As Abdulsalami peace c’ttee meets Atiku: Buhari’s legal team says ‘we‘re ready for ex-VP’

The presidential campaign team of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Thursday said it’s ready to defend the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari at the just concluded election with all the legal expertise at its disposal. 

The campaign’s legal team stated this in a statement in Abuja.

It said all interested parties who rejected the outcome of the polls, including the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, should meet the APC’s legal team in court.

Atiku, who is yet to congratulate Buhari on his victory, said the results as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was not a true reflection of the people’s decisions and said he would be challenging it at the tribunal.

The APC’s position came as the Abdulsalami Abubakar-led national peace committee met Thursday   with the former vice president and leading members of his team in Abuja with a view to averting possible chaos.

Other members of the committee in attendance were Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, and Rev. Fr Atta Barkindo.

On the other side were Atiku’s running mate, Peter Obi; Senate President Bukola Saraki; National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus; Speaker Yakubu Dogara and some party notables.

The meeting, which sources said started at about 6.00pm was still ongoing as at the time of  this report.

 We‘re ready – Buhari’s team

But the legal unit of Buhari campaign team said it was ready to face anyone challenging the victory at the tribunal.

The team said this in a communiqué at the end of its meeting in Abuja.

 In the communiqué signed by Deputy Director of Legal Directorate of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Professor Mamman Lawan Yusufari, condemned what it called few cases of violence in some parts of the country and asked the appropriate authorities to deal with the perpetrators in accordance with the law.

The statement also commended the presidential candidates, political parties and their support groups for their general respect for the law in the campaign activities.

It said:  “Arising from its emergency meeting held on 27 Feb, 2019, the legal directorate of the APC presidential campaign council:

“Congratulates President Muhammadu Buhari for winning the 2019 presidential election and thanks Nigerians for their overwhelming support; 

“Commends the presidential candidates, political parties and their support groups for their general respect for the law in the campaign activities; 

“Commends INEC for conducting the presidential and National Assembly elections in substantial compliance with the law;

“Condemns the few cases of violence in some parts of the country and calls on the appropriate authorities to deal with the perpetrators in accordance with the law;

“Calls on interested parties who are not satisfied with the results of the elections to challenge same by following due process of the law, and;

“Affirms its readiness to defend the resounding victory of President Muhammadu Buhari with all the legal expertise at its disposal.”

…Atiku not destined for victory

Meanwhile, the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has said Atiku was not destined to become the nation’s president.

Describing him as a “political rolling stone” desperate to lead, he however said the APC was fully prepared to meet the PDP and his presidential candidate in court.

Oshiomhole said his party might also cross-petition the court because there were many areas it could dispute.

He stated this Thursday while speaking to journalists in Abuja.

“I think it is arrogance for Atiku to think that our future is tied to his presidency. Atiku is destined never to be president of Nigeria and I ask you to review his character. Leadership is about character. Atiku’s desperation is so obvious. He is so desperate that in 2003, he challenged his own boss, Obasanjo. He decamped to join ACN and we offered him the ticket and he lost the election and returned to PDP. 

“He contested again and lost the nomination and because he has only his interest at heart, he decamped again from PDP. He joined us in Lagos and rolled out the dollars, but we voted for Buhari as our candidate. He knew that he cannot defeat Buhari in the primary and went back to the PDP. Do you think  such a political rolling stone, does he think that Nigerians are so insincere as to think that a man who is not stable and whose interest is about himself will be a possible candidate to be elected?

“What makes him have that sense of entitlement that he must be president of Nigeria? You cannot deny anyone the right to dispute the outcome of an election however free and fair. So, we hope and we are looking forward to meeting Atiku Abubakar in court.

“We might also choose to also cross-petition because there were many areas we can dispute. In Adamawa state, he had already lost the election before he did some magic that gave him that narrow victory in Adamawa state,” he said.

Oshiomhole said voter turnout in the North-east, especially in Borno state, was a reflection of the substantial peace that had returned to the area.

He said if the former vice president was unaware of the peace in the area, it could be because he does not go home regularly.

On Atiku’s comment that over N85billion was lost immediately President Buhari was declared winner of the election, Oshiomhole said “that is twisting the facts.”

“When Atiku started talking about his irrevocable commitment to privatise and sell NNPC, many people wondered aloud whether he had not already collected deposit, especially when he says even if he was going to die. 

