• Friday, September 22, 2023
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2023 Election Tribunal: ‘Judges must understand that it is Judiciary that is on trial’

Presidential Election Tribunal: PDP expresses confidence in judiciary

Pedro Obaseki, is the Director, Research, Strategy and Documentation of the PDP Campaign Council. He recently met with a group of journalists in Abuja, where he highlighted the flaws that trailed the February 25 Presidential election and appealed to the Judiciary to save Nigeria from sliding into precipice, JOHN OSADOLOR, BusinessDay Head of Northern Operation and TONY AILEMEN were there. Excerpts:

Can you talk us through your own assessment of the 2023 general election, especially the Presidential election?

We have gone through a round of the most dastardly skewed election in the history of this country, I don’t want to say since the return to democracy. It is a fact that this election was indeed brazenly rigged beyond all known ethics and ramifications.

However, what is a little bit disturbing in the media space, particularly in the social media space, is not that the election was stolen, but from whom was it stolen? There must be a frontline, primary victim of the theft. The first-degree victim of that is my party and presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

Secondly, we are aware that in Nigeria since the 1960 independence and since we became a Republic in 1963, no court has upturned even the most brazen election before now. But all those elections pale in comparison to what befell Nigerians in 2023.

It is important that we put the Nigerian judiciary on notice that the Justices of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, who are the primary and final arbiters in this election imbroglio, that the onus lie upon them to look at both the spirits and letters of the law and the very marginalized feelings of every Nigerian and do what is right and correct in the public domain so as to save this country and the sanctity of our commonwealth

They must understand that the 2023 presidential election tribunal proceeding is not just about the petitioners and the respondents that are on trial. It is the Nigerian judiciary that is on trial. This is why I called my friends who are the fourth estate of the realm and those who must be the forebearers of the conscience of this country so that we begin to talk and not be dwarfed in the noise of the theft.

I was in the very fulcrum, the very engine room. I was in charge of strategy, from drafting to curating and monitoring of the elections from all the 176, 000 plus polling units across the country. I know who won not only because the person is my principal but because the truth must be told. We can no longer continue in this brigand disregard of our people.

If you say Atiku won the elections, how many votes did he poll and how did you arrive at your own figures?

The situation room of the PDP was tied to every polling unit agent across the 176, 800 PU across the country. We had automatic feedback via satellite and all the networks to know what the BVAS positions were at each of the polling units. We were also aware that following the announcement, and the assurances from INEC, we knew that we cannot take all they said to the bank.

So, we had fallback options so as to be able to follow this election from the time the votes are cast until they are uploaded and announced. Me and the former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka who was Director of Election Intelligence put in place all the visceral necessities to be able to monitor this election and that is why I can authoritatively state without fear or favour that the results of Atiku Abubakar were more or less vagrantly swapped and given to Mr Ahmed Bola Tinubu. That is a statement of fact.

Of the 176, 000 plus PU result on the midnight Of February 26th, that is the day after the election, Atiku had already crossed 8.7 million votes and we were leading and having the requisite spread in 27 states of the federation. If any candidate was to be declared the first-line winner, in terms of the total votes cast in this election, it would have been Atiku Abubakar.

You can also see that in spite of the skewed results that were proclaimed by INEC, our presence and spread apart from the South-East, where we came a distant second, we had the requisite spread in Osun state, winning two states of the South-South; three states in the North Central, sweeping part of Kano State, the entire North-East and the North-West. These are statements of fact.

As persons who were stakeholders in the election matrix, as at the midnight of February 26th, everybody knew that Atiku was well ahead until devilish Mephistophelean persons bent on dwarfing the collective will of our people and stealing our commonwealth and mandate so freely given, started changing figure. I keep wondering why most of the press have not been asking questions. Why are we having 51, 602 mutilated results?

What was the reason why Mr Yakubu would hurriedly announce results when more than 70% of the PU were still not uploaded by BVAS on the INEC portal on the IREV? Why the rush? Why was the INEC chairman in such haste to tell Nigerians “go to court”? It means that he wanted to do what we call in law, funtus officio. That is, declare a new status quo so that everybody will be battling to go to court irrespective of the illegality that had happened.

I will give a very simple example: In Zamfara state in one of the LGA, Atiku had 46, 070 votes, Tinubu had 32,006 votes and they were written in black ink. And in the BVAS, the uploaded result, a blue ben was used in striking out the zero from Atiku’s 46, 070 votes while using the same blue biro to add a zero to Tinubu’s 3, 206. Immediately, the election result in that very area was upturned by men of darkness, by men who want to see this nation that is already sitting on a keg of gunpowder implode.

What do you now have? A man who scored 46, 070 votes is suddenly deleted to read 4, 607, while for the party that scored 3,006, a zero is added and the election result in that place is turned to 32, 060. That is the humungous monumental, devilish act by anybody.

