By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, has flayed the Presidency over its reaction to the ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal that denied his request to inspect the central server the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, supposedly used to transmit results of the February 23 presidential election.
Atiku, who is challenging the outcome of the presidential poll in court, in a statement, yesterday, said it was too early for President Muhammadu Buhari to rejoice.
He maintained that contrary to the praises the Presidency showered on the tribunal, the issue of whether or not there was a central server had yet to be determined.
The PDP’s flag-bearer, who came second in the presidential poll, insisted that the tribunal merely decided that the issue of granting him access to inspect the INEC server was not relevant to the preliminary stages.
Besides, Atiku, in the statement signed by his media aide, Mr. Paul Ibe, said the reaction of the Presidency to the ruling not only vindicated his position that he won the presidential contest, but also that “the administration of Muhammadu Buhari lacks executive temperament and capacity.”
The statement, titled “He Who Laughs Last, Laughs Best,” read: “Our attention has been drawn to a statement from Aso Rock Villa, wherein spokesperson for General Muhammadu Buhari praised the ruling of the Presidential Election Tribunal, which ‘rejected’ the request by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, and the Peoples Democratic Party, to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission to grant access to their server used for the 2019 presidential election.
“After praising the so-called ‘landmark ruling’, the statement went on to claim that ‘the existence of a purported server is being contested and if a purported inspection had been allowed at this stage, it would have amounted to the determination that it indeed existed even when its existence is being contested’.
“Our response is to plead vindication of our case that not only did Atiku Abubakar win the February 23, 2019 elections, but that the administration of General Muhammadu Buhari also lacks executive temperament and capacity as we will now establish.
“Let us educate the spokespersons of General Muhammadu Buhari on what yesterday’s judgment actually says. The request by Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party to inspect the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission was NOT rejected.
“What the honourable Tribunal said is that it is still at preliminary stages and the main case HAS NOT begun and that the matter of granting access to inspect the INEC server is not relevant to the preliminary stages. It is a matter to be adjudicated upon when the case proper is being heard.
“As such, the celebration by the administration of General Buhari that their electoral heist has been covered is premature. Their giddiness has even blinded them to the eye witness testimony given to multiple media in interviews by staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission that there is indeed a server and that they actually submitted results and accreditation through it.
“In their rush to claim a Pyrrhic victory, the General Buhari administration missed out the fact that the 2019 budget has multiple line items for procurement, maintenance and service of the server they claim does not exist.
“Furthermore, the statement tried to spin the recent verdict on the election passed by the EU election observers. For the avoidance of doubt, what the EU report said is that the 2019 elections had SIGNIFICANT defects and fell short of the 2019 elections. It should be noted that one of the issues they raised is the attempt to muzzle not just the media, but more importantly, the judiciary.
“In the light of this, we remind those who are gloating in their ignorance that ‘he who laughs last, laughs best’.
“The last has not been heard of this matter and we eagerly anticipate the ACTUAL ruling of the Tribunal when the case proper begins”.