The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2023 poll, Atiku Abubakar, on Thursday, said he did not betray President Bola Tinubu, over the allegation of certificate forgery he levelled against him at the court.
Rather, he said the former Lagos State governor abandoned him as well as the Action Congress of Nigeria and supported Umaru Yar’Adua of the PDP in the 2007 presidential poll.
Atiku also recalled how he saved Tinubu by not allowing former President Olusegun Obasanjo to take over Lagos State in the 2007 general elections.
However, the All Progressives Congress has knocked Atiku following his Thursday attack on Tinubu, saying his ill-timed press conference was in gross contempt of the Supreme Court.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Felix Morka, said the ruling party was not bothered by Atiku’s claims, which it said lacked purpose and delivered nothing except “the pitiful regurgitation of lies, mindless distortions and deliberate falsehood on Atiku’s infantile obsession with the academic record of the president.’’
But Atiku, who was the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the February elections, vowed not to give up on his quest to prove that Tinubu forged the Chicago State University certificate he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission before the polls.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, the former VP also urged the presidential candidates of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, and New Nigeria Peoples Party, Rabiu Kwankwaso, to support his quest for justice.
He expressed concern that Nigeria’s reputation was at stake, adding that “We must uphold Nigeria’s election ground rule (constitution).”
The Thursday press conference marked the third time Atiku addressed journalists since INEC declared Tinubu of the APC the winner of the presidential election.
Those who attended the world press conference were former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; ex-Cross River State Governor, Liyel Imoke; former National Chairmen of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus; and Senator Iyorchia Ayu, among others.
In addition to filing an election petition appeal at the Supreme Court to challenge the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal which upheld Tinubu’s victory, the PDP standard bearer had sought the academic records of the President from the Chicago State University to prove his allegation of forgery against the former Lagos State governor.
Magistrate Jeffrey Gilbert had on September 19 granted Atiku’s request for the release of Tinubu’s academic records but the President challenged the ruling, but his objection that the documents would not be relevant in Atiku’s appeal at the Supreme Court was overruled by federal judge Nancy Maldonado, who directed the CSU to release the president’s academic records.
Responding to questions from newsmen during the news conference, Atiku denied reports that his action was a betrayal of the ex-Lagos State governor, noting that Tinubu is indebted to him for preventing former President Olusegun Obasanjo from dethroning him as governor in 2007.
He revealed, “In 2007, we came together to form ACN (Action Congress of Nigeria) and in Lagos at the convention, I emerged and got the ticket. And after the convention, a few of our friends who are here met me and told me Bola wanted to be my running mate. So, I asked for their opinion on Muslim-Muslim ticket.
“All of them said they objected. So, I asked them why didn’t they tell him? So, that was the end of our political relationship; it broke away as he went ahead and supported Yar’adua. So where is the ground for him to say I betrayed him?’’
Speaking further, he added, “Those of you who are old enough will remember that in 2003 the PDP took over all the states in the South-West, with the exception of Lagos. I stood before Obasanjo and said no, you can’t take Lagos. And he left it. So, who is indebted to the other: Is it me or Tinubu? Tinubu is indebted to me.’’
The PDP presidential candidate, who lamented how former President Muhammadu Buhari allegedly dealt with some of his business entities, said he was not scared Tinubu would go after his business interest, adding “It has already been taken away from me since the Buhari administration. They took it and distributed it among themselves.”
When I’ll sheath my sword, Atiku
Atiku who pledged to fight on, promised to sheath his sword after the Supreme Court must have passed judgment on the matter.
Justifying his demand for Tinubu’s CSU records, Atiku explained, “We undertook this journey at great cost and for important reasons. The ground rules for legitimate governance in our country need to be upheld, and the reputation of our country is at stake. That affects everyone, Nigerians everywhere.’’
He added, “I am a democrat by conviction and a citizen of a country that I love. The issues at stake in this case require us once more to re-dedicate ourselves to both the country and our constitution.
“I wish to pay tribute to the late human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, who inspired us on this path of discovery. Now, he can truly rest in peace in the assurance that what he started about 23 years ago has come to fruition.
“Gani’s vindication today gives credence to the saying that no matter how fast a lie runs, the truth will someday overtake it. This quest is not for or about Atiku Abubakar. It is a quest for the enthronement of truth, morality, and accountability in our public affairs.’’
Calling for mass support for his crusade, the PDP candidate said, ‘’In line with this, therefore, I am calling on all well-meaning Nigerians, leaders of thought, our religious leaders, our traditional leaders, our community leaders, our political leaders, and in particular, (ex) Governor Peter Obi of the Labour Party and (ex) Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of the NNPP and the leaders of every political party in Nigeria and, indeed, every single person who loves this country, as I do, and who wishes nothing but the best for the country, as I do, to join me in this campaign to enshrine probity, accountability and the basic principles of justice, morality and uprightness in our country and our government.”
Atiku’s lawyer, Kalu Kalu alleged that the CSU confirmed that Tinubu forged the certificate he presented to INEC.
“Also, the qualifying certificates from Southwest College to Chicago bear a female indicating that the document does not belong to Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“The CSU admission has a claim that Bola Ahmed Tinubu attended government college, Lagos, and graduated in 1970 when indeed, the school was established in 1974. We were told by the CSU Registrar that the A in CSU stands for Adekunle, but the A in the certificate submitted by Bola Tinubu to INEC has the NYSC certificate as Adekunle,’’ he further claimed.
Kalu declared that the Supreme Court had held that they could permit a party to adduce fresh evidence as long as certain conditions were met, adding that “from what transpired in the proceedings in US courts, that condition is going to be met. So as we speak, our law is very clear that a party at fault cannot be allowed to enjoy the fruit of his illegality.”
Meanwhile, Atiku has reportedly filed fresh evidence obtained from the Chicago State University, United States to strengthen his appeal in the Supreme Court against Tinubu.
A credible source, who is close to the former Vice President, exclusively disclosed that Atiku submitted fresh evidence.
Responding to a question from our correspondent on the matter, the source said “ Yes, we have submitted fresh evidence to the Supreme Court before the deadline.”
Madukwe B. Nwabuisi is an accomplished journalist renown for his fearless reporting style and extensive expertise in the field. He is an investigative journalist, who has established himself as a kamikaze reporter.