The ruling of the Presidential Elections Petition Tribunal today, affirming the election of President Muhammadu Buhari and striking out the petition against the election by the defeated PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar was largely expected by Nigerians who have been shocked by the hollowness and abject void in the petition.
In fact, the way and manner the panel of judges went about to trash Atiku’s case vindicated the widely shared opinion promoted by the cerebral lawyer, rights activist and present Minister of State for Niger Delta, Festus Keyamo that Atiku’s petition is the most useless election petition in the history of the country.
The interesting judgment would have been more damning if they had the license to express their frustration that Atiku wasted the time of the tribunal and those of Nigerians in the guise of challenging the electoral verdict Nigerians emphatically handed on February 22. Today’s judgment is a fitting end to the ill-fated fortune-hunting by Atiku and his political soulmates in the Nigerian electoral orbit.
Immediately after he was defeated in what was certainly one of Nigeria’s most transparent elections, Atiku went on a binge of allegations that he was rigged out of an election where he was beaten right in his polling unit. He went to town with loud and noisome allegations of being robbed of a mandate which he neither merits nor had.
He launched into an extensive project of resetting the very narrative Nigerians enacted in that election and claimed that he was robbed. He made extensive efforts to rubbish the conduct of the election and to paint the election black in his desperate effort to show that he won the election. He went about thumping and threatening to reclaim his so-called mandate albeit many saw it as a way Atiku was trying to mitigate the colossal loss he, the PDP and a wide array of loud principalities that claimed to hold the country’s politics by the jugular and who fell out with Buhari because of his scorched earth approach to the national treasury, suffered in that election.
Even as many taunted him to give details of his claimed mandate, Atiku and his supporters made no effort to do so. Rather, they elevated their threat of going to court and retrieving their mandate to the
substance of their effort. If they meant to provoke tension amongst Buhari and his supporters, they failed woefully as the later taunted them to do their worst. It got to a stage where even some of his party
members, scandalized by the magnitude of the defeat he suffered, advised him against indulging in such effortless tom-foolery as initiating a legal challenge to an election he lost so miserably.
But to all intents, Atiku and his cheerleaders meant going to court as an omnibus that will serve the multi-faceted role of mitigating their sense of disgrace, force Buhari to panic, force a conciliatory reach out from Buhari and ensure he firms up his grip on the structures of his PDP for future election purposes.
On almost all these counts, he failed as Buhari snubbed him, Buhari’s supporters taunted him to no end and he did little to wipe out the ensuing disgrace that followed his woeful electoral outing after his loud boasts and those of the cachet of supports he got from compromised, disgruntled political interests leading to the election.
Every stage of Atiku’s going to court was celebrated as if they were the real victories themselves. He announced and re-announced his threat of going to court. He celebrated his readiness to go to court. He made a dance of his lawyers preparing to go to court.
He called out a holiday of his lawyers instituting a petition against Buhari and in a similar fashion, choreographed every stage of the tribunal process for his famished supporters eager for a lifeline after the disgraceful shellacking of February 2019.
Then, Atiku went to court and gradually, the court process gathered steam and soon after that, Atiku was exposed to look like a crooked scammer that wanted to scam victory from excruciating defeat. His outing and those of his witnesses at the tribunal were disgraceful at best. Atiku clung to two very leaky and collapsible grounds at the tribunals.
These were: that a certain INEC server exists somewhere that proclaimed him victor over Buhari in the election and that Buhari who had ruled Nigeria both as a civilian and military ruler is not academically qualified to lead the country. It was certain that Atiku knew the silliness and hollowness of the two pillars he rested on but like a professional con man, he is alleged to be, hoped that by some stroke of negative arts, he will snatch victory from defeat.
