The presidential candidate of the People Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, has said that he would challenge Saturday’s presidential election result in court.
Mr Abubakar, at a news conference on Thursday in Abuja, said the decision was not about himself but for the democracy of Nigeria.
“The weekend election was neither free nor fair. Preliminary assessments indicate that it is the worst conducted elections since the return to democratic rule.
“The manipulation and fraud that attended this election are unprecedented in the history of our nation.
“I can still not understand why the electoral umpire was in such a hurry to conclude collation and announcement of the result, given the number of complaints of irregularities.
“Irregularities of bypassing of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS), failure of uploading to the IREV, unprecedented cancellations and disenfranchisement of millions of voters in breach of the Electoral Act and the commission’s own guidelines. It was indeed a rape of democracy,” Mr Abubakar said.
He said having consulted with leaders of PDP and Nigerians from different walks of life, he came to the conclusion that the processes and outcome of the Presidential and National Assembly election was grossly flawed, and must be challenged.
Mr Abubakar said these had been attested to by both local and international observers.
He said that he believed that was not the legacy President Muhammadu Buhari had promised, and not too late for him to make amends, for the good of the country and the future generations, as well to assure his legacy.
“This battle to right the wrongs of Saturday is not about me. It is a continuation of my battles to deepen democracy, and for a better life for our people. It is about the future of Nigerian youths.
“I know that Nigerians, especially the youth, are traumatised by the developments, but I want to urge them to conduct themselves peacefully.
“Like I have done over the years, I assure you that I will commit the rest of my life in ensuring that true democracy, which affirms the supremacy of your votes and your will, will take firm footing and guarantee a stable, prosperous and peaceful Nigeria.
“This is more so as Nigeria represents the hope of Africa and the Black World,” he said.
Mr Abubakar expressed the hope that the judiciary would redeem itself this time around, and rise to the society’s expectation as the last hope.
He said in the end, who wins is not as important as the credibility of Nigeria elections and electoral processes.
He said that the 2023 presidential election, presented the nation and its people the greatest opportunity for a reset.
“We had everything going for us: a legal framework in the 2022 Electoral Act and the BVAS technology.
“The enthusiasm of Nigerians to turn out and in large numbers was an added bonus.
“However, the dreams and aspirations of Nigerians who braced all the challenges to go and cast their votes on Saturday, Feb. 25, were shattered by the conduct of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which failed to live up to expectations.
“I call on all men and women of goodwill to join hands with us in the vanguard to defend our constitution from the brigandage of anti-democratic forces.
“Finally I urge Nigerians to remain vigilant and resolute. You have the constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom to choose your leaders. We will not sit idly by and watch your rights taken from you,” the PDP candidate said.
Fielding questions from journalists on whether he would contest the entire election or some states, Mr Abubakar said the party’s lawyers were already working on that, and the party would act on their advice.
On his confidence that he would get justice in court, Mr Abubakar said he had taken sitting presidents to court 11 times, adding that if he cannot get justice in court he would hand over everything to God.
Mr Abubakar also said he was not aware of any reconciliation members from the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, trying to reach him, not to talk of denying them access to him.
On whether he regretted not working with Peter Obi of Labour Party, Mr Abubakar said he believed Mr Obi left PDP in a hurry as he would have been his running mate.
“Yes, it is a fact, he took our votes from the South East and South South, but that of course will not make him president.
“We all know that to be president in this country, you need to get votes from everywhere.
“So, as far as I am concerned, Peter is welcomed to dialogue with PDP. We are ready to dialogue with him, so I don’t think we will have any problem with him, if he wants to dialogue with PDP, form alliance,” he said.