The ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) has told the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal that the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is not a Nigerian and therefore not qualified to have stood for the election.
In its reply to Abubakar’s and the PDP’s petition challenging the outcome of the presidential election, the APC claimed that the former vice president is a Cameroonian and not a Nigerian citizen.
While urging the tribunal to dismiss Atiku’s petition against its candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, for lacking in merit, APC said that the 11.1 million votes recorded in favour of Atiku and the PDP should be voided and considered a waste by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
Besides, the APC’s reply to the petition, filed by its lead counsel, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), faulted the candidacy of Abubakar in the election, insisting that as a Cameroonian, he ought not to have taken part in Nigeria’s presidential poll in the first instance.
The Party averred that Abubakar was born on November 25, 1946, in Jada, Adamawa, in Northern Cameroon and is, therefore, a citizen of Cameroon and not a Nigerian by birth.
Going down memory lane, APC claimed that prior to 1919, Cameroon was being administered by Germany and that following the defeat of Germany in World War 1, which end in 1918, Cameroon became part of a League of Nations mandate territory which consisted of French Cameroon and British Cameroon in 1919.
APC further argued that in 1961, a plebiscite was held in British Cameroon to determine whether the people preferred to stay in Cameroon or align with Nigeria.
According to the party, while northern Cameroon preferred a union with Nigeria, southern Cameroon chose alignment with the mother country and that it was as a result of the plebiscite that northern Cameroon, which included Adamawa, became a part of Nigeria.
APC, therefore, said that contrary to the assertion of Atiku in his petition, he (Abubakar) 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 were wasted votes.
Besides, the issue around the origin of Abubakar, the APC asserted that most of the claims contained in his petition had become statute barred and that the tribunal was not the appropriate forum to entertain the same.
The ruling party told the tribunal that the issue of educational qualification of the president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, raised by Atiku could not be treated by the tribunal because the period for claims and objections on such issues had 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 APC, since the petitioners have waived their right to challenge the propriety of information contained in Form CF001 of President Buhari, their petition no longer disclosed any reasonable cause 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 had a fatal effect on the petition and therefore the petition did not have enough material to justify the ground of any relief sought.
Atiku had in his petition with reference number: CA/PEPC/002/2019 faulted the conduct of the February 23 presidential election on grounds of non-compliance with the relevance electoral laws and other malpractices such as intimidation of voters, unlawful arrest of his sympathisers and the harassment by soldiers and other law enforcement of those wishing to vote for him.
The former vice president and PDP claimed to have scored the majority of the lawful votes in the election and prayed the tribunal to declare them as winners of the election.
In the alternative, the PDP candidate prayed for an order for the cancellation of the election and another order by the tribunal directing the INEC to conduct a fresh one that will conform to the relevant laws.
But the APC in the reply argued that failure of Abubakar 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 was fatal to the petition.
The party urged the court to strike out the claims.
The party, therefore, prayed the tribunal to uphold the victory of its candidate, Buhari, who polled 15,191,347 votes to emerge winner of the poll and his subsequent declaration as president-elect by INEC while also urging that the petition against the victory should be dismissed for having no cause of action.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the petition.