Nigeria: Atiku Inaugurates Legal Team to Challenge Buhari's Election Victory

Atiku Abubakar

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has inaugurated a legal team to challenge the result of last Saturday's presidential election, his spokesperson said.

The team is headed by Livy Uzoukwu, a senior advocate of Nigeria.

The Independent National Electoral Commission had on Wednesday declared Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the election.

Mr Abubakar rejected the result, accusing the government of using the military to intimidate voters and suppress PDP strongholds. He also alleged the connivance of INEC officials, security agents and the ruling party to manufacture bogus figures and falsify the returns from the polling units.

On Thursday night, the PDP candidate met with members of the National Peace Committee prompting reports he may have been prevailed upon not to proceed with the challenge.

"I have just inaugurated my legal team and charged them with the responsibility of ensuring that our stolen mandate is retrieved," Mr Abubakar said Saturday, according to his spokesperson, Paul Ibe.

"I am encouraged by the presence of fearless men and women of the Bench. The judiciary which had in the past discharged itself ably is once again being called upon to deliver judgement on this matter that will be untainted by lucre and uncowed by the threat of immoral power," he added.

Mr Abubakar said sooner "these noble dispensers of justice will give a judgement that will represent a historic denunciation of electoral fraud and mandate bandit."

I will not mortgage the Peoples' mandate

Meanwhile, Mr Abubakar's media office said the former vice president's son in-law and the finance director of his group of companies, Babalele Abdullahi, was arrested in Abuja on Saturday "in a desperate move to have Atiku Abubakar concede and congratulate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari".

"... officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at about 8.30am today (Saturday) invaded the Maitama residence of Babalele. They were however not given access into the house until his lawyers arrived," the statement said.

"The EFCC agents numbering about two dozen came in 2 regular vehicles, an 18-seater Toyota bus (registration Abuja CS 522 RSH) and a hilux van.

"They came with a search warrant to search the house and office of Babalele and found nothing incriminating.

"They then proceeded to his office at Oakland Centre in Maitama and found nothing incriminating there. However, they took away some documents of landed property.

"Not done, the EFCC officials stormed his Wuse residence where they again found nothing incriminating after the search.

"Afterwards, Babalele was taken away to the EFCC office in Wuse to make a statement alongside Mr. Lawan Ayuba.

Mr Abubakar's media office said while the PDP candidate recognised the constitutional role of the EFCC to carry out investigations, he "will not be cowed by any attempt to blackmail him into mortgaging his mandate."

When asked why Mr Babalele was arrested, the spokesperson for the EFCC, Tony Orilade, told PREMIUM TIMES he could not immediately confirm the case, and would require time to do so.

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