The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has dismissed as reckless and groundless claims by the All Progressives Congress (APC) that its Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, is a Cameroonian.
The main opposition party said in a statement in Abuja yesterday that the claim is a calculated attempt by the APC to trivialise and divert attention from the compelling issue of “their criminal rigging of the 2019 Presidential election.”
Signed by Kola Ologbondiyan, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, the statement said it the disingenuous claim is also a woeful design by the APC to overburden, distract and bog down the Presidential election petition tribunal with trivialities, lies and falsehood, so as to derail the course of justice.
The PDP added: “Such diversionary tactic has however only helped in further exposing the fact that the APC has no answers to the plethora of overwhelming evidence before the tribunal that the election was won by Atiku Abubakar and the PDP.
“Whereas Atiku Abubakar’s citizenship by birth, even under our constitution, cannot be contested, it is indeed the biggest irony of the year, that Atiku’s citizenship is being disputed by individuals whose ancestry has always been a subject of debate.
“These individuals include those who, being not sure of their origins; have no love for Nigeria and even refused to be on the side of our nation at the 1985 summit of the defunct Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa.
“Such persons prefer to deploy our national resources for infrastructural development in affiliated places outside the shores of Nigeria when our country is in dire need of attention.
“The apparent links were further manifested in the participation of aliens in the campaigns of a particular Presidential candidate in Kano.
“Moreover, this claim by APC appears to contain explanations as to why its administration has remained insensitive to the challenge of the insurgency, general insecurity and economic travails of Nigerians in the North East, particularly in Adamawa, Yobe, Borno and Taraba States.
“In any case, Nigerians should not despair as the PDP and Atiku Abubakar will not be distracted in the pursuit of our mandate. The PDP has implicit confidence in the competence of our legal team to handle the diversionary antics and technicalities of the APC to unnecessarily overstrain the tribunal and derail the course of justice in the matter.”
Meanwhile, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, said he has been vindicated in his submission that he has verifiable and incontrovertible evidence to show that the last presidential elections were fraudulent, not credible and did not reflect the will of the Nigerian people.
He said the response of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) President Buhari, as well as the party is a vindication of the petition he filed at the Electoral Tribunal hearing the petition.
In a release signed by his spokesperson Mazi Paul Ibe, the former Vice President said he based his case on facts and statistical evidence and challenged both the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the APC, to disprove his factual submissions.
The release said: “That the APC chose to base its defence on the ridiculous assertion that the Waziri Adamawa is not a Nigerian should show to Nigerians the type of characters we have in the APC and its government, whose legitimacy runs out on May 29, 2019.
“The position of the APC is so pedestrian and shows such straw clutching desperation on their part, that I shall not dignify it with an answer. Our lawyers would, of course, do the needful in court. But the point I want to draw the attention of Nigerians to is that both the APC and its candidate have by this infantile logic admitted to the fact that they trampled on the will of Nigerians and that their only defence is to attempt an unconstitutional redefinition of the term ‘Nigerian.’
“I am, however, confident in the Nigerian judiciary, as well as in the Nigerian people. I trust that the Tribunal will treat such a claim with the contempt it deserves. We must maintain our fidelity to the rule of law and to our fountain of origin, the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended).”
The release reminded that Atiku Abubakar has served the nation diligently in various capacities, from the Civil Service, where he rose through merit, to the top of his chosen field, to public service, where, by the grace of God, he was the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Moreover, he has committed his assets and talents to developing our nation through the provision of tens of thousands of direct jobs and hundreds of thousands of indirect jobs. I make bold to state that those who have made Nigeria the world headquarters for extreme poverty are the very people whose Nigerianness should be in doubt, and not a man, who worked with President Olusegun Obasanjo to double the per capita income of our nation in less than eight years,” the statement said.
However, Lawyers have weighed in on the subject of who is a Nigerian.
A professor of Law, University of Benin, Benin City, Edoba Omoregie said where someone was born is irrelevant if before the country’s independence and after, the fellow’s parents were born in Nigeria or one of them was born in Nigeria to a community indigenous to Nigeria.
“I think the provisions in Chapter III of the Constitution is relevant because they provide for what make a Nigerian by birth. If you look closely at section 25 (1) (a) – (c) and (2), you will see that where you were born is irrelevant if before independence and after, your parents were born in Nigeria or one of them was born in Nigeria to a community indigenous to Nigeria. Or where before independence, your grandparents were born in Nigeria or one of them was born to a community indigenous to Nigeria,” he explained.
According to him, citizenship by birth also relates in the same context if the person was born in Nigeria and his parents or either of them, or any of his grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria. Any of them, he said, must belong to a community indigenous to Nigeria.
Omoregie said: “Now, on the issue of those born in a place not forming part of Nigeria, and none of whose parents or grandparents is a Nigerian pursuant to the foregoing provisions, the issue becomes relevant if the place can truly be said not to be part of Nigeria.
“Nigeria as we know it included the British trust territories of some areas of current Adamawa State and some areas of current Southern Cameroon. In 1961 those places were asked in a plebiscite to choose whether or not they wanted to remain in Nigeria. Prior to that time, persons from those areas were accorded recognition as British protected citizens of Nigeria like those in the entire Nigeria were so regarded.
“By independence in 1960, that situation continued until the plebiscite when parts of current Southern Cameroon chose to belong to Cameroon while part of current Adamawa chose to remain in Nigeria.
“It’s preposterous to suggest that even at independence, those territories where not Nigerian territories, when they weren’t also Cameroonian territory. Where then were they? No one can be stateless.”