Nigeria is becoming the laughing stock of all comity of nations simply because a simple civic duty earnestly engaged in by millions of Nigerians had been stolen by a Mephistophelean few who are bent on foisting on our nation rulership, a dictatorship via the pretences of the ballot box. This must be heard!

If for example, we have a situation of this nature, what would a recognized electoral body do? Like they did in certain pockets only where it didn’t favour their preferred candidacies. You will stop the elections as it is written in the Electoral and prescribed in the constitution of our country.

That aside, why was there the rush in spite of the fact that even in their skewed results which gave Tinubu less than 37 % in their already skewed results, disenfranchising 63 % of Nigerians? Why would you jump to announce Tinubu when he did not even meet the basic constitutional requirement of having 25 %, a quarter of the votes cast in 2/3 or 24 of 36 states and a quarter of the votes cast in the FCT?

These are issues that we should be questioning putting in the public domain. Whether or not the court proceedings have started or not is of lesser consequence because talking about the elections will not make it subduces because I am not a direct party, I am not a petitioner, and neither am I the petitioned. You have to be the petitioner or the petitioned for you to make it subjudice.

These are issues and it is as if the elections came, the elections went, stolen brazenly so and the purported winner, three weeks gone by, Nigerians don’t know who he is, where he is, what is about him. A man who is supposed to be in the public domain and the press is silent. Nigerians are silent and what is left?

When the Businessdays of this world, AIT, Channels, Daily Trust, Vanguard, Punch and Guardian and all the other empirically trusted media decide to play the Ostrich and be silent. As a communicator, life abhors a vacuum and as a result of that, people are inundating social media with mountains of misinformation, and disinformation and the collateral damage is being done to the very fabric, to the fibre of the Nigerian nation as it.

Read also: Election petitions: Can the judiciary save Nigeria’s fragile democracy?

It is time for us to come out and speak the truth as it is to state clearly without fear or favour that Mr Bola Tinubu is the beneficiary of a rogue process. He is the beneficiary of a stolen mandate. He is like the captain-in-chief of Ali Baba and the 40 thieves. It is time that we make it clear that Nigerians must ask our umpire, INEC to give us the results that Nigerians went to cast and not their skewed cancelled results which have become all over the place.

This is key! To add to it, it is imperative for the Nigerian judiciary -all the justices of the Court of Appeal that will constitute the Presidential Election tribunal to know that the future of this country is hinged on them doing the right thing. The Supreme Court which this will go to therefrom must know that the tomorrow of Nigeria as a corporate entity, as a nation that is supposedly the leader of the black race, the future of that country cannot be declared as an Abiku- as a nation born dead. God will be able to reposition Nigeria again and drag us out of these doldrums.

We must understand that today, all the parties that were involved in this election have been whipped openly and brazenly by a siren dictatorship of the ballot box led by the APC, which has become a weight on all Nigerians, a burden we all bear. It is time to break these shackles, chains and since they did not allow us to do it via the ballot box, the judiciary must be held accountable so that they will do what is right with their oath of office, as officers of both the bar and the bench, to do what is right and correct, both in the spirit and the letters of the law. That is my position. I think this is a position that is endorsed by Atiku Abubakar.

Why did PDP chieftains go to sleep immediately after the elections? Until recently, nobody knew what was going on with the party’s legal approach?

For a long while, for about three weeks, some of us who were not career politicians kept wondering what was going on. Assume that Pedro’s voice is the voice of the Wazirin Adamawa, Atiku Abubakar. He is a man of peace. He asked me a question that shut me down. He asked me, Pedro, you want me to start shouting now and you let these people come out with their guns and kill innocent Nigerians? That shut me down a little but it will not stop us from doing what is right because the freedom of a people is based on the blood of martyrs. People must stand in the gap. Since the court processes will soon commence, I am crying now on behalf Of Atiku Abubakar that this is the position. We have a 223 paged petition on the tables of the election petition tribunal, which is also circulating for the benefit of every Nigerian.

We want to at the end of the day, look at the INEC figures that the commission itself put out. they don’t even tally even close to 60 %. Who advised Mr Yakubu? Who made them make promises to Nigerians that they can’t keep? Who made him agree to declare Mr Bola Tinubu who had less than 18 % of the votes in the FCT? Who has bothered among all of us to ask why is that specific item conjunctive, put in the constitution? Why did the Constitution say clearly that Abuja is not a state but should be treated like a state? The Nigerian constitution states clearly that a state must be defined thus: A state must have a governor. A state must have three senators because that is the point that they create equity. A state must have a House of Assembly So, Abuja cannot be a state because it does not meet any of the tripods that makes a state but in terms of executive…, Abuja is an entity or territory governed by Mr President. It was the same status Lagos had until May 1967 when General Yakubu Gowon announced Lagos as a state. What does that mean? If the President is going to govern a micro Nigeria (Abuja) and he does not have 25 % of a lawful vote cast in Abuja, what right does he have to legislate over our commonwealth when Abuja is no longer a state delineated by its ethnographic or ethnoreligious biases?

