Academically, I better Atiku -Buhari

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*Buhari, Atiku

Ime Akpan

President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Atiku Abubakar to produce his academic qualifications indicating the schools he attended with dates before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.

The president who threw the challenge in a counter-accusation presentation at the tribunal hearing in Abuja yesterday stated that he possessed more than the constitutionally required educational qualifications to contest the election.

It would be recalled that the Independent National Electoral Commission had declared Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), winner of the February 23 presidential election.

But Atiku and the PDP filed a petition before the tribunal seeking an order nullifying the victory and another order declaring them (Atiku and PDP) as the true winner of the poll.

Atiku, in his petition said based on figures collated from the PDP agents in all the polling units, ward collation centres, local government area collation centres, and the state collation centres, in all the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory as well as at the national collation centre, he scored a total votes of 18,356,732 as opposed to Buhari’s 16,741,530.

He said the figures, which are available in the server of INEC were at variance with those declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) umpire, which credited him with 11,262,430 votes, while Buhari got 15,191,847 to emerge the winner.

They also alleged in their petitions that that Buhari gave false information about his school certificate in the Form CF001, which he submitted to INEC as well as the fact that the president does not possess secondary school certificate he laid claim to in the form.

But in a documented reply filed by his counsel, Mr. Wole Olanipekun, the president said: “The respondent avers that he is far more qualified, both constitutionally and educationally, to contest and occupy the office of president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria than the 1st petitioner (Atiku); and that, in terms of educational qualifications, trainings and courses attended, within and outside Nigeria, he is head and shoulder above the 1st petitioner in terms of acquisition of knowledge, certificates, laurels, medals and experience.

“Respondent states further that it is the first petitioner, who is not qualified to contest the office of president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and challenges the educational credentials and certificates of the first petitioner. First petitioner is, hereby, given notice to produce and tender his educational certificates, indicating the schools attended by him, with dates.”

The president’s resume, according to the document, reads in part:

“Elementary School Daura and Maid’adua – 1948 to 1952;

“Middle School, Katsina – 1953 to 1956;

“Katsina Provincial Secondary School (now Daura Government College, Katsina) – 1956 to 1961.”

It added: “He (Buhari) did not, at any time, provide any false information in the Form CF001 submitted to the 1st respondent, either in 2014 or 2018.

“The affidavit of compliance to the 2019 Form CF001 was correct in every material particular.

“In filling Form CF001 in 2014 and 2019, the respondent was not oblivious of the constitutional qualifications stipulated in Section 131 of the Constitution and interpreted in Section 318 of the same Constitution.

“Petitioners themselves are also not oblivious of the fact that the respondent possesses far more than the constitutional threshold expected of a candidate contesting for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Buhari equally faulted the entire petition filed by the PDP and Atiku and noted that they are more about pre-election issues, which the Court of Appeal, sitting as a tribunal, lacked jurisdiction.

He also argued that the petitioners told lies against themselves in the petition and made conflicting claims which the tribunal cannot grant.

For instance, Buhari noted that while the petitioners claimed to have won the last presidential election and also won elections in many states in the south-south and south-east, they also urged the court to nullify the election and order a fresh presidential election.

Buhari argued that by virtue of section of 137 of the Electoral Act, petitioners cannot question the results of elections in states where they claim to have won and still retain themselves as petitioners.

He asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition on the grounds that the reliefs sought by the petitioners are frivolous.

“The entire reliefs are not justifiable as the petitioners, who claim to have scored majority of lawful votes in substantial number of states, are also questioning their own return in those states.

“The petitioners cannot act as petitioners and respondents in the same petition,” he said.

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