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Tribunal verdict: Atiku speaks on ‘congratulating’ Tinubu, retiring from politics

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The Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has denied congratulating President Bola Tinubu over Wednesday’s judgment of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.

Persecondnews reports that the petitions of Atiku and the Presidential Candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, against Tinubu was struck out by the Tribunal.

The five-man tribunal led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, upheld the victory of Tinubu in a judgment which spanned over five hours.

Atiku, in a statement released through his media adviser, Paul Ibe, on Thursday and given to Persecondnews in Abuja, said: “The congratulatory statement is fake news being orchestrated by those desperately looking for validation for the usurpation of the mandate of Nigerians”.

Ibe noted that the former vice president is not retiring from politics following the tribunal’s judgment, but will instead continue to be part of the struggle to deepen democracy in the country.

“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.

“Why should a man be desperate for validation? Does truth require validation? Why should you issue a congratulatory statement and attribute it to Atiku if your conscience is not troubled by the electoral heist you have perpetrated?

“Contrary to the fake news being circulated by Tinubu propagandists, Atiku has already asked his lawyers to proceed to the Supreme Court to challenge the judgment of the election petition tribunal.

“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,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Atiku, has noted that his party only lost a “war after the judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, but the war is not over.”

Atiku, who made this known during a media briefing at the PDP Headquarters in Abuja, on Thursday, in reaction to the PEPC verdict, said he respects the tribunal’s judgment but “refuses to accept it because it lacks justice.”

Atiku said: “In the words of my mentor, Shehu Yar Adua, ‘losing a battle is less important than losing a war.’ We shall win the war of restoring confidence and restoring hope in our electoral system. The war is not over.

“My decision to go to court is anchored in my belief that the court is the sanctuary of justice. The journey of my political career, as you know, holds so much to the courage and fearless decisions of our judiciary.

“Indeed, I am no stranger to legal battles, and I can say that I have a fair idea of how the court system works. All through my career as a politician, I have been a fighter, and I must say that I have found the judiciary as a worthy pillar to rest on in the pursuit of justice.

“The last presidential election in our country and the way it was managed by the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, leaves behind unenviable precedents, which I believe the courts have a duty to redress.

“Our gains in ensuring transparent elections through the deployment of technology was heavily compromised by INEC in the way it managed the last presidential election.

“And I am afraid that the judgment of the court as rendered by the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal yesterday, 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 this instance, is the Supreme Court.

“It is my 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 future generations to evaluate.”

“On this note, I urge all my supporters to remain steadfast. 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,” the former vice-president also said.

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