ABUJA/Nigeria: The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has said that he has been able to run for the office of the President of Nigeria since 1993 without any controversy because unlike his main rival and the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bola Tinubu, he is unencumbered by drugs and identity scandals.
These revelations are contained in Atiku’s response to Tinubu’s and APC’s reply to his petition challenging the process and the outcome of the February 25 presidential election.
Besides, Atiku said that his own identity, comprising age, state of origin, and educational qualifications, have never been in dispute like those of Tinubu.
In his response to Tinubu’s reply to his petition, Atiku insisted that Tinubu is constitutionally disabled from contesting for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Amongst others, Atiku alleged that Tinubu is unfit to lead Nigeria having been indicted for drug related offences in the United States of America (USA) and made to forfeit a sum of $460,000 as a compromise agreement.
In the response filed by his lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, the PDP presidential candidate justified why the declaration of Tinubu as President-elect cannot stand, adding that against the law, “Tinubu holds dual citizenship of Nigeria and Guinea, having voluntarily acquired the citizenship of the Republic of Guinea”.
Similarly, Atiku accused Tinubu of not disclosing facts of his constitutional qualifications in his Form EC9 submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), contrary to the provisions of the law.
The petitioner while admitting that Tinubu may be a “Titan and a Maestro”, he however said that the “President-elect is certainly not a titan and maestro in national stature but in controversies such as age, state of origin, identity, educational qualifications represented by certificates obtained from universities and colleges”.
Apparently reacting to Tinubu’s response in which he described Atiku as a serial election loser, the former Vice President said that Tinubu is a giant in forfeiture, drug related offences and failure to disclose dual nationality to INEC.
“The comparison of the second respondent (Tinubu) with the first petitioner ( Atiku) who had attained the eminent position of Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for eight years is totally unfounded”, he said.
Justifying his request for the annulment of the declaration of Tinubu as President-elect, Atiku said that Tinubu and APC never won the majority of the lawful votes cast in the February 25 presidential election.
Amongst others, the PDP presidential candidate maintained that Tinubu failed part of the constitutional requirements, having failed to secure 25% of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, as constitutionally required.
He insisted that the return of Tinubu as the winner of the 2023 presidential election is undue, unlawful, and invalid because Tinubu did not meet the constitutional requirements as to qualification.
Rather than addressing the issues raised against him and the disputed election, Atiku said that Tinubu deliberately chose not to answer points of substance in the petition and opted for extraneous facts, contradictory, evasive, speculative and vague assertions.
In reaction to another issue raised against Atiku’s petition, the former Vice President claimed that his petition did not in any way constitute a gross abuse of any court process, adding that the originating summons of February 28, 2023, filed at the Supreme Court by Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta , Edo, and Sokoto states have since been discontinued.
At any rate, Atiku said that parties in the suit of the six PDP controlled states are not the same in his own petition and therefore prayed the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to discountenance the objections and the averments raised against the petition by Tinubu and grant him all the reliefs sought in the petition.
Media Adviser to Atiku Abubakar, Mr. Paul Ibe said that the only thing common between Atiku and Tinubu is the year 1993.
He said while it was the year that Atiku started his presidential campaign run, it was also the same year that Tinubu fell to the US justice system over his indictment and conviction for drug trafficking and money laundering for which he forfeited a whopping sum of $460,000.
Meanwhile, J K Gadzama, SAN, has ceded the headship of the Atiku legal team of the PEPT to Chief Chris Uche, SAN.
Filings by the Atiku legal team responding to Tinubu’s and APC’s reply to Atiku’s petition were signed by Chris Uche, SAN.
Additionally, Atiku’s legal team has filed an application for pre-trial hearing notice pursuant to paragraph 18(1) and (2) of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act 2022.