The Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate in the February 23 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has denied the All Progressives Congress’ allegation that he is not eligible to contest because he was not born in Nigeria.
Atiku stated this in a response to the APC’s reply to the petition he and his party jointly filed before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.
He said he was born on November 25, 1946, in Jada, Adamawa State, therefore he was a Nigerian.
The APC had alleged in its response that as of November 25, 1946, when Atiku was born, Jada, was part of Northern Cameroon.
But Atiku insisted that he was a Nigerian citizen, adding that his parents were also Nigerians by birth.
He said while his father, Garba Atiku Abdulkadir, hailed from Wumo in the present-day Sokoto State, his mother, Aisha Kande, hailed from Dutse, now Jigawa State.
Atiku and the PDP said, “Contrary to the allegations contained in paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the 3rd respondent’s (APC’s) reply, the petitioners state that the 1st petitioner (Atiku) is a citizen of Nigeria by birth and thus qualified to vote and be voted for and returned in the election to the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, held on Saturday February 23, 2019 going by the relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“The 1st petitioner was born on November 25, 1946, in Jada, Adamawa State, by Nigerian parents and he is, therefore, a citizen of Nigeria by birth.
“The 1st petitioner’s father, Garba Atiku Abdulkadir, was a Nigerian by birth who hailed from Wumo in the present-day Sokoto State, while the mother, Aisha Kande, was also a Nigerian who hailed from Dutse in the present-day Jigawa State.
“The parents of the 1st Petitioner are both Fulani, a community/tribe indigenous to Nigeria.
“The birth of the 1st petitioner in Jada, in the present-day Adamawa State of Nigeria, was occasioned by the movement of his paternal grandfather called Atiku, who was an itinerant trader, from Wumo in the present-day Sokoto State to Jada in company with his friend, Ardo Usman.
“That in Jada, Atiku, the grandfather of the 1st petitioner, gave birth to Garba who in tum gave birth to the 1st petitioner and named him after his father, Atiku.
“The 1st petitioner’s mother, Aisha Kande, was the grand-daughter of Inuwa Dutse who came to Jada as an itinerant trader too from Dutse in the present-day Jigawa State.
All averments concerning Germany, British Cameroons, League of Nations and Plebiscite are false and misleading in relation to the 1st petitioner and therefore completely irrelevant more so that the 1st petitioner is a Nigerian by birth within the contemplation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
“The averments in the aforesaid paragraphs are indeed fabricated, contrived, made in bad faith and designed to embarrass the 1st petitioner.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission had on February 27, 2019, declared that the All Progressives Congress alongside its candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, won the February 23 election with 15,191,847 votes to defeat his closest rival, Atiku, whom it said polled 11,262,978 votes.
But the petitioners stated that “from the data in the 1st respondent’s (INEC’s) server…the true, actual and correct results” from “state-to-state computation” showed that Atiku polled a total of 18,356,732 votes defeat Buhari whom they said scored 16,741,430 votes.
INEC had in its response to the petition distanced itself from the “server results.”
The commission, through its lead counsel, Yunus Usman (SAN), had said the results of the poll were never transmitted or collated electronically.
It added that it kept no such server where such electronically transmitted results could have been obtained.
In their reply to the APC’s reply, Atiku and the PDP insisted that they truly got authentic results of the February 23 election from the Independent National Electoral Commission’s server.
They said, “In reaction to paragraph 29 of the 3rd respondent’s reply, the petitioners aver that the data and scores in the 1st respondent’s server were as transmitted by the 1st respondent’s officials and those scores are valid, and legitimate.
“The conduct of elections and declarations of results by the 1st respondent is the subject of the present petition.
“Contrary to paragraphs 31 and 34 of the 3rd respondent’s reply, the petitioners contend that the figures and scores in paragraph 22 of the petition are neither false nor contrived or concocted by the petitioners.
“Indeed, the ad hoc staff and officials of the 1st respondent in obedience to the training/instruction by the 1st respondent (INEC) transmitted the scores they got from the polling units to the 1st respondent’s server.”
Protesters Boo ‘Buhari’ in London
Over a dozen people gathered at the Abuja House in London to boo a Nigerian official they believed to be President Muhammadu Buhari.
The protesters gathered in front of the building to boo the official who was driven in a black painted car with a Nigerian diplomatic plate number (FGN1).
The videos of the protest were published Thursday night by a Twitter user, Revolutionary Tunde, using the Twitter handle @IsaacOgunmoyele.
Many of the protesters carried placards calling for freedom for the detained publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore. Others condemned the treatment of the leader of the Shiite movement in Nigeria, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
“Buhari, Stop Poisoning Sheikh Zakzaky,” one of the placards read.
“Omoyele Sowore is not a criminal,” another placard read.
Mr Buhari is currently in London for what the presidency described as a private visit.
He has spent over a week in the UK during which he has continued to perform the functions of the Nigerian president including signing a bill into law.
It is not clear if the president was in the vehicle or inside the building while the protest and the boos went on. The Nigerian embassy in the UK is yet to issue a statement on the matter.
The protesters shouted ‘ole, ole, ole…’ meaning ‘thief, thief, thief….’ while mentioning the name of the Nigerian president.
They also condemned the disrespect for the courts by the Nigerian government.
The two prominent names whose release the protesters called for are being detained by the State Security Service in Abuja.
Mr Sowore is being held despite meeting his bail conditions set by a judge. He was arrested for calling for a revolution against bad governance. The state charged him with treasonable felony and money laundering, charges he denied.
Mr El-Zakzaky has been detained since December 2015 when soldiers massacred over 300 Shiite members. The soldiers accused them of blocking a road being used by the chief of army staff, Tukur Buratai.
