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I was Atiku’s classmate, he is not from Cameroon, witness tells tribunal

Says I know his mother in Jedda, Adamawa

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

A former Ambassador, Mabien Samadi, on Tuesday, testified before Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, to debunk the allegation that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar is a Cameroonian citizen.

Atiku, Cameroon
Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar

Samadi who said he was a one time ambassador of Nigeria to Romania, said told the tribunal that Atiku was his classmate and childhood friend.

He said they both attended Provisional Secondary School in Yola, Adamawa State, in 1961.

“I know that the 1st petitioner was born on 25 November 1948 in Jada, present-day Adamawa state by Nigerian parents and he is, therefore, a Nigerian by birth”, he added.

It will be recalled that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, had urged the tribunal to dismiss the joint petition that Atiku and PDP lodged to challenge President Buhari’s re-election.

Aside from challenging the legal competence of the petition dated March 18, the APC which is the 3rd respondent, alleged that Atiku was originally a Cameroonian, saying he lacked the locus standi to institute the action against Buhari.

However, fielding questions under cross-examination, the ex-Ambassador told the tribunal that he met Atiku’s mother, Aisha Tande, in 1965, while he was in secondary school.

Asked by counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Yunus Usman, SAN, if he was there when Atiku’s mother gave birth to him, the witness said: “I was not in Jada when she gave birth to Atiku”.

Asked if he has any evidence to support his claim that he was Atiku’s classmate, the witness said: “All I know is based the records that are in the school. It has been there for over 65 years ago”.

He acknowledged that President Buhari had while in position as Military Head of State between 1983 and 1985, made nationwide broadcasts in the English Language.

The witness equally admitted that President Buhari had in 2014, defeated Atiku in the primary election the was conducted by the APC and also won the 2015 presidential election.

Answering questions from President Buhari’s lawyer, Chief Akinolu Olujimi, SAN, the witness who said he had a fair knowledge of Nigeria, said he could not remember if Jada was part of Cameroon as at 1946.

“To the best of my knowledge and what I know, Jada town was in Northern Nigeria in Adamawa Province even before 1946”.

He said he could not remember if prior to 1919, Germany administered Cameroon before it was defeated in the first World War.

Asked if he was aware that Cameroon was subsequently split into French Cameroon and British Cameroon, the witness said: “I have to confirm from history”.

Though he acknowledged that a plebiscite was held in 1961 to determine if Northern Cameroon wanted to align with Nigeria, the witness insisted that Jada was not part of Cameroon.

“I am not aware that Northern Nigeria was part of Northern Cameroon in any history. I was not taught that in school”, he added.

Earlier, the tribunal admitted into evidence a video recording where INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu stressed that the electoral body had challenges regarding a plan to electronically transmit results of the presidential poll.

The video clip which was tendered by President Buhari’s lawyer and viewed in the open court was marked as exhibit P 85, while the Certificate of Compliance was marked as exhibit P-86.

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