President-elect Bola Tinubu, yesterday, told the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and his party that their petition against his victory at the February 25 presidential election constituted a gross abuse of the judicial process.
Tinubu, in a preliminary objection he filed against Atiku and PDP’s petition, dated March 21, stated that it was wrong for the petitioners to approach the tribunal with the same issues they had earlier filed at the Supreme Court.
Tinubu dismissed Atiku as a serial loser, saying he has been losing presidential polls since 1993.
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The president-elect insisted that he clearly won majority of the votes cast at the presidential election and was rightly declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). He observed that the emergence of Atiku as the presidential candidate of PDP balkanised the main opposition party and affected the party’s fortunes at the election.
But Special Assistant on Public Communication to Atiku, Mr. Phrank Shaibu, lambasted Tinubu for trying to present the $460,000 forfeiture case as one relating to tax evasion and not drug charges, saying the former Lagos State governor could not outrun his past.
In the petition filed on his behalf by his lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, the respondent observed that six states, comprising Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Sokoto, which were under the control of PDP had approached the Supreme Court to nullify the outcome of the presidential election.
In their Originating Summons dated February 28, 2023, the plaintiffs had predicated their request on the grounds that INEC did not comply with its Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2022.
Specifically, they claimed that the failure of INEC to use the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to electronically transmit results of the elections substantially affected the credibility of the process.
Tinubu insisted, “The petitioners herein, through themselves and/or their proxies filed the Originating Summons at the Supreme Court, before filing this petition. The petitioners are maintaining two processes in respect of the same subject and/or complaint of theirs, against the conduct of the presidential election held on 25th February 2023.
“This latter petition is abusive of the Originating Summons filed at the Supreme Court and is liable to be dismissed in limine,”
Outside the alleged incompetence of Atiku and PDP’s petition, Tinubu stated that claims by the petitioners that Atiku’s election was marred and invalidated by reason of corrupt practices was incompetent and not cognisable under the Electoral Act.
The former governor of Lagos State noted that contrary to the petitioners’ claim of corrupt practices, Atiku and PDP’s performance could be traced to internal wrangling in the party.
Tinubu stated, “While the first petitioner claims to be the candidate of the second petitioner at the presidential election under reference, the respondent shall lead evidence that a host of states controlled by the second petitioner and their governors protested against the emergence of the first petitioner as the candidate of the second petitioner and till the date of the election, vowed not to support him, and, they, indeed, did not support his candidature.”
He added that at the tribunal, he shall lead evidence to show that Atiku could not even campaign or canvass for votes in some of the states controlled by PDP, including Rivers and Oyo states, where he defeated Atiku by a wide margin.
Tinubu insisted, “The second petitioner does not have any right whatsoever or howsoever to be returned as duly elected at the election held on February 25, 2023, having lost to and/or been beaten/defeated by the respondent. The first petitioner, having lost at the election of February 25, 2023, has no right to and cannot be declared as the winner of the election under the Nigerian laws.”
Tinubu also disclosed that Atiku “has been consistently contesting and losing successive presidential elections in Nigeria since 1993, whether at the party primary election level or at the general election, including 1993, when he lost the Social Democratic Party (SDP) primary election to the late Chief M.K.O Abiola; 2007, when he lost the presidential election to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.”
Tinubu cited “2011, when he (Atiku) lost the Peoples Democratic Party presidential primary election to President Goodluck Jonathan; 2015, when he lost the APC primary election to President Muhammadu Buhari; 2019, when he lost the presidential election to President Muhammadu Buhari; and now, 2023, when he has again, lost the presidential election to the respondent.
“Further to (iv) supra, it was/is not a surprise and/or not by accident that the electorate rejected the first petitioner at the polls of the presidential election held on February 25, 2023.”
Arguing further, Tinubu submitted that unlike Atiku, he had been a more “consistent politician, who has not shifted political tendency and alignment.” He said Atiku “has consistently crisscrossed different political parties of Nigeria, including being a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before joining the Action Congress in 2007, when he was the presidential candidate of the party; returned to the PDP thereafter, before joining the firrd respondent in 2015, where he contested the primary election with President Muhammadu Buhari, before returning to the PDP in 2019 to emerge as its presidential candidate.”
Tinubu claimed that he had not only always carried his supporters along but had also increased his political followership, while Atiku, on the other hand, had lost most of his followers in the process of moving from one political party to the other.
