratic rule. The manipulation and fraud that attended this election was unprecedented in the history of our nation.
“I can still not understand why the electoral umpire was in such a hurry to conclude collation and announcement of the result, given the number of complaints of irregularities of bypassing of the BVAS, failure of uploading to the IREV, and unprecedented cancellations and disenfranchisement of millions of voters in breach of the Electoral Act and the commission’s own guidelines. It was indeed a rape of democracy.
“The 2023 presidential election presented our nation and its people the greatest opportunity for a reset. We had everything going for us: a legal framework in the 2022 Electoral Act and the BVAS technology. The enthusiasm of Nigerians to turn out and in large numbers was an added bonus.”
Recalling his fight to enthrone democracy, Atiku said, “Our fight to enthrone democracy continued. Indeed, the motivating factor for the birth of the Peoples Democratic Party was to force the exit of the military from government and their permanent return to the military barracks.
“Following the exit of the military and the advent of democratic rule in 1999, I did not rest on my oars. I deployed the same level of commitment to advance and deepen our democracy. I did this because our democracy was bought at a huge price of human lives.
“My mentor and true Nigerian hero, who this venue in which we are gathered this evening is named after, was one of those who paid the ultimate price in that battle. So, also was Chief Alfred Rewane, Chief MKO Abiola and his dear wife, Chief (Mrs) Kudirat Abiola.
“It was also for this reason that I sacrificed my political aspiration and fought against the actualisation of Third Term. Whether during the military or civilian era, I have, no matter how inconvenient, pitched my tent with the people against dictators.
“During the military regime, it nearly cost me my life and the near decimation of my businesses. In the civilian administration, it had serious adverse implications on my political life. But I have remained undaunted because I was, and still convinced, that the only reason why I am in politics is to work in tandem with other compatriots in the advancement of the wellbeing of the people.”
Continuing, Atiku posited that, “I have in the last three decades devoted my life to the battle to birth and deepen democracy in our country. It was a battle that started during the military era. It was a struggle that nearly caused me my life and that of my son, Adamu, in Kaduna. I survived the assassination only by the mercies and grace of God.
“Following that attack, I was forced into exile. But that attack claimed the precious lives of some police officers. That was not all, my businesses were nearly crippled and my signature business was eventually appropriated by the maximum ruler of that era. My commitment to enthroning democracy ensured that I joined forces with other compatriots.”
Expressing his belief in the judiciary without any financial gratification, he said he was in court for eleven times against former Obasanjo and believed that he would get justice as was in the past.
He also accepted that Obi was a little hasty to leave the party, because he stayed back and fought the governors.
PDP Rejects Tinubu’s Return as President-elect
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP, yesterday, rejected in its entirety, the declaration and return of Tinubu, as president-elect by INEC.
In a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, the PDP demanded that INEC immediately withdraws the Certificate of Return and cancels the presidential election declaration in line with its powers under Section 65 of the Electoral Act 2022.
The party insisted that INEC, in declaring the APC candidate winner, acted contrary to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act 2022 and the INEC Guidelines and Regulations for the conduct of the 2023 Presidential election.
The PDP held that its candidate, Atiku, won the election having evidently scored the majority of lawful votes cast by Nigerians at the polling units.
“Sadly, the election was marred by deliberate malpractices including the non-use of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and INEC’s refusal/failure to transmit directly the results from Polling Units to its Server/Website in flagrant violation of Section 60 (4)(b) of the Electoral Act 2022.
“This violation of the Electoral Act by INEC as attested to by political parties, voters, Nigerians of all walks of life as well as local and International Observers, paved the way for the alteration, falsification, switching of results and allocation of figures in favour of the APC.
“Nigerians can recall how on Friday, November 11, 2022, INEC through its National Commissioner and Chairman of INEC’ Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, assured that results will be transmitted directly from the Polling Units to ensure the integrity and credibility of election results in Nigeria,” he stressed.
APC-PCC to Obi: Accept Olive Branch or We Meet in Court
The APC PCC has challenged the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi, to either accept the olive branch extended to it by Tinubu or they would meet in court if he remained aggrieved.
The Director, Media and Publicity, Bayo Onanuga, in a statement issued yesterday said the ruling party welcomed the decision of Obi to seek redress in court as an aggrieved party if he was convinced of the evidence of electoral fraud he would present before the tribunal as alleged.
He noted that going to court was part of the electoral process, and that it was the most decent, statesmanlike and civilised course of action to take.
Onanuga, who said the APC saluted the decision, noted that it was better than calling supporters to the streets and instigating social unrest, stressing: “Before Mr. Obi goes to court, we consider it necessary to challenge some specific claims in his press address. Contrary to his statement, it is not true that the election held 25 February was not free and fair.”
He explained that the 2023 election was one of the most transparent and peaceful elections in the history of Nigeria, adding that it was because the process was credible that made it possible for Obi to record the over six million votes contrary to pre-election forecasts.
But in a different statement by another spokesperson of the campaign, Festus Keyamo, APC-PCC urged Obi to accept the hand of fellowship extended to him by Tinubu and stop grandstanding.
Keyamo said Obi knew that he did not win but he was busy making outlandish claims in order to delegitimise the mandate freely given to Tinubu by the majority of Nigerians.
He stressed that Obi was always quick to cite some isolated incidents of irregularities outside his strongholds that could not have substantially affected the outcome of the results in those areas, whereas he deliberately failed to comment on tons and tons of evidence circulating everywhere wherein his supporters in his strongholds engaged in thuggery, hooliganism, violence and outright falsification of figures against our Party and our supporters.”
Yet, in another statement by Keyamo, the APC-PCC said Atiku at his press conference made bogus claim without providing a shred of evidence, except to trumpet the noise made by his supporters on social media.
While saying Atiku also went ahead to make unfounded derogatory comments about Tinubu in obvious bitterness and frustration, he advised the former vice-president to stop being delusional because he reaped the delusion he caused in his party.
“Alhaji Atiku Abubakar should be thankful that he even exceeded expectations in the elections by coming 2nd; with all the distractions and fractured party with which he campaigned, he must have sensed beforehand that he was headed for a humiliating defeat that should have put him a distant 3rd or 4th in the elections. His performance was therefore the best he could achieve.
“Firstly, Atiku Abubakar breached the zoning principle within his own party by insisting on running for President, when that was clearly against the mood of the nation; even after emerging as a candidate, the PDP itself continued to rub insult on the faces of southern leaders in the party by insisting on keeping the position of National Chairman in the North.
“This obviously led to the rebellion of the G5 Governors and their subsequent sabotage of the PDP before the polls and at the polls by campaigning against Atiku’s candidature. His failure to unite his party and manage this post-primaries fall-out was his eventual undoing.”