War of words has erupted between the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over Wednesday’s judgment of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, which affirmed the election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Federal Government, yesterday, told the PDP and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to apologise to Nigerians for wilfully distracting the Buhari administration with a “frivolous election petition.”
The tribunal had ruled that the petitioners failed to prove their petition beyond a reasonable doubt.
However, Atiku, through one of his lawyers, immediately after the judgment, said he would appeal.
Minister for information and culture, Lai Mohammed, in a statement by his media aide yesterday, said 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 judgment validating the re-election of President Muhammadu 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,” he said.
The minister said the PDP and Atiku should thank their stars that they were not being prosecuted for coming to court with fraudulently-obtained evidence, instead of casting aspersions on the judiciary with their poorly-framed reaction to the ruling of the tribunal.
“It is intriguing that a party that trumpets the rule of law at every turn will present, in open court, evidence it claimed to have obtained by hacking into a supposed INEC 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,” he said.
But the PDP has told the APC to be cautious in its celebration, predicting their joy would be short-lived.
The PDP, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the tribunal judgment was a direct miscarriage of justice, and would not stand at the Supreme Court.
The opposition party noted that, owing to the weight of evidence against Buhari and the APC, it had no doubt that the apex court would do justice in the issue.
The party said Mohammed’s “unguarded outburst” had heightened tension in the polity about alleged manipulation of the process by the Presidency and the ruling party.
“The PDP notes that 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?
“In the meantime, the PDP counsels Lai Mohammed to redeem his image by offering explanations to Nigerians on his alleged role in the N2.5 billion National Broadcasting Commission fraud before casting aspersions on others,” the opposition party stated.
Also responding to the call for Atiku to apologise, Paul Ibe, Atiku’s media aide, questioned the “type of weed” the information minister smokes.
“Lai: Atiku should apologise to Nigerians,” Ibe tweeted.
“Me: For real? What type of weed are you smoking? It can only be #CertifiedWeed.”
Meanwhile, national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, has maintained that, even if PDP decided to go to the World Court, it would still suffer defeat.
“The Supreme Court 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.
“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 magisterial 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 (Uche) Secondus at the Supreme Court and he will take second and I will take first, insha Allah.”
In a related development, stakeholders in the South West rose from a meeting in Ibadan, Oyo State, yesterday and threw their weight behind Atiku Abubakar’s plan to appeal the judgment.
The meeting, hosted by Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, in Government House, Ibadan, had in attendance leaders of the PDP, including national deputy chairman (South), Elder Yemi Akinwonmi; national vice chairman (South West), Dr. Eddy Olafeso, and all chairmen of the party in zone.
According to the communique read at the end of the meeting by Olafeso, Atiku should proceed to the apex court, based on the belief that he did not get justice from the tribunal.
“We take serious view of the verdict of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal on the petitions of our party and candidate, Atiku Abubakar, therefore, put on record our disappointment that justice was not done, in view of the plethora of evidence laid before it, and resolve to support the party to appeal against same at the Supreme Court.”
Incidentally, the APC, Anambra State chapter, has commended the gladiators in the February 23 presidential election for their roles, which have advanced Nigeria’s democracy.
The party particularly applauded the PDP and Atiku for enriching the country’s democracy through litigation.
In a statement by the state publicity secretary, Okelo Madukaife, the APC said the commendation to PDP and its candidate was because they took the outcome of the election to court, noting that ligation was part of the democratic process.
APC further said, “We commend Vice President Atiku Abubakar for his determination to see the electoral process completed to the gain of Nigeria’s democratic process and growth of the nation’ s jurisprudence. We commend the PDP for being an important partner in this process and urge restraint and moderation where desirable particularly in the light of the transparency of the issues canvassed in the electoral tribunal.”
It, however, said now the matter was rested all should close ranks and build a formidable country.
Dr. Bashir Yankuzu, lecturer at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, has called on Atiku to take the judgment in good faith and support President Buhari.
“I expect Abubakar now to put the election matters behind , cooperate with Buhari-led government for peace, progress and political stability in our country , Yankuzu told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Minna in Minna.
He said that the judgment was a relief to the nation and opportunity for both the ruling party and opposition to work together for the common good of the country.
NAN reports that the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on Wednesday upheld the election of Buhari as the actual winner of the Feb. 23 presidential election. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in
Responding to the demand that Atiku should apologise to Nigerians for distracting the government by appealing the verdict of the presidential election petition tribunal, Paul Ibe, media aide of the opposition candidate questioned the “type of weed” the information minister smokes.
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