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Nigeria’s VP Pressured to Drop Election Challenge

In Nigeria, outgoing Vice President Atiku Abubakar is reportedly under increasing pressure not to challenge the election of Umaru Mussa Yar'Adua elected as the country’s next president to succeed President Olusegun Obasanjo. Yar’adua was elected in a vote many have described as flawed. But there has been discussion that election tribunals will soon be called on to adjudicate petitions that are expected to be filed challenging the recent federal and state elections.

Shehu Garba is the spokesman for Vice President Atiku Abubakar. From the capital, Abuja he told VOA that Vice President Abubakar is determined to seek redress in court about the conduct of the presidential elections.

“The vice president has fully resolved that this matter must go to the courts because it is important for the country that the presidential election, which is the only one by law that can go to the Supreme Court be allowed to proceed. So that the Supreme Court can define new standards, if you like benchmarks, for the conduct of elections in this country, otherwise, we will continue to do the same thing all over again,” Garba pointed out.

He said compared to previous elections, both international and local observers have described the recent poll as flawed.

“In fact if you follow the reports of the observers, some of them that have observed past elections in the country, have indicated that every election, that came was better than the one that took place on April eighth. So, we cannot continue to have degenerating elections like people saying we beg to just accept to live with it, you know that rubbish,” he said.

Garba said although Vice President Abubakar does not have the power to stop the president-elect from being sworn in, the court would still decide the legitimacy of the election.

“He (Umaru Mussa Yar'Adua) will be inaugurated alright because we have no power to stop that, but we expect the court to decide that… we believe that only the due process of the law can confer legitimacy on him (Umaru Mussa Yar'Adua). We will go to the court, if the court decides in their wisdom that this election is not valid, it would be nullified and re-elections carried out all over again. But if on the other hand, they decide that he is duly elected, we will have no option, but to live with that,” Garba noted.

He said the vice president has limited options available to him to challenge the conduct of the presidential election.

“The problem is that you have no alternative to the court. We as a party, the Action Congress, have no means, have no plan whatsoever, to call people to confront the regime. We know that they can down whatever arrest that arises, and they can do so brutally and most forcefully. And they don’t mind if a few more lives are lost in that process,” he said.

Garba said the Action Congress party hopes the court would expedite its decision on the conduct of the presidential election.

“We are hopeful that the court process will be much faster this time around. All petitioners are supposed to present whatever evidence they have… they must all put them down on day one, the moment they file the petition. So that perhaps when the case starts, the court would not be destructed by the introduction of new evidences or new witnesses that can cause a delay in hearing of the case,” he said.