PEPT: We lost a battle, not war –Atiku
Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has rejected the judgment of the presidential election petition tribunal (PEPT).
At a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, the former vice president claimed that by the verdict, the party has only lost a battle and not the war and urged his supporters to remain calm, noting that they shall prevail eventually.
The PEPT had, on Wednesday, upheld the declaration of President Bola Tinubu by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as winner of the February 25, presidential poll.
But Atiku explained that his decision to challenge the result of the presidential poll was borne out of his conviction that the court is the sanctuary of justice but said the judgment was bereft of substantial justice.
“I am afraid that the judgment of the court as rendered by the court yesterday (Wednesday) has failed to restore confidence in our dreams of free and fair elections devoid of human manipulations.
“Like I did say at the beginning of this legal battle when I instructed my lawyers to file my petition challenging the outcome of the presidential election, my ultimate goal in this pursuit is to ensure that democracy is further strengthened through the principles and processes of fair hearing.
“I take great pains to tell you that the decision of the court of first instance on this matter utterly falls far short of that expectation.
“I am, therefore, here to tell you that, though the judgment of the court yesterday is respected, it is a judgment that I refuse to accept.
“I refuse to accept the judgment because I believe that it is bereft of substantial justice. However, the disappointment in the verdict of the court can never destroy my confidence in the judiciary.
“Consequently, I have asked my lawyers to activate my constitutionally guaranteed rights of appeal to the higher court, which, in the instance, is the Supreme Court.”
The former vice president said it was his conviction that the electoral process in Nigeria should be devoid of untidy manipulations and that the outcome of every election should be a perfect reflection of the wishes of the electorate.
“I believe that such is the only way through which our democracy can have a manifest expression of its true meaning.
“Whether I prevail in this quest or not, the record of my effort in ensuring an order of credible elections in Nigeria shall remain for the future generations to evaluate.”
Atiku, however, urged all his supporters to remain steadfast and loyal to the PDP.
“I urge them to take solace in an immortal lesson I learned from my leader and mentor, the late Shehu Yar’Adua, that losing a battle is less important than losing the war.
“We might have lost a battle yesterday, but the war is well ahead of us. And I believe that with our hopes in God, we shall win the war of restoring confidence in our electoral system,” he said.
Giving hope to the disappointed members of PDP, Atiku said he was one of the founding members of the party and he believed that the PDP remained a strong party and mother of all political parties.
He said that the members have no reason to lose hope in PDP but remain loyal members of the historic party.
“Why would you not want to be proud to be a member of PDP? There is absolutely no reason.
“I, therefore, want our members to remain loyal, to remain dedicated and to foster national unity,” he said.
Earlier in his speech, the PDP acting National Chairman, Alhaji Umar Damagum, said as a law abiding political party, PDP received the PEPC judgment with shock.
“The judgement of the PEPT which came out yesterday left lovers of democracy in and outside the country, more confused with a lot of questions whether the Nigerian Constitution, Electoral Act and other laws guiding the conduct of credible elections in our country are still functional.
“Close observation from the faces of Nigeria across the country shows hopelessness and despair since the pronouncement of the judgment.
“Lawyers, politicians and other stakeholders from all divides were left confused as both law and facts were visibly thrown overboard,” he said.
Damagum also urged PDP members not to lose focus or be distracted, saying the party National Working Committee (NWC) was working to continue pursuing its mandate, and put the party together to give Nigeria credible opposition.
• I’ll not validate mandate banditry
In a separate statement by his media aide, Atiku dismissed a purported statement congratulating Tinubu as fake news being orchestrated by those desperately looking for validation for the usurpation of the mandate of Nigerians.
He said he would not validate mandate banditry “as it will be tantamount to a rape on the conscience of Nigerians.
“If their conscience is clear and they are convinced that their victory is valid, they don’t have to blackmail their political opponents into congratulating them through fake news.
He stated that “to confirm that the purported message is fake and pedestrian, it was addressed to the ‘President-elect.’ Though we know it is a Pyrrhic victory, is it not ridiculous to still address Bola Tinubu as ‘President-elect’ five months after swearing-in?
“This struggle is not about Atiku; it’s about Nigeria and the future of our democracy. By allowing election riggers to get away with their misdeeds, our democracy will be in greater jeopardy. Consent is essential to democratic mandate; ruling people against their will undermines everything democracy stands for.
“The Waziri has nothing personal against President Tinubu. He owes him no ill will. Let me, however, make it very clear that this struggle is about principle and justice. He is not in this struggle because he hates Tinubu. He is in it to ensure that people who rigged elections are not allowed to get away with it. Injustice and rigging promote bitterness and division. No leader should be proud to lead angry and aggrieved citizens