Federal Govt: Atiku gave false evidence at tribunal

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THE dust generated by President Muhammadu Buhari’s Wednesday victory at the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) is yet to settle.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which lost along with its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, said “the victory will be short-lived” because the Supreme Court would quash it.

But, APC National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole and the Federal Government said the PDP’s appeal will be an exercise in futility.

Defeat awaits the PDP at the apex court, Oshiomhole added.

Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, who congratulated Buhari after the verdict, has explained his action.

He said it was better to offer public congratulations than to visit the President at night.

Wike said that unlike some PDP governors who visit President Buhari at night, he made his declaration public because it came from the heart.

Also, Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the PDP and Atiku should be prosecuted for presenting “fraudulent evidence”, before the tribunal.

Speaking on Thursday in St. Petersburg, Russia, he said the PDP and its candidate should apologise to Nigerians instead of appealing the verdict.

The minister recommended the PDP and its candidate for prosecution.

He said they deserved to be prosecuted for allegedly presenting fraudulent evidence before the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC), which on Wednesday threw out their appeal and affirmed President Buhari’s election.

In a statement, the minister urged the PDP and Atiku to drop the idea of approaching the Supreme Court to seek redress.

Mohammed is leading the Nigerian delegation to the 23rd General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

The statement was signed by his media aide, Mr. Segun Adeyemi, and made available to reporters on Thursday in Abuja.

It reads: “Instead of casting aspersion on the judiciary with their poorly-framed reaction to the ruling of the tribunal, the PDP and its candidate should be thanking their stars that they are not being prosecuted for coming to court with fraudulently-obtained evidence.

“It is intriguing that a party that trumpets the rule of law at every turn will present, in an open court, evidence it claimed to have obtained by hacking into a supposed INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) server.

“Don’t they realise this is a criminal act for which they are liable?

“Instead of threatening to head to the Supreme Court, driven more by ego than common sense, they should be sorry for allowing desperation to overwhelm their sense of reasoning. Enough is enough,” Mohammed, who is UNWTO’s Vice President (Africa), said.

The minister said Atiku and the PDP should apologise to Nigerians for wilfully distracting the President Buhari administration with a frivolous election petition, instead of appealing Wednesday’s ruling.

He noted that while the PDP and its candidate reserve the right to pursue their petition to the highest level, “they would be better served by dropping their toga of desperation and realising that there is a limit to tomfoolery.

“Nigerians are tired of this orchestrated distraction, and will rather wish that the opposition, having lost at the polls and in court, will now join hands with the government to move Nigeria to the next level.

“This is more so that the judgement validating the re-election of President Buhari was unanimous that the petition lacked merit; that the petitioners failed to prove any of the grounds upon which their case was anchored and that President Buhari is eminently qualified to contest the poll.”

The minister praised the tribunal for not only doing justice to the case, but for explaining, in painstaking details that lasted hours, how it arrived at its judgment.

“We also thank Nigerians, who voted massively to re-elect President Buhari, for their continued support,” he said.

Oshiomhole, who spoke with reporters at the State House in Abuja, expressed optimism that no surprise would come out from the Supreme Court since the judges “are most likely to rely on the Appeal Court’s ruling.

The APC chair accompanied APC women leaders from the national, zonal and 36 states of the federation to a meeting with President Buhari.

The women were led by the APC National Women’s Leader, Hajia Salamatu Umar-Eluma, to congratulate the President on his victory at the tribunal and to thank him for appointing seven women into his 43-member cabinet.

Oshiohmole said: “We as a party are confident that if it is within the Nigerian law for PDP to go even to the world court, we will meet them there. The Supreme Court of Nigeria is not that of PDP or the APC, the Supreme Court is governed by law and is to interpret the evidence before the Court of Appeal.

“They are not at liberty to introduce new issues neither can they bring in new witnesses. So, if it is what I heard yesterday which I believe you also heard, thanks to the media, most Nigerians were detained for eight hours listening to arguments of the judges one after the other.

“Even though we thought it was getting longer and longer, we realised that they tried to deal with the issues raised, even the ones you and I as a layman will consider consequential, they dealt with each of them, trashed them and arrived at a conclusion.

“So, I don’t want to sound arrogant. Yesterday (Wednesday), I said that I hope this whole contestation is about Nigeria who actually won the election and both parties are committed to building Nigeria and is not about who should be given the key.

“Now, this has been resolved and it is time to queue behind the winner and move on. Our winner is the best example that losing election is not tantamount to the end of your political life. He lost three and today he is the President.

“But, when I see the arrogance with which they pronounce and they bring what I call television lawyers, who pronounced with some managerial finality as if they are judges even without any evidence before them, let me now say authoritatively, we are now ready to meet them.

“President Buhari is now ready to meet defeated Atiku Abubakar at the Supreme Court and the APC is ready to meet the PDP at the Supreme Court and Adams Oshiomhole is ready to meet my brother Secondus at the Supreme Court and he will take second and I will take first, Isha Allah.”

The APC chair insisted that they were not in doubt that victory would come their way.

According to him, the “PDP just seems to blackmail every institution so that their candidate can become the president even if it is not the will of the Nigerian people”.

Oshiomhole said the PDP and its presidential candidate “reduced the election to social media speculations and bringing sources that are laughable even at beer parlour conversations.”

The PDP urged the APC not to rejoice yet over the Appeal Court ruling, which it believed would soon be upturned.

Its spokesman, Kola Ologbodiyan, urged Mohammed to be cautious in celebrating the judgment, saying that “his gloating will be short-lived”.

According to the opposition party, Wednesday’s ruling by the PEPC was a direct miscarriage of justice that cannot stand at the Supreme Court.

The PDP said given the weight of the evidence against President Buhari and the APC, the Appeal Court judgment will be upturned by the Supreme Court.

The statement by the spokesman said: “Those celebrating this attempt to corrupt our justice system as well as the brazen approval of a clear case of perjury are directly telling Nigerians something about their conscience and character.

“Our party is not surprised that Lai Mohammed, speaking for the Buhari administration, came short of calling for the arrest and prosecution of opposition members for coming before the Appeal Court, a situation which exposed their belief that they own the court and can determine the position of the judiciary on any matter.

“Notwithstanding, the PDP holds that Nigerians have seen the ‘several errors’ in the judgment delivered by the Appeal Court and have turned the verdict to a butt of jokes in public space.

“We invite Lai Mohammed to tell Nigerians if his Law degree was awarded to him on the basis of a sworn affidavit and pictures of his classmates; or was his Call to Bar at the Nigerian Law School also based on presentation of pictures and affidavit?”

The PDP accused the APC-led administration of manipulating the process, saying: “This is more the reason the PDP stands with Nigerians in heading to the Supreme Court to uphold justice in the matter and salvage our nation from this drift towards impunity, anarchy and lawlessness”.

The party urged the minister to explain his role alleged N2.5 billion “fraud” at the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

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