“Was he going to rule Nigeria against our will because democracy does not end at voting? Citizens must hold their leaders accountable for their policy choices. So, if those depositors see that it will not be business as usual and decided to take their flight, we don’t even want them to come back. Nigeria needs genuine investors who have faith in our country with long term interest.

 “Atiku spoke about what he called statistical impossibility and also about the two zones where he is strongest and that votes in those areas were smaller and the margin of victory also small.

“In 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari got fewer votes than he got in 2015 and from INEC figures, we secured 15.2 million votes. So, when Alhaji Atiku Abubakar talks about statistical impossibilities, I don’t want to call him a poor student of history, but invite you to look at the figures of registered new voters. 

“If Atiku had taken time to review the performance of his political party over the years and compare them to that of President Buhari over the same period, he would have understood and be clearer. To suggest that votes were suppressed in the South-south and the South-east is not to be able to appreciate what the resort to card readers have done to election riggers. 

“When we conducted an isolated election in Anambra state, no governor secured 400,000 votes, and anyone who is familiar with the realities of Rivers state knows that if you conduct a free and fair election and you deny periwinkles the opportunity to come out and vote, it is impossible for them to get up to 500,000 votes. Yet, you had situations where you had 99 percent of voters turning out to vote in Rivers state before the advent of the card reader. 

“Rather than Atiku thinking that rigging has come to stay and could not understand why the numbers can’t add up in the absence of massive rigging, he should be reminded that the essence of the collective effort that has been made and the intervention of genuine friends of Nigeria has been to try to improve the electoral process such that rigging can be eliminated or reduced to tolerable level.

“As I speak, we have petitioned INEC on how we were rigged out in Akwa Ibom state and it is interesting that it is the PDP that is complaining about rigging in Akwa Ibom state. How do you explain that INEC cancelled so many units in several states in other to be able to declare PDP candidates winners? That was how Senator Akpabio was rigged out in Akwa Ibom state.

“When the National Peace Committee invited political parties to commit themselves to peace and to pledge to accept the outcome of the results, you will recall that the PDP and their candidate were absent at the first meeting. Following public outcry and pressure from their friends, they reluctantly went to sign the peace accord.

“So, from day one, Atiku made up his mind that unless he wins, the election is not free and fair and that it will only be free and fair if he is returned as the winner. Then, we ask the question, what is the value of the peace accord?”

Victory for the people -Lai

Also, the minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, has said President Buhari’s victory symbolised the triumph of the ordinary Nigerians over the elite.

The minister said this in Abuja Thursday when he received the management of his ministry, who came to congratulate him on the party’s victory at the polls.

“Last weekend’s election is a direct contest between ordinary Nigerians and the elite, most of whom are rent seekers. Of course, the ordinary Nigerians won,” he said.

Mohammed said the president’s victory was a confirmation of the fact that ordinary Nigerians appreciated the pro-people policies of the present administration which, he said, was doing more with far less resources.

“Overall, this government is doing more with less and is restoring decency and integrity to governance. Like the New York Times said, the re-election of President Buhari is a referendum on honesty. There is no better way to put it,” he stated.

While reeling out the policies that endeared President Buhari to the ordinary Nigerians, the minister said “under the Social Investment Programme (SIM), the government feeds 9.3 million school children every day and some 500,000 unemployed graduates have been employed under N-Power, in addition to some 300,000 families who are benefitting from the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT).”

 “Pensioners who have been left in the lurch are being paid, and I am talking of ex-workers of the Nigerian Airways, NITEL and former Biafran Policemen, among others. The former Nigeria Airways staffers were so delighted that they held a rally in support of the president before the elections,” Mohammed said.

He said the fight against corruption was being institutionalised “with a number of policies that include Treasury Single Account (TSA), Whistleblower policy, and that it has led to the recovery of huge amounts of money as well as property from looters.”

The minister said the citizenry should continue to support the Buhari administration in building a strong, secure, economically-buoyant and corrupt-free society.

On the APC’s victory in Kwara, the minister thanked the management of his ministry for appreciating his ‘modest’ effort in delivering the state from the grip of a crippling hegemony.

“I must stress – and I have said this before – that the credit for the liberation of Kwara goes to the good people of state who, despite efforts to compromise them, refused to sell their votes.

”A simple slogan, O to Ge (Enough is Enough), captured the determination of the people to vote out those who have held them down for decades. And that is precisely what they did,” he said. 

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