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Published On: Wed, Sep 25th, 2019

Presidential poll: Atiku challenges Buhari at Supreme Court

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*Says Appeal Court erred on 66 grounds
*As PDP demands probe of N90b FIRS funds

By Vivian Okejeme and Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its 2019 Presidential election candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, have approached the Supreme Court, challenging the outcome of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal judgement.
The tribunal had on September 11, 2019, upheld President Muhammadu Buhari’s reelection as the winner of February 23, presidential election.
Not satisfied with the decision of the tribunal, Atiku and his party, headed to the Apex court, premising on 66 grounds of appeal.
Specifically, the appellants are praying the Supreme court to hold that the tribunal erred in its decision and consequently set the tribunal’s judgment aside.
Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, disclosed that the appeal was predicated on 66 grounds, for which they believed justices of the tribunal erred in their verdict on Atiku and PDP’s petition against the election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The five-member panel led by Justice Mohammed Garba had in its judgment delivered on Sept. 11, dismissed the petition filed by Atiku and PDP for being incompetent and lacking in merit.
In a unanimous decision, the panel held that the petitioners did not produce relevant witnesses to convince them that Buhari did not possess necessary educational qualification for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In the appeal before the Apex court, Atiku and his party premised on issues bordering around the qualification of Buhari in the election and the controversial Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC’s) server amongst others.
Among the grounds listed included claims that the judgement of the tribunal was not based on the issues canvassed by the petitioners, especially in relation to the respondent’s academic qualifications.
“Take, for instance, one of the respondent’s witnesses, rtd Maj.-Gen. Paul Tarfa, called by President Muhammadu Buhari’s lawyers said that they did not give their qualifications to the Military Board.
Tarfa’s testimony is against the claim by Buhari that the Nigeria military is in possession of his certificates.
“Secondly, Buhari said that he was recruited into the military in 1961 and Tarfa said in 1962, so what is the correct date of his recruitment into the army. Somebody is not telling the truth.
“The issue in question is who entered the different grades for him from both the Cambridge and the West African School Certificate results.
According Atiku, this is the first time that the court will say that the documents are admitted in the interest of justice. So, who entered the different grades for him and if he did it, why?
Another ground of appeal is that the President’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, brought the Cambridge documents dated July 18 and testified on July 20.
They claimed that the documents were not pleaded, thereby stating that in law, you don’t speak on documents not pleaded.
The appellants are also claiming that the WAEC documents contradicted the Cambridge documents, describing it as a case of forgery and inconsistency in documents.
“On the INEC server, the judgement of the PEPT said the INEC server was hacked and we then asked, which of the servers was hacked?
The tribunal judgment was based on the Electoral Act section 52 (1) (B), but this aspect of the law has since been deleted in 2015. It is no longer in existence. This was the case in Wike Vs Peterside.
”If the judgment said INEC server was recklessly hacked, then, there is a server and, therefore, a criminal offence. Yet, INEC did not claim so or that its documents were stolen.
”How come the judge reached this scandalous decision?
They therefore, urged the apex court to go ahead to grant all the reliefs sought.
Atiku and his party, PDP had dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the tribunal for declaring Buhari as winner of the Feb. 23 presidential election.
They further alleged that Buhari at the time of contesting the poll was not qualified having not possessed requisite academic qualification and as such all votes credited to him in the election be regarded as wasted votes.
They also cited Irregularities, rigging, substantial noncompliance with the electoral provisions amongst others.
PDP demands investigation of N90 Billion FIRS scandal
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has demanded a system-wide investigation into the alleged siphoning of N90 billion from the coffers of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in which top members of the Buhari Presidency and All Progressives Congress (APC) have been mentioned.
The PDP made the demand in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan in Abuja.
The party further demanded that the Buhari Presidency must not cover this humongous corruption involving highly placed officers in this administration, as it had done in the past.
The party lamented that in the face of excruciating hardship being endured by citizens, a government, which came into office on the mantra of change and zero tolerance for corruption, has become enmeshed in atrocious acts of corruption.
The statement reads in part, “The PDP holds that it is pathetic and speaks volumes of the character of this administration that a top member of the cabinet is being fingered in this reprehensible siphoning of monies collected as taxes from millions of already impoverished Nigerians.
“Our party notes that this shocking allegation directly borders on gross misconduct and breach of public trust.
“The party therefore rejects the flimsy denials and threats being pushed through the FIRS as a belated attempt at cover-up by persons close to the Presidency.
“It is therefore held that the delay by the Buhari Presidency in applying established statutory processes and procedures of ordering an investigation into the issue only goes to confirm that the Buhari administration is a citadel of corruption.
“This is more so as reports are already in the public domain of how the money stolen from FIRS, was allegedly diverted to private purses and for other extraneous purposes including the 2019 extravagant campaigns of the APC.
“Nigerians expect that all our national resources should always be used to ensure the welfare of the citizenry and must be accounted for at all times, it said.

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