Mr El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah, were first held for over a year without trial and despite a court order that they should be released and compensated.
He was later charged for the death of a soldier during the December 2015 incident.
Just In: Bayelsa Guber Election: Court Annuls APC’s Participation
The Federal High Court, Yenagoa, on Thursday declared that the All Progressives Congress (APC) does not have a governorship candidate in the forthcoming election in Bayelsa State.
This development is coming two days to the election.
The court was presided over by Justice Jane Inyang.
The court declaration, on Thursday, was part of its judgement in a case filed by Heineken Lokpobiri, one of the APC governorship aspirants.
Mr Lokpobiri, a former minister of state for agriculture, had approached the court, asking it to declare him, and not David Lyon, the authentic candidate of the APC.
“The court pronounced that the governorship primary conducted by the APC in Bayelsa state was not done in compliance with the guidelines and the constitution of the party, and, therefore, the party has no candidate,” Mr Lokpobiri’s lawyer, Fitzgerald Olorogun, told reporters immediately after the court ruling.
A shocked Mr Olorogun said the court declaration was not part of their prayers. “It’s strange,” he said.
Asked what was the next option for his client, Mr Olorogun said “We’ll do the needful. But for now, the pronouncement of the court is that APC has no candidate.”
There was heavy police presence within and outside the court premises. The main highway way leading to the court was barricaded by the police. Visitors, including journalists, were frisked before they were allowed to enter the court building.
Mr Lokpobiri, before now, has been urging the people of Bayelsa to vote for the APC in the November 16 election, despite his court case against Mr Lyon and the party.
“I’m a very strong member of APC and I came today to formally tell our chairman and to speak to Nigerians, in particular, the electorate in Bayelsa that all of them should vote for APC regardless of what happens in the court case in which judgment is slated for Nov. 14, 2019,” the former minister said in Abuja after a courtesy visit on the national chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole.
“I told my supporters even before I came here that no matter what happened, I will remain in APC having served as a minister under this administration.
“There is no way the outcome of the governorship primaries will make me leave APC. We are working and campaigning at different levels.
“I always advise that anybody that is grieved, the only place to go is the court.
Senate’s Hate Speech Bill: Atiku Abubakar Speaks
A former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has cautioned Nigerian senators against moves to pass a bill criminalising purported hate speech.
The bill being sponsored by Sabi Abdullahi of the All Progressives Congress is targeted at punishing anyone found guilty of spreading “misinformation.”
The bill also prescribed death penalty for anyone found guilty of spreading a falsehood that led to the death of another person.
But civic groups have been critical about the bill because of its narrow and unclear definition of what constitutes hate speech.
The advocates argued that the Senate’s interpretation of ‘hate speech’ would be at odds with the Nigerian Constitution if the bill becomes law as designed. The Constitution protects the rights to unhindered speech, expression and association.
Mr Abubakar aligned with those who believe the constitutional safeguards for free speech should be strengthened rather than undermined by lawmakers and other politicians in power.
The former vice-president and main opposition candidate at the 2019 presidential election said the freedom of speech and other key elements of civil liberties which Nigerians enjoyed between 1999 and 2015 should not be taken away by the current administration.
“It is prudent to build upon the tolerance inherited from those years and not shrink the democratic space to satisfy personal and group interests,” Mr Abubakar said in an emailed statement signed by his spokesperson, Paul Ibe.
Efforts to regulate the media has been keenly considered and publicly pushed by politicians since Muhammadu Buhari assumed power in 2015.
Mr Buhari has a history of brutal repression from his military era in the 1980s, a label from which he remained unflinching.
The president has repeatedly told the country that his government will continue to ignore rights in favour of national security.
Some of his appointees, especially information minister Lai Mohammed, have insisted Nigerians’ free speech will be curbed.
Mr Mohammed said social media has become a tool of irresponsibility amongst elements determined to foment chaos in the country. He has equally overseen imposition of heavy fines on broadcast stations over alleged hate speech on their platforms.
There were efforts to push a variation of the current hate speech bill through the parliament in 2015, but it failed amidst nationwide uproar.
The reintroduced version contained essentially the same fundamentals and Nigerians have vowed to resist it as they did four years ago.
Read Mr Abubakar’s full statement below:
Atiku Abubakar wishes to sound a note of caution to those now toying with the idea of an Anti Hate Speech Bill, with punishment for supposed Hate Speech to be death by hanging. The contemplation of such laws is in itself not just hate speech, but an abuse of the legislative process that will violate Nigerians’ constitutionally guaranteed right to Freedom of Speech.
Atiku urges those behind this Bill to awake to the fact that Nigeria’s democracy has survived its longest incarnation, because those who governed this great nation between 1999 and 2015 never toyed with this most fundamental of freedoms. It is prudent to build upon the tolerance inherited from those years and not shrink the democratic space to satisfy personal and group interests.
Freedom of Speech was not just bestowed to Nigerians by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), it is also a divine right given to all men by their Creator. History is littered with the very negative unintended consequences that result when this God given right is obstructed by those who seek to intimidate the people rather than accommodate them.
We should be reminded that history does not repeat itself. Rather, men repeat history. And often, to disastrous consequences.
Nigeria presently has too many pressing concerns. We are now the world headquarters for extreme poverty as well as the global epicentre of out-of-school children. Our economy is smaller than it was in 2015, while our population is one of the world’s fastest growing. We have retrogressed in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, from the position we held four years ago, and our Human Development Indexes are abysmally low.
It therefore begs the question: should we not rather make laws to tackle these pressing domestic challenges, instead of this Bill, which many citizens consider obnoxious?
Again, Atiku cautions that we must prioritise our challenges ahead of the whims and caprices of those who do not like to hear the inconvenient truth. Stop this folly and focus on issues that matter to Nigerians.