He argued that the ancestral (indigenous background) roots is more than relevant because it immediately dispenses with where a Nigerian by birth (as provided in the Constitution) was actually born. If it is established that one of the parents or grandparents was or is from a community indigenous to Nigeria, such a person could be born even in Mars, and still be constitutionally regarded as a Nigerian by birth provided any of his parents or grandparents is of a community indigenous to Nigeria, he stressed.
“So, if a person was born in London in 1950, and his parents (or grandparents) were born in Nigeria or one of them was born in Nigeria; and from a community indigenous to Nigeria, that person is a Nigerian by birth,” he declared.
Also, Lagos based legal practitioner, Dr. Abiodun Layonu (SAN) described the allegation as silly.
“Seriously, this is silly by anyone saying this. The press should lambast anyone saying this. I’m APC but I don’t subscribe to this nonsense. Let’s find more serious points to raise,” he fumed.
Abuja based lawyer, Abubakar Sani is of the view that since Section 131 of the 1999 Constitution said one cannot contest for the Office of the President of Nigeria unless he is a citizen by birth, Atiku will have some explanations to make.
“I completely agree that that disqualifies Atiku who was allegedly born in Jada, Adamawa State at a time the place was part of Cameroon,” he stated.
According to him, the chickens have finally come home to roost and “those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court
The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the last presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare the seat of President Muhammadu Buhari vacant.
Owuru, who was among the four petitioners that went to tribunal to challenge Buhari’s re-election, in his fresh suit, sought for an order to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from “undertaking or planning any other election into the office of the President”, in 2023.
The Plaintiff, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/480/2021, maintained that Buhari is “an unlawful President that is illegally occupying the Presidential seat”.
It would be recalled that Owuru and his party, HDP, had in an earlier appeal they litigated up to the Supreme Court, insisted that the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, erroneously dismissed a petition they lodged against the return of Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election that held on February 23, 2019.
They specifically prayed the apex court to sack Buhari on the premise that he emerged through an illegal process.
According to the Appellants, INEC, failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.
The HDP claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.
However, in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Odili, struck out the appeal for constituting “a gross abuse of the judicial process”.
Meantime, in the fresh suit, Owuru and his party argued that their suit against Buhari at the Supreme Court was inconclusive.
The Plaintiffs argued that the case was fixed outside the 60 days period that was allowed by the law.
Owuru asked the court to declare him the authentic winner of the last presidential poll, as well as, to issue an order for his immediate inauguration to take over from Buhari.
He prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to serve out a tenure of 4 years after his formal inauguration.
More so, the HDP presidential candidate, aside from asking for Buhari’s immediate removal from office, equally prayed the court to compel him to refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected while he unlawfully stayed in office as President.
Owuru also asked the court to give an order that salaries, allowances and emoluments be paid to him from May 29, 2019, when he ought to have been sworn in, till date.
The Plaintiff further applied for, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves and acting through their agents, servants, privies and or proxies howsoever from any further organizing, undertaking or planning of any other election into the office of the President of Nigeria or any such other Presidential Election interfering, harassing and or disturbing the Applicant adjudged acquired right as unopposed and unchallenged winner of the original scheduled and held the February 16 Presidential Election thereof until the 1st Applicant unserved constitutional four years term of office is served pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit by this honourable court”.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and INEC.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.
World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by World Bank that 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in the last year, has clinically belied the integrity posturing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The opposition party said the World Bank report came in the face of the recent claims by President Buhari that his administration has lifted over 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.
The PDP asserted that the report by the World Bank has further vindicated its position that President Buhari runs an uncoordinated and clueless administration that thrives on lies, false performance claims, deceit, and perfidious propaganda.
The statement added that, “Nigerians can now clearly see why the APC and President Buhari’s handlers are always in a frenzy to attack our party and other well-meaning Nigerians whenever we point to the poor handling of the economy and on the need for President Buhari to always be factual on pertinent issues of governance in our country.
“Unfortunately, it indeed appears that Mr. President enjoys living in denial while watching millions of Nigerians go down in abject poverty, excruciating hunger, and starvation as our country now ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index under his watch.
“Otherwise, why would Mr. President claim that his administration has lifted over 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty while official figures even from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show worsening poverty rate with 142.2% growth in food inflation and over 82.9 million Nigerians being unable to afford their daily meals due to the failure of the administration to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector?
“Under President Buhari, Nigerians are now subjected to the worst form of poverty and hardship, with collapsed purchasing power, occasioned by a voodoo economy management that has wrecked our productive sectors and pummeled our naira from the about N167 to a US dollar in 2015 to the current over N500 per dollar.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. President will choose to always bandy fictitious figures and false performance claims, when he has, in a space of six years, destroyed our national productivity and reduced our country to a beggarly nation, a laughing stock and object of pity among the comity of nations.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note President Buhari and APC’s similar false performance claims in other critical sectors, including power, transportation, road infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, security, aviation among others, where the Buhari administration has been bandying fictitious figures with no tangible project to point at.
“Our party counsels President Buhari, his handlers as well as their party, the APC, to note that Nigerians have seen through their deceitful clams.
“The PDP, once again, urges Mr. President to end his false performance claims and get more competent hands to manage the economy before every Nigerian is turned into a street beggar.”
Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation
Amnesty International has strongly opposed the call by the Nigerian Government to regulate the use of social media and online broadcasters.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.
The minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act organised by the House Committee on Information.
“I will want to add, that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content— including Twitter,” he said.
Reacting, Amnesty International, in a tweet via its Twitter account, yesterday, kicked against the motion.
It noted that when social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media.
It further noted that criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“When social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the Internet and limit access to social media.
“Criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“Regulating social media in Nigeria could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’
“Seeking a law to prohibit abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary,” the statement added.
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