By Stephen Ubanna
Hopes of Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to overturn the Independent National Electoral Commission , INEC, February 23, 2019, Presidential election through the Court process, appears to have been dashed.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday , August 12, 2019, finally sealed the hope of Atiku and the PDP, of upturning the Presidential elections result won by President Muhammadu BBuhari of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, in when it struck out his appeal and that of PDP, which sponsored him in the election. The five –man panel appointed by Ibrahin Tanko Muhammed , the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, led by Dattijo Mohammad had described the appeal as ‘’statue barred’’.
Signs that the PDP presidential Candidate has lost the battle emerged when Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor and Chairman, INEC, disobeyed the Appeal Court ruling , that the multi- billionaire business mogul PDP Presidential Candidate should be allowed to inspect the documents and materials used in the election.
Atiku had cried out , describing it as a deliberate plan by the Commission to frustrate the plan by him and the party to file their petition at the Presidential election Tribunal but that was how far he could go. The ruling APC, were out to force Atiku to soft-pedal and withdraw the case from Court. But the apex Court may have given him a fresh hope that he has a good case as the five-man panel on Tuesday , August 20, 2019, heard arguments on an appeal by the hard- fighting Atiku and the party seeking to be allowed access to the INEC server.
Atiku and the PDP were insisting that the results of the February 23, 2019, election which gave Buhari victory were stored in the INEC server, which the Commission does not exist as Collation of results during the election was done manually. The five-man panel which had earlier given Atiku and the PDP hope of looking into their petition later today said’’ there was no basis to interfere with the earlier decision of the Presidential election petition Tribunal rejecting their request to access the INEC serve’’r
. It was a big blow to the Adamawa state born politician who had expected that the case would be in his favour and the party in order to push out the APC from power. He may have to wait for another opportunity in 2023 if the party zones the Presidential slot to the north east or throw the field open to all Contestments to vie for the position no matter the geo-political region. In this case , he he could his financial muscle to clinch the position as he di in 2018.
Note that as a prelude to weaken the PDP Presidential Candidate in order to bow to pressure to withdraw the case from Court, Atiku claimed that Babalele Abdullahi, his son-law, who incidentally was the Finance Director of his Group of Companies was arrested and detained over alleged money , which the Commission put at $140,000, on August 9, 2019.
The Commission had arraigned Abdullahi, in a Federal High Court in Lagos last Thursday on a two count charge of money laundering committed in the February 23, 2019 election for votes buying.
The anti-graft agency plan, according to a party source, was to force Abdullahi to open up on Atiku’s sources of Income in order to nail him but got it wrong. He may have been worried that his son-In law was in EFCC Custody but refused to bow to pressures to withdraw the case from Court and concede victory to the Katsina state born Nigerian President. He was said to have allowed the Commission to do their work by arraigning him in Court to go through the legal process for people to know what Abdullahi, his Director of Finance and son-in law has done. Many believe that the money to mobilise five Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, to facilitate his release from the Commission Custody was not the problem.
It was not surprising why he was very happy that Justice Nicholas Oweibo, of the Lagos Federal High Court, granted bail to him ,last Thursday in the sum of N20 million. Indeed, it was a big relief to him that at long last his Director of Finance and son-In law could breathe the air of freedom again, an indication that there are still Judges who could stand by their decision.
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