Obi rejects Atiku’s plea, as both declare 2023 presidential poll worst in Nigeria’s history
Labour Party (LP’s) presidential candidate, Peter Obi, has waved off the plea of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar to join forces with him (Atiku) rather than approach the court over the outcomeof Staurday’s presidentialelection in Nigeria.
Abubakar and Obi have rejected the outcome of last Saturday’s polls and vowed to challenge the result in court.
Atiku said the election was the worst since the return of democracy in Nigeria, stressing that he will fight in court to deepen Nigerian democracy by correcting the wrongs allegedly orchestrated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Atiku also advised Obi to abandon plans of approaching courts to challenge the 2023 presidential election result since the votes he got in the exercise were less and did not meet the provisions stated in the country’s constitution.
He said rather than go ahead with his plan of approaching the court to challenge the result, the former governor of Anambra State should team up with him (Atiku), who came second and had votes that met the stipulated requirements, to reclaim the alleged stolen mandate from the APC.
But Obi disregarded Atiku’s advice and claimed victory for himself in the presidential election, saying he would prove that in court.
Both spoke at separate press conferences in Abuja on Thursday where they reacted to the declaration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu by INEC as president-elect on the platform of APC.
INEC maintained that the election was free, fair and in line with the Electoral Act 2022.
Addressing journalists at the Shehu Musa Yar`Adua Centre, Atiku said, “The dreams and aspirations of Nigerians who braced all the challenges to go and cast their votes were shattered by the conduct of the INEC, which failed to live up to expectations. The weekend election was neither free nor fair.
“Preliminary assessments indicate that it is the worst conducted elections since the return to democratic rule. The manipulation and fraud that attended this election were unprecedented in the history of our nation.
“I can still not understand why the electoral umpire was in such a hurry to conclude collation and announcement of the result, given the number of complaints of irregularities, of bypassing of the BVAS, failure of uploading to the IREV, and unprecedented cancellations and disenfranchisement of millions of voters in breach of the Electoral Act and the commission’s own guidelines. It was indeed a rape of democracy.”
Atiku also said having consulted with party leaders and Nigerians from different walks of life, he had come to the conclusion that the processes and outcome of the presidential and National Assembly polls were grossly flawed in every material particular, and must be challenged.
“This has been attested to by both local and international observers. I want to believe that this was not the legacy that President Muhammadu Buhari had promised. For President Buhari, it is not too late to make amends for the good of our country and future generations and indeed to assure his legacy.
“This battle to right the wrongs of last Saturday is not about me. It is a continuation of my battles to deepen democracy and for a better life for our people. It is about the future of Nigerian youths,” Atiku further stated.
While calling on all men and women of goodwill to join hands with them “in the vanguard to defend the constitution from the brigandage of anti-democratic forces”, Atiku added that, “It is my hope that the judiciary will redeem itself this time around and rise to the society’s expectations as the last hope.”
In a related development, Atiku’s party, PDP on Thursday rejected the declaration of Tinubu as president-elect and asked INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to him.
Debo Ologunagba, national publicity secretary of the party said: “The PDP holds that its presidential candidate clearly won the February 25, 2023 election, having evidently scored the majority of lawful votes cast by Nigerians at the polling units.
“Sadly, the election was marred by deliberate malpractices, including the non-use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and INEC’s refusal to transmit directly the results from polling units to its server/website in flagrant violation of Section 60 (4)(b) of the Electoral Act 2022.
“Consequently, our party and its presidential candidate have commenced action for legal redress to reclaim our victory in the 2023 presidential election.”
On his part, Obi insisted that he won last Saturday’s presidential election and was ready to prove it.
At a press conference in Abuja, Obi described the election as “a daylight robbery” and that he would use all legitimate means, including the courts, to reclaim the mandate.
He berated INEC for allegedly conducting “the worst elections in Nigeria’s history”, which he said fell below the minimum standard, adding that he believed in the judiciary to do justice.
“We won the election and will explore all legal action to reclaim our candidate. I have been asked to go to the court and we will prove how we won the election,” Obi said.
While asking his supporters to remain calm and peaceful, he said: “Elections have been conducted and results announced as programmed. It is a clear deviation from electoral rules and guidelines as we were promised. This election as you know did not meet the minimum standard expected of a free, transparent, credible, fair election. It would go down as one of the most controversial elections ever conducted in Nigeria.”
The APC on Thursday responded to the claims made by Atiku and Obi over the INEC declaration of its candidate as the winner in last Saturday’s election,
Festus Keyamo, the director of public affairs and chief spokesman, Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, said Atiku should be thankful that he even exceeded expectations in the elections by coming second.
“With all the distractions and fractured party with which he campaigned, he must have sensed beforehand that he was headed for a humiliating defeat that should have put him a distant third or fourth in the elections.
“His performance was therefore the best he could achieve.”
Keyamo said Atiku breached the zoning principle within his own party by insisting on running for president when that was clearly against the mood of the nation.
“Even after emerging as a candidate, the PDP itself continued to rub insult on the faces of southern leaders in the party by insisting on keeping the position of national chairman in the North.
“This obviously led to the rebellion of the G5 governors and their subsequent sabotage of the PDP before the polls and at the polls by campaigning against Atiku’s candidature. His failure to unite his party and manage this post-primaries fallout was his eventual undoing.”
Bayo Onanuga, the director, media and publicity of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, said Obi’s decision to seek redress in court as an aggrieved party was welcome.
Onanuga, however, said contrary to Obi’s claim, the election in contention was one of the most transparent and peaceful in the history of Nigeria.
“It is because the process was credible that made it possible for Obi to record the over six million votes he got contrary to pre-election forecasts.
“The Labour Party and Obi surprised bookmakers by winning in Lagos, Nasarawa, Plateau, Delta and Edo where there are sitting governors of either APC or the Peoples Democratic Party. Those governors have entrenched political machinery. That Obi won attests to the credibility of the election process,” he said.
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