Atiku bonafide Nigerian, witness tells Tribunal

Witnesses of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23, 2019 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, continued their evidence on Tuesday, saying that Atiku is a bonafide Nigerian citizen

Atiku and his party, PDP are challenging the declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the effect that President Muhammadu Buhari won the February 23 presidential election on grounds of gross violation of Electoral Act.

Leading the team of the witnesses at the resumed hearing of the petition yesterday, a retired career diplomat, Ambassador Mabien Zamaki told the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal that Atiku was a bonafide Nigerian by birth and nationality and was therefore legally qualified for the presidential poll.

The ambassador, in his evidence, said Atiku was born on November 25, 1946, at Jada in the northern part of Nigeria.

Led in evidence by Atiku’s counsel, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), the retired career diplomat informed the tribunal that Atiku’s record in his former secondary School was not confidential and can be accessed by anybody doubting the nationality of the PDP presidential candidate.

The witness, who claimed to have retired from active service in 2006, admitted that he saw the record from the custodian of the record in their secondary school and that the record are still there for anybody to cross-check.

Zamaki further told the tribunal that he has a fair knowledge of the history of Nigeria as it relates to Jada in Adamawa and insisted that in 1946 when Atiku was born, Jada was part and parcel of Northern Nigeria and not part of Cameroon as suggested by the APC’s counsel.

He vehemently denied that any part of Northern Nigeria including Jada was ever ceded to Cameroon.

Under cross-examination by INEC lawyer, the witness confessed that he was not at the point where Atiku was born.

Another witness, Mohammed Kabir Hayatu, a retired Customs Officer, corroborated the Nigerian nationality of the former vice president.

Hayatu, who was also led in his evidence in Chief by Atiku’s lawyer told the tribunal that he came in contact with Atiku’s record in the Nigerian Customs Service where Atiku retired as a senior Customs Officer.

Under cross-examination, Hayatu said that Adamawa was part of Northern Nigeria and that Jada fell on the part of Nigeria and not Northern Cameroon.

As at the time of this report five witnesses comprising Mabien Zamaki, Mohammed Hayatu, Likita Alli, Temago Sunday Anyamaga and Abubakar Sadiq Abdullahi from Adamawa and Nasarawa states had testified for the petitioners.

Another witness for the petitioners, Peter Alli in his evidence, alleged that an official of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Abubakar Kaura was found with a whopping sum of $10,000 on the day of the election.

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Ali who said he was the ward collation officer also alleged that the $10,000 was a bribe for the INEC officer to manipulate the outcome of the election results in the area of Nasarawa State.

Under cross-examination by INEC counsel, Yunus Usman, (SAN), Ali admitted he reported the matter to the police which he claimed was later transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Bureau for further investigation.

When asked if he knew whether anyone was charged for the said allegation, he affirmed he did not know and, even added that he doesn’t have any report concerning the outcome of the investigation.

Also, the INEC counsel asked him if he signed form EC88 under duress but he, in his response said he signed it voluntarily mainly because his party won in the ward.

Further, Ali said the allegation he declared before the tribunal was not hearsay evidence but claimed he went on a tip-off to personally witness the alleged $10,000 found in the custody of the INEC officer.

The witness also asserted that out of the 24 units in the ward, he was only able to receive results of 23 units excluding the unit where the allegation was allegedly perpetrated.

Earlier, President Buhari had presented a video at the tribunal showing the chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu on February 6 in an interview on Channels Television explained the challenges likely to be faced ahead of the election in the area of communication and transmission of election results.

The video clip was thereafter admitted in evidence with an objection to be raised later by the petitioners at the address stage.

Also testifying Sunday John said armed men later identified as APC agents struck at a polling unit in Karu local government and scattered the election materials and damaged the smart card reader deployed for the election.

He said as a result of the violent attack, the election could not hold at the polling unit.

Another witness, Harry Gunde also in Karu local government of Nasarawa State, alleged falsification and alteration of election results at the council which according to him, was carried out at the Collation centre and that it was reported to security personnel but no action was taken.

Others who also testified for the two petitioners, are Mohammed Opaluwa, who alleged massive thumb printing of ballot papers for APC and Jonathan Nasara, a former counsellor, who also alleged that election figures were allotted by APC agents and security personnel to parties in the election.

At the end of cross-examination of the 49th petitioner’s witness, the tribunal adjourned to Wednesday, July 17 for the continuation of hearing.