The INEC server jeremiad is particularly silly. To go to the public with a pathetic story that a certain server known to him and his supporters only exists is not only crazy but miserable. Fact is that Atiku and his henchmen banked heavily on falsifying their ways to power through hacking supposed electronic results of the election. For this reason, then-Senate President and Atiku’s campaign director, Bukola Saraki, hurried the last Senate to pass a revised version of the Electoral Law as that election was around the corner.
The key provision on this amended electoral law was that INEC should transmit the results of the 2010 elections electronically. Knowing their wily ways, President Buhari withheld assent to the amended law and that was technically the death of that plan to hack electronic results to favour Atiku.
But because they invested heavily in this ploy in their ill-fatted Dubai Strategy, Atiku and his supporters were so devastated by President Buhari’s refusal of assent to the bill but they had no fallbacks as the elections closed in.
To invent a spurious, laughable and specious charge that INEC transmitted the results of the election through an INEC server known to Atiku and his supporters alone showed that ab initio, Atiku’s petition was hinged on bubbles and cannot survive elementary scrutiny. But then, that remained the main plank on which Atiku rested his hopeless case and there was no way the case would have progressed without Atiku and his henchmen making a fool of themselves insisting on a non-available INEC server.
Again, the issue of President Buhari’s certificate is beaten trash that cannot fly no matter how it is pushed. It is a product of acute desperation and stems from an obdurate belief that somehow, something could be eked out of nothing. President Buhari has ruled this country before as a military ruler and had headed several critical institutions and none has called his credential to question.
Most important, President Buhari had contested 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections without questions raised about his credentials. It was only when the PDP sensed defeat by the same Buhari in the run-up to the 2015 election that they cooked up the laughable charge to besmirch and arrest his potential victory in the election. He proffered redoubtable evidence to stand for the election and to vanquish the PDP but because the party is desperately in need of straws for its dwindling fortunes, it had hung unto the non-issue like a life machine even when various incontrovertible facts have been adduced to show Buhari’s educational pedigree.
That this will form another leg of Atiku’s woeful petition clearly indicated that Atiku merely went to the tribunal to engage in wild window-shopping.
But then, the showing of Atiku and his witnesses at the tribunal were shameful. All were a cocktail of fairy tales with no shred of evidence and no proof. Strange enough, Atiku went to the byways and the highways to buy very cheap and weightless witnesses that merely ridiculed themselves and his case with the outlandish banalities they advanced at the tribunal to buoy Atiku’s case.
Preliminary cross-examination showed Atiku’s witnesses to be of no value either to his wild claim of being robbed of a mandate he never had in the first instance or having any electoral chances in an election he and his henchmen were beaten down to their polling units. In fact, what Atiku and his witnesses did at the tribunal were massive parody that invoked gargantuan comedy on the national scale as it lasted.
Curiously, Atiku neither allowed himself or his ley backers to come and tell the tribunal how they were rigged out in their respective polling booths where they lost miserably and he and his witnesses did nothing to provide even the flimsiest evidence to prove their case except prurient and hugely contradictory stories that refuse to add up to anything as they closed their case.
INEC, APC, President Buhari looked at Atiku and co’s drama at the tribunal and concluded there was no need calling any witnesses on obvious nonsense as that would amount to wasting the precious time of Nigerians. In fact, they concluded that Atiku was engaged in the spurious art of testing the water with both feet. They simply made their submission that the tribunal should throw out the useless petition for what it is-a grand waste of time.
In dismissing all grounds of Atiku’s petition, the tribunal took time to meticulously tear the petition asunder and leave it for what it is; a huge expedition in fancy hunting and nothing more. The tribunal fell short of describing the petition as an anti-climax as the petitioners made no efforts to prove any of the grounds for which they were hunting for relief. In intent, purpose, and prosecution, Atiku's petition is a huge joke as it was built on nothing.
The intent was to con something from nothing and the judges took meticulous time to trash out all the details for all to see that Atiku was just filibustering by going to the tribunal. At the end of the day, Atiku’s election petition ended like a tale told by an idiot; full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.