By Obio Monday
|Alhaji Atiku Abubakar|
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has faulted the claim by the All Progressives Congress (APC) that he is not a Nigerian by birth and, therefore, not fit to be President.
Atiku, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the February 23 presidential election, said he is a Nigerian by birth and was born on November 25, 1946 in Jada, Adamawa State by Nigerian parents and he is, therefore, a citizen of Nigeria by birth.
He said this in a joint reply he filed with his party to the response filed by the APC against their petition before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) sitting at the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
Atiku, who gave details of his early life, also spoke about his working life and political career in Nigeria to support his claim that he is and has always been a Nigerian by birth.
Atiku and the PDP argued that it was late in the day for the APC to query his qualification for the election, having not done so at the pre-election stage.
They said: “Contrary to the allegations contained in paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the 3rd respondent’s (APC’s) reply, the petitioners state that the 1st petitioner (Atiku) is a citizen of Nigeria by birth and thus qualified to vote and be voted for and returned in the election to the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, held on Saturday 23rd February, 2019, going by the relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“The 1st petitioner was born on 25th November, 1946 in Jada, Adamawa State by Nigerian parents and he is therefore a citizen of Nigeria by birth.
“The 1st petitioner’s father, Garba Atiku Abdulkadir, was a Nigerian by birth who hailed from Wumo in present day Sokoto State while the mother, Aisha Kande was also a Nigerian who hailed from Dutse in present day Jigawa State.
“The parents of the 1st Petitioner are both Fulani, a community/tribe indigenous to Nigeria.
“The birth of the 1st petitioner in Jada, in present day Adamawa State of Nigeria was occasioned by the movement of his paternal grandfather called Atiku who was an itinerant trader, from Wumo in present day Sokoto State to Jada in the company of his friend, Ardo Usman.
“That in Jada, Atiku, the grandfather of the 1st petitioner, gave birth to Garba who in tum gave birth to the 1st Petitioner and named him after his own father Atiku.
“The 1st petitioner’s mother, Aisha Kande, was the grand-daughter of Inuwa Dutse who came to Jada as an itinerant trader too from Dutse in present day Jigawa State.
“All averments concerning Germany, British Cameroons, League of Nations and Plebiscite are false and misleading in relation to the 1st Petitioner and therefore completely irrelevant, more so that the 1st Petitioner is a Nigerian by birth within the contemplation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic ofNigeria, 1999 (as amended).
“The averments in the aforesaid paragraphs are indeed fabricated, contrived, made in bad faith and designed to embarrass the 1st petitioner.”
The APC had, in its response to the petition by Atiku and the PDP, argued that, by virtue of his not being a Nigerian by birth, Atiku was not qualified to have contested the last presidential election.
It contended that by Section 131(a) of the Constitution, a person must be a citizen of Nigeria by birth to be qualified to contest for the office of the President of the country. It noted that Atiku was born on November 25, 1946 in Jada, now Adamawa State, then in Northern Cameroon, “and is therefore a citizen of Cameroon.”
The APC said: ”Atiku had no right to be voted for and returned in the election to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held on Saturday 23th February, 2019 having regard to the clear provision of Section 131(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) 1999 as amended, which unequivocally stipulates inter alia, that for a person to be qualified for election to the office of President, he must be a citizen of Nigeria by birth.”
Atiku and the PDP, in their reply, also faulted the APC’s claim that the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC) did not transmit the results of the election by electronic means, by using a server.
They said: “In reaction to paragraph 29 of the 3rd respondent’s reply, the Petitioners aver that the data and scores in the 1st Respondent’s Server were as transmitted by the 1st Respondent’s officials and those scores are valid, and legitimate.
“The conduct of elections and declaration of results by the 1st respondent is the subject of the present petition.
“Contrary to paragraphs 31 and 34 of the 3rd respondent’s reply, the petitioners contend that the figures and scores in paragraph 22 of the petition are neither false nor contrived or concocted by the petitioners.
“Indeed, the ad-hoc staff and officials of the 1st respondent in obedience to the training/instruction by the 1st respondent (INEC) transmitted the scores they got from the polling units to the 1st respondent’s server.
Atiku and the PDP, in their reply further argued that contrary to contention by the APC, the election tribunal has the jurisdiction to entertain the issues they raised about President Muhammadu Buhari’s educational qualification.
They said: “The issue of the qualification of the 2nd respondent (Buhari) to contest the presidential election under scrutiny, which is at the epicentre of the Petitioners’ grounds (d) and (e) of paragraph 15 of the Petition, is not only a pre-election matter but also a post-election matter within the relevant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) as well as the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and therefore competent and not statute-barred.
“The issue of non-qualification of the 2nd respondent is fundamental and can therefore not be waived as erroneously alleged by the 3rd respondent.”
They added that their petition is competent and meritorious and the return of the 2nd respondent (Buhari) by the 1st respondent (INEC), “is undue and wrongful.”
The petitioners argued that “the 3rd respondent’s reply does not answer the points of substance in the petition but same is full of extraneous facts, contradictory, diversionary, evasive, speculative and vague assertions.”