Abuja was coagulated from four states-Nasarawa, Kogi, Kaduna and Niger. At the time it was put together, in Akinola Aguda’s report, it was the least populated part of Nigeria and almost geographically centred. If you do not as specifically mentioned in Section 134 (2b) of the constitution and Section 66 of the Electoral Act 2022, you cannot declare or return anybody who did not meet 25 % of the total votes cast in Abuja. For you to do that, you would have turned this nation on its head and that is what Mahmood Yakubu has done. There is nothing more treasonable, more felonious. Outside this election tribunal, Mr Yakubu who already knew that he was walking on the path of funtios officio when he declared to Dino Melaye, the Labour Party and others, “You can go to court,” it means he has already premediated the outcome and he understood the import of his treasonable act. For declaring Tinubu, Yakubu must be made to face criminal charges of committing treason against the collective will of the Nigerian people. What he has done is akin to coup de’ tat. The people have chosen but in spite of that choice, Yakubu declared a man with 18. 99 % of the total vote cast in Abuja which is almost 7 % short of the requisite 25 %.

You earlier stated that previous presidential elections were not upturned by the tribunals. Are you suggesting that there is no hope in the current judiciary to dispense justice?

I will give three instances, the first being the national elections of 1963 that led to Fani Kayode (Father of FFK) declaring that although Action Group won the election of Awolowo, it was the Democratic Alliance of S.L Akintola that will form the government. People went on the streets and for almost two years, people were burnt, Nigeria was scattered and that led to the first military coup of January 1966.
We also had that of 1979 and the monumental 2/3 of 19 states where one entity was being balkanized into three. The third one was in 2007-the epic battle between Shehu Umaru Yar’ Adua and Muhammadu Buhari (incumbent President). It is of note that of all the 7 judges in that last one, the 7 justices of the Supreme Court, 4 of them voted that the election should be upheld. But in their judgment, they noted substantial non-compliant with the tenets and provisions of the Electoral Act. However, 3 of them, mainly Justice Walter Onnoghen, Justice Oguntade and Alouma Mukhtar wrote clearly that it was an election that needed to be re-run; that it was an election that did not meet the basic. Yar’Adua on the assumption of office sets up the Uwais Committee and agreed that the election that brought him to the office was monumentally flawed. All these elections I have cited paled in significance and enormity of rigging with the dastardly act that took place between the night of February 25th and when Mr Mahmood Yakubu in a Yahoo way, declared a man who did not win the election, the winner.

I truly believe that the Justices of the Supreme Court are in a position to rescue Nigeria and place us on a judicial map and not merely on an electoral map. I truly believe that they will heed the cry of this nation and not endorse a devilish act. We do not deserve to be sentenced to a rule by Mr Tinubu when he did not meet the basic requirement to be President. I truly feel that the pulse of the nation is being felt by the Justices of both the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court and they will allow their best sense of judgement, as men who have agreed to be blindfolded while holding the scale of justice and the sword of justice on the right and the left hands. They will do what is right so as to keep this nation in cosmic balance. I believe truly that there is always history being made. With the declaration, Mahmood Yakubu has made history; so also, I believe that the upturning would be a judicial and electoral history in the governance of this country. History is about to be made and it is right that we place in the public court, that the first-line victim of this monumental theft is Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the PDP.

There is this argument that the PDP’s failure to keep the likes of Peter Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso was its greatest undoing. Do you agree?

This is a very serious question but I will put it in context. I am not here to do a post-mortem of what led or happenings in the pre-election days. Obi did not leave PDP because of bickering with the party. Obi left four days before the primaries on the 24th of May, 2022, based on his inability to get his primary constituency in Anambra state to endorse him. That is in the public domain. It was Obi who described Atiku as the unifier. So, it was not a bickering between Obi, PDP and Atiku.

In spite of all this, we are looking at the results announced as against the results collated in real-time across the over 176, 000 Polling Units. All the 51, 602 cancelled, altered or mutilated results which constitute close to 35 per cent of the total votes cast in all the states that you can type into the Irev now and view, where people’s photographs, their bedrooms or toilets were being uploaded had nothing to do with matters prior to the election. Results collated by BVAS and as displayed now by IREV showed clearly that Atiku Abubakar was the first to pass the post. He had the highest number of vote cast which means that if there was no Peter Obi leaving and no quarrel in the PDP, it would have been an electoral tsunami. In the elections held on February 25, the First Respondent (INEC) did not do good to the great people of this country. By announcing the second and third respondents-Mr Tinubu and the APC as winners of this election. That is the fulcrum.