Attorneys for Nigerian President Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua have said opposition Action Congress party (AC) presidential candidate and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar should concede defeat in the April’s presidential elections. This follows the former vice president’s petition to an election tribunal challenging the legitimacy of the election, of which the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Yar’Adua as the winner. The president’s attorneys dismissed the former vice president’s petition as speculative assertions and outright falsehood. They contend that Yar’Adua’s victory is a true reflection of the voting pattern of Nigerians on the day of the election.
From the commercial capital, Lagos, Action Congress party spokesman Lai Mohammed tells reporter Peter Clottey that he is confident the tribunal’s ultimate decision will be in their favor.
“It’s not as if he is actually asking Atiku Abubakar to accept defeat for him to say that April elections were free and fair, and that the elections actually reflected the wishes of the people of Nigeria. That is from the defense. It is for the courts to look at the balance of the evidence and make a pronouncement. Therefore, the statement credited to his defense lawyers really does not go to any issue,” Mohammed pointed out.
He said the AC has ample proof that April’s elections were not free and fair.
“Once again our position is very straight and very clear. We have identified several lapses in the last elections; we have witnesses; we have evidences documentary, video and audio. And I think, yes, we should allow the lawyers to have their day in court. But at the end of the day, the judges would only be swayed by the soundness of the party cases, and the evidence each party is able to profile. And in that respect, we are very confident that we have overwhelming evidence to persuade the tribunal to rule in our favor,” he said.
Mohammed said although the opposition welcomes the president’s expressed interest in having electoral reforms, he is still not a legitimate president, due to irregularities during the polls.
“The very fact that the president has set in motion a panel to undertake electoral reforms, and the fact that he also admitted on various occasions that the elections that brought him to office were marred by largely irregularities is an admission that the elections were far from being free and fair. Our position still remains the same. You cannot build something out of nothing,” Mohammed noted.
He said the president has so far been contradicting himself on the elections and the ensuing problems associated with the vote.
“You cannot on breath admit that the elections that brought you to power were marred by irregularities and at the same time say you are going to take advantage of those irregularities to undertake reforms. It is contradictory,” he said.
Mohammed said the opposition wants electoral reforms before elections legitimately held for any public position.
“We’ve always said that if this government wants anybody to believe it, reforms, electoral reforms must be undertaken before any election, either by-election or local government election, takes place in this country, because until and when those electoral reforms are made for so long would there be electoral malpractices. So, as much as we welcome the president’s initiative, we at the same time call on him to show sincerity of purpose by making sure that no elections are held until those reforms are completed,” Mohammed said.