•Adds: Evidence coming from statisticians, fingerprint experts, forensic examiners
•Credible allegations of rigging marred Nigeria’s polls, says Campbell, ex-US envoy
•President’s spokesman, Adesina, declines comment
By Clifford Ndujihe & Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, has told the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had at various stages of the February 23 presidential election, unlawfully allocated votes to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Atiku in the petition he lodged before the petition tribunal sitting in Abuja, said he would adduce oral and documentary evidence to show that results of the election as announced by INEC, especially the votes credited to President Buhari, did not represent the lawful valid votes cast.
He alleged that in some states, INEC, deducted lawful votes that accrued to him, in its bid to ensure that Buhari was returned back to office.
Both Atiku and the PDP said they would call evidence of statisticians, forensic examiners and finger-print experts at the hearing of the petition to establish that the scores credited to Buhari were not the product of actual votes validly cast at the polling units.
Atiku and PDP are the petitioners, while INEC, Buhari and All Progressives Congress, APC, are respondents in the petition.
Nigeria’s elections, bad news for democracy — ex-US envoy
Meanwile, a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has thumbed down the 2019 presidential election in the country, describing the election as bad news for democracy and feared that its outcome could affect other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, given Nigeria’s influence in the region.
In a 701-word election post-mortem for the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC, Campbell also said that the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar may not win at the tribunal because “Buhari’s margin of victory, some four million votes is so large that it is unlikely courts will overturn the result.”
Presidency declines comment
Contacted over Mr Campbell’s remarks, President Buhari’s spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina declined comments.
“I can’t comment now because I have not seen the article,” he said.
Atiku, PDP’s petition
“The petitioners plead and shall rely on electronic video recordings, newspaper reports, photographs and photographic images of several infractions of the electoral process by the respondents,” they added.
Specifically, the petitioners serialised results recorded from each state of the federation in order to prove that the alleged fraudulent allocation of votes to Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC, took place at the polling units, the ward collating centres, local government collating centres and the state collating centres.
Atiku contended that proper collation and summation of the presidential election results would show that contrary to what INEC declared, he garnered a total of 18,356,732 votes, ahead of Buhari who he said got a total of 16,741,430 votes.
“The petitioners shall rely on the evidence of statisticians, forensic examiners and other experts, detailing the data analysis on the votes at all levels of collation, from the polling units to the final return.
“The petitioners state that Smart Card Readers deployed by the 1st respondent, in addition to accreditation, equally transmitted electronically the results of voting from polling units directly to the server of the 1st respondent. The Presiding Officers of the 1st respondent directly inputted the results from the polling units at the end of voting and transmitted directly to the server, in addition to manually taking the Form EC8As to the Wards for collation. The 1st respondent is hereby given notice to produce the records of results from each polling unit uploaded and transmitted electronically by officials of the 1st respondent through smart card readers to the 1st respondent’s servers.
“The petitioners plead and rely on the 1st respondent’s Manual Technologies 2019, and notice is hereby given to the 1st Respondent to produce same at the trial. The 1st Respondent’s agents at the polling units used the Smart Card Reader for electronic collation and transmission of results. The Petitioners plead and shall rely on and play at the trial, the video demonstration by the 1st Respondent of the deployment of Smart Card Reader for authentication of accreditation and for transmission of data.
“The petitioners hereby plead and rely upon the extract of data as contained on the 1st Respondent’s servers as at 25th February 2019, notice to produce whereof is hereby given to the 1st Respondent. The Petitioners also will rely on the data on the 1st Respondent’s central server between 25th February 2019 and 8th March 2019 and hereby also give notice to produce same before this Honourable Court.
“The petitioners hereby plead the electronic data on the servers of the 1st respondent and shall at the trial give evidence of the source of the data analysis and data material, including the website: www.factsdontlieng.com.
“The 1st respondent had on the day of election published the total number of registered voters in the entire country as 84,004,084. Subsequently, the same 1st respondent published a different figure of 82,344,107 as registered voters, leading to an unexplained difference of 1,659,977 registered voters. The 1st Respondent equally published the number of permanent voter’s cards (PVC) collected for the purpose of the presidential election as 72,775,502.
