The Obi-Datti Campaign Organisation yesterday declared that with the damning evidence before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PREPEC) in Abuja against President Bola Tinubu, he would not participate in the rerun election should the poll be annulled.
Also, the Special Assistant on Public Communication to Atiku Abubakar, Mr. Phrank Shaibu, said that there is palpable fear in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on the likelihood of the court upturning the election of President Tinubu.
Spokesperson and Head of Media of the organisation, Mr. Diran Onifade, told THISDAY yesterday that President Tinubu’s legal team did not only mislead him but also effortlessly tried to hoodwink the Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-man panel.
President Tinubu had last Tuesday appealed to the justices of the PREPEC to exclude the presidential candidate of the LP, Mr. Peter Obi, and his party in the event of any rerun presidential election, claiming that only he and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, are constitutionally qualified to recontest the rerun election.
Tinubu, through his lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), and the counsel to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), had argued that should the justices of the court void the February 25, 2023, presidential election, Obi and his party should not be allowed to re-contest.
Olanipekun had while arguing his final written address, declared that Obi should not be allowed to participate in the rerun election because he came third in the race.
But the LP described the claim by Tinubu’s lawyers as an attempt to foist his position on the panel of justices, adding that if there would be any rerun, Tinubu would not be on the ballot based on the evidence before the PREPEC.
Onifade said Tinubu’s appeal for the exclusion of Obi and the LP from participating in the proposed rerun and his last-minute effort to challenge the outcome of the election in Kano State showed that he has lost the votes allegedly stolen from Obi in Rivers and Benue states.
He said: “If there will be a second election, it will be between the top two. Tinubu will not be among the top two because all the issues we raised are enough to disqualify him. The certificate forgery, the drug trafficking forfeiture, the invalid nomination of his vice, etc. All those things would have disqualified him in the first place.
“So, he is not going to be on the ballot. All these things that his lawyers are doing are just to make him comfortable. They have misled him and are also trying to mislead and hoodwink the justices. The justices are not foolish.
“They are claiming that the constitution says that even if it’s true that he has a case of forfeiture, after 10 years, you have been cleared. But that is not true. They are just being clever by half. The section of the constitution they are talking about has so many subsections and only one of them has the 10 years moratorium and it doesn’t cover him.
“So, if there is going to be another election, their man would have been disqualified,” Onifade explained.
On the claim that Obi came third, he said: “We talked about the figure we put together from Rivers State and Benue State. They didn’t even address those at all. When you remove what they stole in Rivers and Benue states and you add to Obi’s, their own figures would have gone down and Obi won’t be in the third position again.”
Asked if the figures in Rivers and Benue states would be enough to displace either Tinubu or Atiku, he said the issue was still subjudice, adding however, that for the APC and Tinubu to come from behind to challenge the results in Kano in the last minute, while on the other hand appealing to exclude Obi from a possible rerun, left a lot to be desired.
“We can’t prejudge the tribunal. But let’s say for the sake of your question, if you remove one million from eight million, it will go down to seven million. And when you add that one million to six million, that will amount to seven million. We have a professor that did all the calculations. It’s a pity that we didn’t have the time to carry out the calculations nationwide. They know it’s damaging to them.
“If not, how come that a state like Kano that we are not even contesting with them, was brought to the tribunal to challenge that votes were stolen from them in Kano?” Onifade queried.
He explained that “their (APC) calculation is that by the time what they stole from Rivers and Benue states are deducted, their votes would have gone down and if the tribunal grants them what they claimed they lost in Kano, it might make up for what is deducted from them.
“Even those of us who are laymen, know that their lawyers are playing mind games because it’s one thing they would say in the evidence they have tendered and it’s another that their witnesses will say under oath.
“For instance, under oath, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele admitted that their man forfeited money and it’s about narcotics trafficking. He admitted that under oath. The same forfeiture they have been going about saying that it’s a civil case. Then again, the INEC witness even though he tendered a document that the uploading on IReV was not part of the mandatory process, in his testimony before the justices, changed it and said the process included uploading through the IReV.
“The court document that they tendered, they said the case was about narcotics trafficking. That’s the exact words in that document. And then the certificate issue. The one he presented to INEC was not issued by the university. That’s a forgery,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Special Assistant on Public Communication to Atiku, Shaibu, has said that there is palpable fear in the ruling APC on the likelihood of the court upturning Tinubu’s election.
Shaibu, in an exclusive interview with THISDAY at the weekend, said: “Now that pleadings have been concluded in the petition challenging the February 25 presidential election, it is easy to decipher that the declaration of the APC as winner of the election is standing on shaky grounds.”
He said further that there was a high possibility that the court would upturn the purported election of President Tinubu, and strengthen electoral processes in Nigeria.
“The uneasy calm in the camp of the APC is in apprehension about submissions and admission of some fundamental facts during the adoption of final written addresses in the two major petitions challenging the declaration of Tinubu by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as winner of the last presidential election.
“At the adoption of final addresses, Tinubu’s camp conceded to two major facts that have made his key supporters across the country jittery on what may befall them in the final decision of the tribunal.
“Among other admitted and undisputed fundamental facts at the proceedings were that Tinubu actually forfeited a sum of $460,000 through the judgment of the United States of America’s court for his established involvement in narcotics and money laundering related offences.”
Phrank added that another fact was the unchallenged admission of the INEC that Atiku won the February 25 presidential election in 21 states of the federation, the claim which ought to have made the electoral umpire to declare him as the lawful winner of the poll.
“Besides the two major facts, the qualifications of Tinubu for the poll may also take centre stage in the scrutiny of the tribunal following the admission of the President in his INEC form EC009 wherein he admitted having not attended any primary or Secondary School in Nigeria.
“This is in contrast to his claim to the same electoral body in 1998 where in his own hand writing, admitted graduating at a Primary School at Aroyaya in Lagos and at Government College Ibadan, Oyo State.
“Tinubu’s legal team at the adoption of final address led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN conceded that the President was actually punished by an American court and was made to forfeit the $460,000 found in his bank account as proceeds of heinous crime of narcotics trafficking and money laundering.
“Similar admission was made through the APC represented by Lateef Fagbemi, SAN.
“The two legal teams, however, asked the tribunal to invoke the forgiving spirit of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution to overlook the judgment of the US court on the forfeiture on the ground that the verdict was handed to Tinubu more than 30 years ago.”
He said: “It is ridiculous that the holder of the President of Nigeria will stand before an open court and be pleading for clemency for a crime on narcotics and money laundering.
“The admission by INEC that Atiku won in 21 states of the federation which, uptil now, has not been controverted by INEC itself, is another factor giving the APC sleepless night.
“At the last opportunity to rebut the claims and denounce it, the electoral body completely slept off, fuelling the belief that the electoral umpire knows what it is doing in its entirety.”