Saturday, March 9, 2019
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Bonn, Germany

Continued from Part 1

The 'strength' of the People becomes weak when we don't 'exercise' our rights (Eric Schaub)

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it (Thomas Paine)

Elections are the base of our democracy and if we do not have truly a fair electoral process and one that can be managed well by a truly independent body, it really is an attack on our democracy and we should all be concerned about that (Jean-Pierre Kingsley)

, just like millions of other Nigerians still see the 2019 presidential election as haven't been won and lost yet. We need explanations as regards to how and why Buhari was declared the winner of the election. I and many other Nigerians knew before the February 23, 2019, that Buhari can't win the election but that he will rig it to remain in power, but little did we know that figures will be so brazenly padded in his favor in order to declare him the winner contrary to the will of the majority who voted against him.

We're elated that Atiku Abubakar, who might have been the real winner of this election, did not concede defeat. As I noted previously, Atiku conceding defeat after he was robbed of the mandate given to him by the Nigerian people would have amounted to a betrayal of those who trooped out to vote for him, especially, those who lost their lives or were maimed in the process of seeing him elected as the president. He has started the fight to reclaim his mandate, and we're solidly supporting him.

Despite all the overtures, harassment, intimidation, and threats to make him scuttle his move to reclaim the mandate given to him, Atiku Abubakar has just inaugurated his legal team to challenge the result of the presidential election that was riddled with irregularities. The team is headed by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN. Just as we all know, the legit wrote that Atiku Abubakar listed the malpractices to include the use of the military to perfect voter intimidation and suppression in PDP strongholds, connivance of INEC officials, security agents and the ruling party to manufacture bogus figures and outright falsification of the returns from the polling units. Consequent upon all these, he gave notice that he would use all available legitimate means to challenge the result of the election.

Knowing that his election will soon be like a sand castle built on a beach that will be "washed away" soon by a "judicial wave", Buhari and his APC are running helter-skelter trying to stop Atiku from reclaiming the stolen mandate. According to the Daily Trust, the Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO) has written to the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU), urging them to prevail upon the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, to jettison his plan of going to court to challenge President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election. In separate letters addressed to the heads of EU and AU Observation Missions in Nigeria, the president’s support group urged the international bodies to act fast to save the country’s democracy from what it described as Atiku’s inequitable conduct despite the reports of fairness in the just concluded polls by international observers. Even Rotimi Amaechi, the transport minister and the head of Buhari's campaign, has advised the PDP not to go to court but to wait for another 4 years when all Nigerians should then encourage INEC to conduct a free and fair election. In other words, the minister was saying in effect that the 2019 election was a fraud.

No doubt, Atiku is the only person who should challenge his defeat by going to court to seek redress for any infringement during the election, and it's good that he didn't decide to let go, unlike President Jonathan who conceded defeat, during the 2015 presidential election, even before the full result was announced. Atiku also did well by not caving in to pressure to make him forgo his mandate. As I wrote previously, President Jonathan, a man of peace, disarmed all those gearing up to fight for him, by that decision he made to concede. But that decision not to challenge the malpractices that threw him out of office might have created other problems for Nigeria now. Because Buhari was not challenged in 2015 for the election atrocities he and his APC committed, has warranted him to commit worse atrocities during this election. If President Jonathan had gone to court in 2015, that would have put Buhari in check in successive elections like this one. In fact, Buhari wouldn't have been here in the first place. Because he was not challenged in 2015, Buhari thinks that he can do any kind of rigging and gets away with it, but he forgot that Atiku Abubakar is not Goodluck Jonathan.

I, just like other Nigerians, such as the members of the Better Nigeria Group (BNG), have declared support for Atiku Abubakar’s decision to seek legal redress over the 2019 presidential election result. The BNG, according to legit, stated that if alleged irregularities are allowed to stand unchallenged, it would affect the country’s democracy - BNG said anything short of going to court shall be tantamount to abandonment of the people’s mandate, and shall be a huge disappointment - The group also condemned the death of innocent citizens on Election Day in the course of performing their basic civic responsibility. Hear their spokesperson:

“We, therefore, wish to support the candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, to immediately resort to approaching the court for redress as this will strengthen our democracy. This is in a bid to claim the mandate which the people overwhelmingly gave to him through the ballot box. We frown, seriously, at the perceived contemplation that going to court means reneging on the peace accord. We understand that the courts are a part of a democratic process and reaching out to them for perceived grievances does not in any way mean war. It is important that the PDP candidate realizes and consistently keeps in his memory that it is not about him, but those who have given him the mandate. While we understand that he may be under tremendous pressure not to approach the court, we want to remind him that anything short of that shall be tantamount to abandonment of the people’s mandate, and shall be a huge disappointment. There really could not be true peace in the face of so much injustice. To ask for justice so that there may be peace, was only a short term measure. This could be likened to dressing a dirty wound. It will never heal. The possible long term impact of allowing this to stay unchallenged is so huge that the country may never recover from its impact.”

