Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar has accused the Nigerian government of employing intimidation and criminal conspiracy to silence the voice of the people.
“Our national drive to make Nigeria work again has been slowed down by anti-democratic forces,” Atiku said in a video broadcast.
“You (Nigerians) voted the PDP and defended your votes in the face of intimidation and criminal conspiracy by the incumbent government. – by your actions, you have demonstrated to the world that democracy works. And wherever and whenever democracy works, the will of the people prevail.”
Atiku, a former Nigeria vice president under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration from 1999 till 2007, contested the office president in the 2019 general election and lost to incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Buhari polled a total of 15, 191, 847 votes while PDP’s Atiku Abubakar polled 11, 262, 978 votes.
Atiku and his party- the PDP, however, rejected the presidential election results, claiming the process was ‘massively rigged’ to favour President Buhari and the APC.
“I hereby reject the result of February 23, 2019 sham election and will be challenging it in court,” Atiku said hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the results.
PDP and Atiku thereafter filed a petition at the election tribunal to challenge Buhari’s victory in the presidential election.
“I urge you to come out in even larger numbers to vote the candidates of the People’s Democratic Party from top to bottom,” Atiku said.
Some progress has been made as the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal on Wednesday granted the request by Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to be allowed to inspect the electoral materials used by the Independent National Electoral Commission for the conduct of the February 23 poll.
But the three-man panel led by Justice Abdul Aboki unanimously rejected other prayers by the applicants seeking orders permitting them to, among others, photocopy and scan the electoral documents.
The tribunal also refused their requests to be allowed to conduct a forensic examination and forensic analysis of the materials and have access to card reader data and information contained in the cloud and electronic storage used for the poll.
Delivering the lead ruling, Justice Aboki said by virtue of the provision of section 151 of the Electoral Act on which the applicants’ motion ex parte was anchored, they were only entitled to inspection of the electoral materials and the certified true copies of all the materials used for the poll.
The two other members of the panel, Justices Peter Ige and Emmanuel Agim, agreed with the lead ruling.
Earlier, the three-man panel, in a pre-hearing session of the tribunal had on Wednesday, entertained the applicants’ argument for about 45 minutes and rose.
It promised to return in one hour’s time to deliver its ruling but did not return until about three hours after.
The applicants’ legal team was led by Mr. Livy Ozoukwu (SAN), but Chief Chris Uche (SAN), made submissions on behalf of the team.
As expected in an ex parte hearing, the respondents – President Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress and the Independent National Electoral Commission – were absent and not represented by their lawyers.
Uche said during the Wednesday’s hearing that the ex parte motion contained six prayers, one of which sought the tribunal’s leave to bring the motion up in the tribunal pre-hearing session.
He added, “Prayers 2 to 6 are in summary seeking orders of this honourable court to allow the inspection and production of election documents used by the Independent Electoral Commission for the conduct of the presidential election to enable the applicants to institute and maintain an election petition.”
While the governorship and state houses of assemblies elections come up on Saturday, March 9, Atiku urged Nigerians and supporters of the PDP to participate in the elections.