The Federal Government has said the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has the right to challenge the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 presidential election in court.
It, however, called on the former Vice-President to allow the court to determine the merits or otherwise of his petition against the candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the election.
It said it was wrong for Atiku to resort to self-help in his desire to claim victory in the election.
The government said Atiku should know that losing an election should not be seen as the end of the world.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who stated the government position at a media briefing in Abuja on Thursday, also condemned the resurgence of posters bearing the picture of Atiku, with the inscription: “THE PUKKA, H.E. ATIKU ABUBAKAR, THE REAL AND THE RIGHT,” which have surfaced across major streets in Abuja.
“The appearance of these posters coincide with the media report that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has hired a US lobbying firm to convince the United States not to recognise the re-election of President Buhari until the Supreme Court has ruled on the suit by the PDP presidential candidate,” the minister said.
He said, “Yes, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has lost an election. But he will not be the first or the last person to lose an election, and he should realise that losing an election is not the end of the world.
“He has challenged the result of the election in court. That’s just as well. However, he should not give the impression that he does not have confidence in the judicial process, which his resorting to self-help implies.
“He should stop overheating the polity and quit trying to instigate a political crisis in Nigeria. No citizen, no matter how highly placed, is above the laws of the land. Enough is enough.”
Mohammed, who was flanked at the briefing by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu, said the posters and the alleged hiring of the US lobbyists, had triggered questions about what Alhaji Abubakar was up to.
He said, “Is he starting a fresh campaign after the elections have been won and lost? Has he rescinded his decision to challenge the results of the presidential election in court, perhaps after realising that the results he claimed to have obtained from the INEC server are cooked? Is he now going for self-help? What really is Atiku’s motive?
“We are aware of media reports that the PDP presidential candidate on Wednesday distanced himself from the posters that are circulating in Abuja. He also reportedly denied hiring the US lobbyists, claiming tongue-in-cheek that the APC fabricated the report.
“If the media reports are right, it means that the former Vice-President has suddenly realised the grave implication of his actions, hence has decided to beat a quick retreat before it is too late.
“As a self-avowed democrat, he should realise that the only lawful channel for challenging the result of an election is through the courts. Resorting to self-help, as he seems to be doing now, is an act of desperation and the consequences are dire.
“Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has the right to do whatever is lawful to challenge the outcome of that election. But he cannot get through the back door what he couldn’t get through the front door. That will be a pipe dream.”
Mohammed however said that there was no doubt that Atiku was equally thinking of replicating the Venezuela’s model in the country.
He said, “There is no doubt that the PDP presidential candidate, out of desperation, is thinking of replicating the Venezuelan model right here in Nigeria. But he should realise that Nigeria is not Venezuela, and that the situations in both countries are not the same.
“President Muhammadu Buhari won the February 23, 2019 presidential election fair and square, with a margin of 3,928,869 million votes.The election’s credibility was attested to by local and foreign observers.
However, the National Working Committee of the PDP on Thursday accused the APC and the Presidency of engaging in plots to set up Atiku.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement stated that no amount of fabrications, attempt at set-up as well as veiled and open threats allegedly by the APC-led Federal Government would stop Atiku from reclaiming his mandate at the tribunal.
He said, “The party notes that a series of orchestration against Atiku and the PDP by agents of the Federal Government, officials of the Presidency and the Buhari Media Organisation expose a well-coordinated plot, which includes a resort to unfounded claims of links with a foreign lobby group, to attempt to frame Atiku, cause tension and ultimately derail the recovery of the stolen mandate at the presidential election petitions tribunal.
“Such orchestration is also targeted at instilling fear, causing apprehension in the citizenry and creating opening to further suppress genuine public opinion and the course of justice in the quest by Atiku Abubakar and the PDP to restore the will of the people.”
He added, “Part of the motive is to use lies, fabrications, threats and sponsoring of Atiku campaign posters to portray Atiku Abubakar and the PDP as being desperate and ready to subvert the rules in the pursuit of our mandate; and by so doing discredit our candidate in the eyes of the judiciary and the public in general.
“This explains why the agents of the APC-led government fabricated and pushed into the public space, bogus and laughable claims that Atiku Abubakar paid $30,000 to a US lobby group to assist in the quest to reclaim our mandate only for the Federal Government and the Presidency to turn around to feast on the fabrications with threats against Atiku Abubakar.”
He called on Nigerians to take note of the alleged threats by the Presidency through the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, to jail Atiku based on trumped-up charges, while describing him as “one who is lucky to be walking free.”