Presidential Election Petition: Atiku, PDP Resuscitate Alleged Certificate Scam against Buhari

Details of the petition filed on Monday by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate in the February 23 election, Atiku Abubakar, to challenge the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) were revealed Tuesday.

One of the allegations from the 141-page petition containing five major grounds, according to PUNCH, is that President Buhari was not qualified to run for the office of the President on the grounds that he did not possess the constitutional minimum qualification of a school certificate.

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The petition, filed on Monday, is against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Buhari and the APC as the first to the third respondents, respectively.

The five grounds of appeal read, “The 2nd respondent (Buhari) was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election. The election of the 2nd respondent is invalid by reason of corrupt practices.

“The election of the 2nd Respondent is invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended). The 2nd respondent was at the time of the election not qualified to contest the said election.

“The 2nd respondent submitted to the 1st Respondent an affidavit containing false information of a fundamental nature in aid of his qualification for the said election.”

Conversations and, indeed, controversy about President Buhari’s educational qualification are not new. They were a major issue during the 2015 and 2019 elections. There had been controversy over whether or not he wrote the O’Level exam having claimed in his affidavit to the INEC that his original credentials were with the military. However, Iyi Uwadiae, the WAEC registrar, presented an attestation certificate and confirmation of school certificate result to President Muhammadu Buhari on November 2, 2018, which still did not convinced the opposition PDP.

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Meanwhile, a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has thumbed down the 2019 presidential election in the country, describing the election as bad news for democracy and feared that its outcome could affect other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, given Nigeria’s influence in the region.

In a 701-word election post-mortem for the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC, Campbell also said that the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar may not win at the tribunal because “Buhari’s margin of victory, some four million votes is so large that it is unlikely courts will overturn the result.”

Campbell, who also served as US Department of State foreign service officer from 1975 to 2007, said the election was “marred by historically low turnout and credible allegations of rigging,” adding that from Situation Room’s report, the election fell below the 2015 presidential election standards.

The article read in part: “Nigeria’s latest presidential election cycle has been bad news for democracy in Africa’s most populous country and across the continent. Though President Buhari won the election, it was marred by historically low turnout and credible allegations of rigging.

“Buhari and his main challenger, former Vice President Abubakar, both Muslims from the Fulani ethnic group in the country’s North, are part of the political class that has dominated Nigeria since independence in 1960. Their contest meant there would be no generational leadership change in a country where the average age is 18 and half of registered voters are under 35.

“Buhari and Abubakar are the standard-bearers for two political parties descended from the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida: the APC and PDP, respectively. Both parties are undemocratic in spirit and function primarily to contest elections rather than to promote legislation or policy. During their campaigns, the candidates and their parties offered little that was new to address security breakdowns caused by Boko Haram in the country’s Northeast; conflict over land use, ethnicity, and religion in the Middle Belt; and the division of oil revenue in the Delta.

“Moreover, they were mute on climate change, urbanization, and a population boom that is expected to push Nigeria past 450 million people by the middle of the century.

“The Situation Room, an umbrella organisation of Nigerian civil society groups, wrote that the vote marked “a step back from the 2015 general election and actions should be taken to identify what has gone wrong and what can be corrected.

“Nigeria’s influence across sub-Saharan Africa is out-sized. Its population and economy are Africa’s largest; its cultural influence, symbolized by the Nollywood film industry, is far-reaching; and its traditional diplomatic activism, through participation in peace-keeping missions and the regional economic bloc ECOWAS, is consequential.

“When Nigeria transitioned from military to civilian rule in 1999, the effects on West Africa were palpable: coups lost their legitimacy, and the region has pursued a positive democratic trajectory ever since. But the latest presidential election is far from an example for those African countries consolidating their democracies or emerging from quasi-authoritarian regimes to emulate.”

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