Atiku replies Tinubu, I have no age, drug record controversy.

The Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has taken a swipe at the President-Elect, Bola Tinubu, declaring him as unfit to preside over the affairs of the nation.

Atiku, in a fresh process he filed before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja, admitted that though he had been contesting presidential elections since 1993, he, unlike Tinubu, has “a drug-free record.”

“The 1st petitioner, unlike the 2nd Respondent (Tinubu), has consistently been contesting presidential elections, given the 1st Petitioner’s drug-free record, and has never had controversy surrounding his age, circumstances of his birth, state of origin, gender, educational qualification, health status, working career, and citizenship, all issues bordering on constitutional qualification to contest for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Atiku added in his reply to Tinubu’s preliminary objection to his petition.

It will be recalled that Tinubu had in his reply to a petition seeking to nullify his election, described Atiku as a consistent serial loser that had since 1993 crisscrossed different political parties in search of power.

The President-elect said he would during the hearing of the petition, lead evidence before the court to show how Atiku’s emergence as a candidate in the presidential election held on February 25, led to the “Balkanisation” of the opposition PDP.

According to him: “The 1st petitioner (Atiku) has been consistently contesting and losing successive presidential elections in Nigeria since 1993, whether at the party primary election level or at the general election; including 1993, when he lost the Social Democratic Party, SDP, primary election to the late Chief M.K.O Abiola; 2007, when he lost the presidential election to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua; 2011, when he lost the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP presidential primary election to President Goodluck Jonathan; 2015, when he lost the APC primary election to President Muhammadu Buhari; 2019, when he lost the presidential election to President Muhammadu Buhari; and now, 2023, when he has again, lost the presidential election to the respondent.

“Further to (iv) supra, it was/is not a surprise and/or not by accident that the electorate rejected the 1st petitioner at the polls of the presidential election held on 25th February 2023,” he added.

However, in his response, Atiku, maintained that the President-elect had “demonstrated inconsistency as to his actual date of birth, secondary schools he attended (Government College Ibadan); his State of origin, gender, actual name; certificates evidencing Universities attended (Chicago State University).”

He said: “The purported degree Certificate of the 2nd Respondent allegedly acquired at the Chicago State University did not belong to him but to a female (F) described as “F” in the Certificate bearing the name Bola Tinubu.

“The 2nd Respondent did not disclose to the 1st Respondent (INEC) his voluntary acquisition of the citizenship of the Republic of Guinea with Guinean Passport No. D00001551, in addition to his Nigerian citizenship. The 2nd Respondent is hereby given notice to produce the original copies of his said two passports”.

Besides, Atiku, who came second at the presidential election held on February 25, told the court that Tinubu “has a record of criminal forfeiture of the sum of $460, 000. 00 for the drug-related offence before the United States Judge, John A Nordberg in the 2nd Respondent’s First Heritage Account No. 263226700, being proceeds of narcotics-trafficking in violation of 18 USC 1956 and 1947 for an offence involving narcotics”.

He insisted that the APC candidate did not meet the constitutional threshold and “is constitutionally disabled from contesting for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

Serial election loser

On the claim that he is a serial election loser, Atiku likened himself to President Buhari, who he said had equally contested presidential elections multiple times before he eventually won in 2015.

He urged the court to dismiss Tinubu’s contention that the petition was incompetent by virtue of the failure to join the candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi and that of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, Rabiu Kwankwaso as necessary parties.

Atiku told the court that he does not have any grievance against both Obi or Kwankwaso as they were not returned as the winner of the presidential election by INEC.

Consequently, he prayed the court to dismiss Tinubu’s preliminary objection for being “frivolous, misconceived, face-saving, vexatious, absolutely and completely unfounded.

Atiku rejigs legal team

Meanwhile, VP News learned yesterday that Atiku has rejigged his legal team, with Chief Chris Uche, SAN, taking over from Chief J.K. Gadzama, SAN, as his lead counsel.

He equally filed an application praying the court to kickstart the pre-hearing session of the petition.
“We write to state that pleadings have been duly exchanged and closed between the Petitioners and the Respondents in the petition.

“We, therefore, most humbly apply, pursuant to Paragraph 18(1) and (2) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022, for the issuance of Pre-Hearing Notice in Form TF 007 accompanied by Pre-Hearing Information Sheet in Form TF 008 for the commencement of the Pre-Hearing Conference in this petition accordingly”, Atiku stated in an application signed by his new lead counsel, Uche, SAN.

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