The All Progressives Congress (APC) has told the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal that the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the poll, Atiku Abubakar, is not a Nigerian and therefore not qualified to have contested for the election.
The party claimed that the former Vice President is a Camerounian and not a Nigerian citizen and his petition against Muhammadu Buhari, candidate of the APC, should be dismissed for lacking in merit. In a reply to the petition of Atiku and the PDP, which prayed for their declaration as the lawful winners of the presidential poll, the APC said that the 11.1 million votes recorded in favour of the two petitioners should be voided and considered a waste by the Tribunal.
The position of the APC filed by its lead counsel, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), faulted the candidacy of Atiku in the election insisting that as a Camerounian, he ought not to have taken part in the presidential poll of Nigeria in the first instance.The party claimed that Atiku was born on November 25, 1946 in Jada, Adamawa, in Northern Cameroun and is, therefore, a citizen of Cameroun and not a Nigerian by birth.
The APC, in a historical analysis of the nationality controversy, claimed that prior to 1919, Cameroon was being administered by Germany and that following the defeat of Germany in World War 1, which ended in 1918, Cameroun became part of a League of Nations mandate territory which consisted of French Cameroun and British Cameroun in 1919. APC further argued that in 1961, a plebiscite was held in British Cameroon to determine whether the people preferred to stay in Cameroun or align with Nigeria.
According to the party, while Northern Cameroun preferred a union with Nigeria, the Southern Cameroon chose alignment with the mother country and that it was as a result of the plebiscite that Northern Cameroun, which included Adamawa, became a part of Nigeria.
APC, therefore, said that contrary to the assertion of Atiku in his petition, he (Atiku) had no right to be voted for as a candidate in the election to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on February 23, 2019.
The party averred that by reason of Atiku not having qualified to contest the election, all votes purportedly cast for him and the PDP in the February 23 election are wasted votes. Besides the issue of the origin of Atiku Abubakar, the APC asserted that most of the claims contained in Atiku’s petition have become statute barred and that the Tribunal is not the appropriate forum to entertain same.
Specifically, the APC said that the issue of educational qualification of the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, raised by Atiku, cannot be treated by the Tribunal because the period for claims and objections on such issues has expired and that the petitioners failed and neglected to use the appropriate period to challenge the validity of the educational qualification of Buhari as contained in the form CF001, submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the General Election.
According to the APC, since the petitioners have waived their right to challenge the propriety of information contained in the form CF001 of President Buhari, their petition forecloses any reasonable course of action. APC also faulted the allegations of non-compliance with relevant laws made by Atiku and PDP, adding that their failure to make specific references to the compliance issue has fatal effect on the petition. Therefore the petition did not have enough material to justify the ground of any relief sought.
Atiku had in his petition faulted the conduct of the February 23 Presidential Election on the grounds of non-compliance and other malpractices such as intimidation of voters, unlawful arrest of his sympathisers and the harassment by soldiers and other law enforcement agencies of those wishing to vote for him.
The former Vice President claimed to have scored the majority of the lawful votes and prayed the tribunal to declare him as winner of the election. In the alternative, the PDP candidate prayed for an order for the cancellation of the election and direction of the INEC to conduct a fresh one that will conform with relevant laws. But the APC in the response argued that failure of Atiku to join the Nigerian Army, Police and other security agencies, who were alleged to have performed the harassment and intimidation, as defendants in the petition to establish his claim is fatal to the petition. They urged the court to strike out the claims.
The party, therefore, prayed to uphold the victory of its candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, who polled 15,191,347 to emerge winner and subsequent declaration as president-elect by INEC. It also urged that the petition against the victory should be dismissed for having no cause of action. Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for hearing of the petition.