The presidential and National Assembly elections have come, but the fallout may not go away soon. Although returns have been made and in the case of the presidential position certificate of return has been issued to the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari, candidate of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Atiku Abubakar says he is not letting go of the process. As a result, he and his party have indicated their intention to challenge the result in the tribunal. He made this disclosure during his first response to the declaration of the presidential election result, early hours of Wednesday last week. Over the weekend, he went a step further together with his party to inaugurate a legal team led by Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Dr, Livy Uzoukwu.
In his rejection of the result, the former vice president stated clearly that there were several infractions that characterised the presidential poll. Hear him, “with regards to the Presidential elections that took place on February 23, 2019, it is clear that there were manifest and premeditated malpractices in many states which negate the results announced.
One obvious red flag is the statistical impossibility of states ravaged by war on terror generating much higher voters turnouts than peaceful states. The suppressed votes in my strongholds are so apparent and amateurish, that I am ashamed as a Nigerian that such could be allowed to happen. How can total votes in Akwa-Ibom, for instance, be 50% less than what they were in 2015? He queried.
He pointed out also that there were issues of voters suppression and even inordinate militarisation. “Another glaring anomaly is the disruption of voting in strongholds of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers and diverse other states, with the authorities doing little or nothing and in some cases facilitating these unfortunate situations.
The militarization of the electoral process is a disservice to our democracy and a throwback to the jackboot era of military dictatorship. In some areas of the country, such as, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Imo states, troops deployed for the elections turned their guns on the very citizens they were meant to protect. This is condemnable and should not be associated with our electoral process in the future.
“I am a democrat and there are democratic avenues available to present the truth to the nation and the watching world. Already, many international observers have given their verdicts, which corroborate our observations. I am sure more will come in the coming hours and days.
If I had lost in a free and fair election, I would have called the victor within seconds of my being aware of his victory to offer not just my congratulations, but my services to help unite Nigeria by being a bridge between the North and the South. However, in my democratic struggles for the past three decades, I have never seen our democracy so debased as it was on Saturday, February 23, 2019. 2007 was a challenge, but President Yar’Adua was remorseful. In 2019, it is sad to see those who trampled on democracy thumping their noses down on the Nigerian people.”
For the above reasons, the PDP candidate vowed to challenge the return made by INEC. He declared, “Consequently, I hereby reject the result of the February 23, 2019 sham election and will be challenging it in court. I want to assure my supporters and the entire Nigerian people that together, we will not allow democracy to be emasculated. I hope and pray Nigerians will someday summon the courage to defend democracy. That is the only way we can move away from being the world headquarters for extreme poverty”.
For us, we state unequivocally that every candidate that stood for election has the right to challenge the outcome in court if he or she feels sufficient injustice in the system. Therefore, we do not support any group of persons or individuals who may wish to pressure Atiku to back down. His decision to toe the tortuous path of legal interpretation is the civilized thing to do. If he did otherwise or probably instigated violence that would not earn our support.
Nigerians must learn to travel the narrow road at times like this. The easiest thing to do now is to offer counsel, but if the candidate through his field operations feels shortchanged, he must be encouraged to go to court. We hope however, that the process of litigation will be dealt with swiftly. It is important we regularly test our institutions to ensure they have not been weather-beaten. It will be good to get the courts to expose what exactly happened on February 23, 2019.