The All Progressives Congress has replied to the election petition filed before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
APC, the third respondent to the petition, faulted the grounds of the petition, adding that Atiku is a Cameroonian, and “not a citizen of Nigeria by birth and ought not to have even been allowed in the first place, to contest the election.
It also faulted the claim by the petitioners that they obtained the authentic results of the February 23, 2019 presidential election from the Independent National Electoral Commission’s server showing that they won the election.
APC’s response to the petition comprised a notice of preliminary objection and 504-paragraph reply to the petition on merit, which proposed to rely on 47 sets of documents.
Through the processes it filed, the party urged the tribunal to hold that “the petitioners are not entitled to any of the prayers being sought by them”.
It urged the tribunal to “dismiss the petition with substantial cost as same is devoid of any merit and also founded on frivolity, having not been initiated bonafide but on palpable abuse of judicial process”.
INEC had on February 27, 2019 declared that the APC, alongside its candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, won the election with 15,191,847 votes to defeat his closest rival, Atiku, whom it said polled 11,262,978 votes.
But the petitioners stated in their 139-page petition anchored on five grounds 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 to defeat Buhari whom they said scored 16,741,430 votes.
They said the results were the total votes scored by the candidates in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, as there was “no report on server” about the results from Rivers State as of February 25, 2019.
By calculation, Atiku and the PDP claimed to have defeated Buhari by 1,615,302 votes.
In its reply filed through its lead counsel, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), the APC said the data and computation of results on state-to-state basis were not legitimate.
The party stated that only the results declared by INEC were authentic.
It stated, “The 3rd respondent denies the averment and allegation contained in paragraph 21 of the petition and states that the purported data in the 1st respondent’s server (INEC) and the purported computation of results on state-to-state basis under the scores of the 1st petitioner (Atiku) and 2nd petitioner (PDP) are not legitimate and same are not products of any lawful election and conducted by the 1st respondent (INEC).
“The 3rd respondent states further that, no person or body in Nigeria, apart from the 1st respondent is saddled with the statutory duty of conducting elections and declaring results.
“The 3rd respondent states further that, it is only the results declared for the parties by the 1st respondent that is authentic.
“The petitioners are put to the strictest proof of the averment.”
Arguing that Atiku was not a Nigerian by birth and thus not qualified to contest the office of the Nigerian President, the APC maintained that “from available records” Atiku “was born on November 26, 1946, in Jada Adamawa, in Northern Cameroon and was therefore a citizen of Cameroon.
The party added, “His father was Garba Atiku Abdukadir who died in December 1957.
“Prior to 1919, Cameroon was being administered by Germany.
“But following the defeat of Germany in World War I which ended in 1918, Cameroon became a League of Nations mandate territory which was split into French Cameroons and British Cameroons in 1919.”
The party argued that the British Cameroons was administering from neighbouring Nigeria.
It added that following a plebiscite held in 1961, Northern Cameroon, which it said included Adamawa, preferred a union with Nigeria, while Southern Cameroon chose alignment with the mother country.
It added, “The transition took place on June 1, 1961.It was as a result of that plebiscite that Northern Cameroon which included Adamawa became a part of Nigeria and by derivation, the 1st petitioner (Atiku) became a citizen of Nigeria but not by birth.”
The APC therefore maintained that Atiku “had no right to be voted for as a candidate in the election to the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on February 23, 2019 across Nigeria”.
It maintained that “all votes purportedly cast” for him in the election as declared by INEC, “are wasted votes.”
The party also maintained that its candidate “was duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election”, adding that “there was no infraction during the electoral process.”
It added that “no electronic video recording, newspaper reports etc as alleged by the petitioners carried any infraction during the election.”
The APC also said contrary to the petitioner’s claim, Buhari was qualified to contest the election “in all ramification and with the ambit of extant laws of Nigeria.”