Tinubu alleged, “The emergence of the first petitioner as the presidential candidate of the second petitioner led to irreconcilable hostilities within the ranks of the second petitioner, causing the emergence of a group of governors known all over the country as the G-5 Governors – Rivers, Oyo, Enugu, Abia and Benue – who opposed the first petitioner and vowed to mobilise their people against him. The respondent shall at the trial, found and rely on copies of newspaper publications and social media contents in respect of the said subject.
“While the first petitioner contested the presidential election of 2019 with President Muhammadu Buhari under a fairly cohesive Peoples Democratic Party with Peter Gregory Obi as his running mate and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso as one of his supporters, the same Peter Gregory Obi broke away from the PDP to join the Labour Party to contest the presidential election of 25th February, 2023, while Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso also broke away from PDP to contest the presidential election on the ticket of the New Nigeria People’s Party.
“While Peter Obi polled a total number of 6,101,533, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso polled 1,496,687. Before the balkanisation of the second petitioner, the South-Eastern States of Enugu, Abia, Imo, Ebonyi and Anambra used to be controlled by the second petitioner, but at the presidential election of 25th February 2023, they all went the way of Labour Party.
“At a press conference addressed by the first petitioner on or about 2nd March, 2023, he admitted the negative impact of the balkanisation of the second petitioner on the fortune of his election, particularly, the exit of Peter Gregory Obi from the party. Respondent pleads the national newspapers that publicised the first petitioner’s press conference, including the Punch of 3rd March, 2023, where the first petitioner was reported to have lamented thus: ‘It is a fact that Peter Obi took our votes from the South-east and South-south, but that wouldn’t make him the president. You need votes from everywhere.’”
The president-elect pointed out that the failure of Atiku and PDP to join Obi and Kwankwaso in the petition was fatal to their case.
According to him, “The petitioners complained about outcome of the election in Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Kano, Plateau and Lagos states. The second respondent was not declared as the overall winner in any of the states aforementioned.
“Mr. Peter Gregory Obi of the Labour Party was declared the overall winner of the election in Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Plateau and Lagos states, while Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party was declared winner of the election in Kano State.
“None of Labour Party, Peter Gregory Obi, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, and New Nigeria People’s Party, has been joined as a party to this petition.”
In conclusion, Tinubu stressed that the petitions by Atiku and PDP had no substance in fact, logic and law, and disclosed no reasonable cause of action.
“It deserves to be summarily dismissed, as same constitutes a crass abuse of the judicial process,” Tinubu said of Atiku and PDP’s petition.
However, Special Assistant on Public Communication to Atiku, Shaibu, said in a statement that after the lies told by Tinubu and his surrogates, the truth had finally been unravelled through the processes filed by the All Progressives Congress at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
Shaibu said, “Festus Keyamo had gone on national television to say that Tinubu’s forfeiture of $460,000 was based on tax obligations. At least they have now finally admitted that the forfeiture was in relation to a drug trafficking case even though Tinubu did not admit guilt.
“But what has been established is that Justice John Nordberg ordered on October 4, 1993 that the funds in the amount of $460,000 held in First Heritage Bank in the name of Bola Tinubu represent the proceeds of narcotics trafficking or were involved in financial transactions in violation of 18 U.S. 1956 and 1957.
“Tinubu should know that he cannot outrun his past. He was investigated in relation to heroin trafficking. He had millions of dollars in his account while on a salary of $2, 500 monthly, and he forfeited part of it in order to escape jail. These are the facts. Elections are over, and he should stop lying to Nigerians.”
Shaibu said Keyamo’s lack of understanding of the legal proceedings was one of the reasons he failed as a prosecutor with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“Festus Keyamo’s law degree really needs to be investigated. One wonders how he even became a senior advocate. He went on national television to say the $460,000 was a fine for not paying taxes.
“Now, Tinubu is telling the Election Petition Tribunal that the money in question was forfeited as part of a court decree in relation to his drug case. No wonder Keyamo lost so many high profile cases with the EFCC while he was a prosecutor.”
Shaibu knocked Tinubu for claiming that he was not under investigation, but only the funds in his bank accounts were under probe, saying he should explain to Nigerians how he was able to deposit millions of dollars one year after opening bank accounts while earning a salary of $2,500 at Mobil.
Shaibu said, “Elections are over, but Tinubu is still trying to deceive Nigerians. Is he saying the millions of dollars found in his account just magically appeared there just as how his aide said on live television that the bullion vans found on his premises ahead of the 2019 poll erroneously found their way there?
“Tinubu should stop taking Nigerians for a ride. Let him explain the business he did in order to have such a humongous sum of money in his account.” Shaibu stated that a Tinubu presidency would represent a setback in the fight against narcotics, given his antecedents and his open admission that he lived with known drug kingpins.