“The petitioners state that whereas the actual number of voters accredited at the election was 35,098,162, the 1st respondent wrongly suppressed and/or reduced the number of accredited voters to 29,394,209 to the detriment of the petitioners.
“The 1st respondent had by its Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, 2019 made pursuant to the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) provided for the mandatory use of card readers for the said election. The 1st respondent by its press release on smart card readers issued in February 2019 and signed by its National Commissioner, Festus Okoye, emphasised and reiterated that “The use of the Smart Card Reader is not only mandatory but its deliberate non-use attracts the sanction of possible prosecution of erring officials in accordance with the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of elections.
“This is in addition to the voiding of any result emanating from such units or areas as was done in the Presidential and National Assembly elections of February 23, 2019.” By this stated position of the 1st respondent, all accreditation not done by smart card reader in the presidential election was and remain void.
“The petitioners state and contend that the 2nd respondent was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election; and that from the data on each State of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, in the 1str respondent’s server, the 1st petitioner, as opposed to the 2nd respondent, scored majority of lawful votes cast at the election.
“Wherefore, the petitioners pray jointly and severally against the respondents as follows:-
“That it may be determined that the 2nd Respondent (Buhari) was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast in the said election and therefore the declaration and return of the 2nd Respondent by the 1st Respondent as the President of Nigeria is unlawful, undue, null, void and of no effect.
“That it may be determined that the 1st petitioner (Atiku) was duly and validly elected and ought to be returned as President of Nigeria, having polled the highest number of lawful votes cast at the election to the office of the President of Nigeria held on 23rd February 2019 and having satisfied the constitutional requirements for the said election.
“An order directing the 1st respondent to issue Certificate of Return to the 1st petitioner as the duly elected President of Nigeria.
“That it may be determined that the 2nd respondent was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the said election.
“That it may be determined that the 2nd Respondent submitted to the commission affidavit containing false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the said election.”
In the alternative, he prayed: “That the election to the office of the President of Nigeria held on February 23, 2019 be nullified and a fresh election ordered.”
Credible allegations of rigging marred Nigeria’s polls — Campbell
Campbell, who also served as US Department of State foreign service officer from 1975 to 2007, said the election was “marred by historically low turnout and credible allegations of rigging,” adding that from Situation Room’s report, the election fell below the 2015 presidential election standards.
The article read in part: “Nigeria’s latest presidential election cycle has been bad news for democracy in Africa’s most populous country and across the continent. Though President Buhari won the election, it was marred by historically low turnout and credible allegations of rigging.
“Buhari and his main challenger, former Vice President Abubakar, both Muslims from the Fulani ethnic group in the country’s North, are part of the political class that has dominated Nigeria since independence in 1960. Their contest meant there would be no generational leadership change in a country where the average age is 18 and half of registered voters are under 35.
“Buhari and Abubakar are the standard-bearers for two political parties descended from the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida: the APC and PDP, respectively. Both parties are undemocratic in spirit and function primarily to contest elections rather than to promote legislation or policy. During their campaigns, the candidates and their parties offered little that was new to address security breakdowns caused by Boko Haram in the country’s Northeast; conflict over land use, ethnicity, and religion in the Middle Belt; and the division of oil revenue in the Delta. Moreover, they were mute on climate change, urbanization, and a population boom that is expected to push Nigeria past 450 million people by the middle of the century.
“The Situation Room, an umbrella organisation of Nigerian civil society groups, wrote that the vote marked “a step back from the 2015 general election and actions should be taken to identify what has gone wrong and what can be corrected.
“Nigeria’s influence across sub-Saharan Africa is out-sized. Its population and economy are Africa’s largest; its cultural influence, symbolized by the Nollywood film industry, is far-reaching; and its traditional diplomatic activism, through participation in peace-keeping missions and the regional economic bloc ECOWAS, is consequential.
“When Nigeria transitioned from military to civilian rule in 1999, the effects on West Africa were palpable: coups lost their legitimacy, and the region has pursued a positive democratic trajectory ever since. But the latest presidential election is far from an example for those African countries consolidating their democracies or emerging from quasi-authoritarian regimes to emulate.”