Atiku's legal team has already approached the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, and the members of the panel are Justices Abdul Aboki, Peter Ige and Emmanuel Agim, who on Wednesday, March 6, granted a request by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to be allowed to inspect the electoral materials used by the Independent National Electoral Commission for the conduct of the February 23 polls. But, the Tribunal rejected other prayers by the applicants seeking orders permitting them to, among others, photocopy and scan the electoral documents, and also refused their requests to be allowed to conduct forensic examination and forensic analysis of the materials, and to have access to card reader data and information contained in the smart card reader, cloud and electronic storage used for the polls. The reason for the refusal was that it was too early to allow for all these.

There are a lot of things Atiku's team will tell the courts while demanding for the reinstatement of his mandate: the card readers didn't function well in many places as the problem disenfranchised many voters; also election didn't hold in many polling units or wards or local government areas, as the case may be, across the country; there were also the cases of many underage voters; there was also a huge number of invalid votes probably caused by the problems of the card readers. Think of the difference it would have made if all the votes have counted. There were also cases of the number of votes being more than the number of registered voters etc. To put it bluntly, Buhari and his APC carry out voter suppression in PDP strongholds and votes inflation in APC strongholds.

The judiciary should know that it must do the right thing here as the anger evoked by the malpractices perpetrated by the APC in this presidential election is simmering and might erupt into something else soon. Nigerians are hoping that the judiciary will be the last hope of the common Nigerians to make their votes counts. The judiciary should never give us any reason to think like Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), the National Intervention Movement Co-chairman and a former NBA president, who has expressed doubts that Atiku would get justice because "President Muhammadu Buhari has subverted the Supreme Court by the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Walter Onnoghen, and the appointment of the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (Justice Muhammad Tanko)." A tree cannot make a forest.

Just as the BNG noted, Justices Abdul Aboki, Peter Ige, Emmanuel Agim, and the Nigerian judiciary should consider the case on its merit as the people shall be watching keenly as the events unfold.

The destiny and future of Nigeria are now in the hands of the judiciary. Atiku Abubakar places trust and faith in the judiciary, and that was confirmed during his meeting with members of the National Peace Committee sent to prevail upon him to abandon any litigation. In refusing to do as the committee and its sender wanted, Atiku said: “I have just inaugurated my legal team and charged them with the responsibility of ensuring that our stolen mandate is retrieved. I am encouraged by the presence of fearless men and women of the Bench. The judiciary, which had in the past discharged itself ably is once again being called upon to deliver judgment on this matter that will be untainted by lucre and unbowed by the threat of immoral power.” Atiku then assured Nigerians that sooner than later, these noble dispensers of justice will give a judgment that will represent a historic denunciation of electoral fraud and mandate.

To make a quick point here: I wonder how this INEC Chairman got that job. He plans to conduct a supplementary presidential election in some states after he has declared the winner. Tell me how he can declare a winner when the election was inconclusive? Somebody (Frank) noted that the planned supplementary election will be a decoy to validate the manipulated results. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) submitted a protest letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), insisting that the presidential election was manipulated in favor of the APC. Apart from the seven infringements the PDP pointed out (that) the INEC committed during the election, the part of the letter that I liked the most was the concluding paragraph where the PDP addressed the INEC chairman this: "We want to remind you that as we inch towards Saturday, March 9, 2019, elections, you must do everything to right these grave anomalies to save yourself and the commission from this woeful embarrassment as you may go down in history as the worst Chairman of INEC in our history". Yes, he is, of course, the worst INEC Chairman so far, because he has conducted the worst presidential election in our history.

Atiku Abubakar and the PDP are telling Nigerians not to be dismayed as hope is not yet lost, and help is on the way. According to the Vanguard, the party’s caucus “commended Nigerians for refusing the harassment, intimidation and militarization of the electoral process and participating in the election, but noted that the mandate that was freely given to their candidate was stolen and as such, the party and the candidate jointly resolved to go to the tribunal and reaching the end of what is permissible within our legal system to get back their mandate on behalf of Nigerians.” Atiku Abubakar, on his own part, while accusing the Nigerian government of employing intimidation and criminal conspiracy to silence the voice of the people, said: “Our national drive to make Nigeria work again has been slowed down by anti-democratic forces. 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.”






Continued from Part 1