By Samuel Ogundipe
Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has informed the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal that he was born in Nigeria and, was eligible to stand for elections.
Mr Abubakar responded to claims by President Muhammadu Buhari and his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) that he had no constitutional rights to Nigerian presidency because he was not born in the country.
PREMIUM TIMES obtained electronic copy of the tribunal filings by the former vice-president’s legal team on Monday morning.
The Constitution accords only those who have Nigerian citizenship by birth the right to be elected president.
Mr Abubakar said he met the requirements, after tracing his lineage to Sokoto. The former vice-president said his paternal grandfather, Garba Atiku Abdulkadir, was born and raised in Wurno, now part of Sokoto State.
Mr Abubakar was born in Jada, now part of Adamawa State, in 1946. He has always claimed Adamawa as his home state, and was elected governor there in 1999. He, however, did not serve the term, relinquishing the mandate to his running mate after Olusegun Obasanjo tapped him as running mate in 1999 presidential election.
Mr Abubakar described his paternal grandfather as “an itinerant trader” who left Wumo for Jada on a trading expedition with his friend, Ardo Usman.
Mr Abubakar said it was in Jada that his father was born and named Garba.
He also said in the filings that his mother, Aisha Kande, was also a Nigerian and a daughter of a traditional ruler from Dutse, now capital of Jigawa State. He said his parents were all Fulani, which is one of Nigeria’s largest indigenous tribes.
The Nigerian Constitution says a person is a citizen by birth if the person was born in Nigeria before the date of October 1, 1960, or if any of the person’s grandparents belongs or belonged to any of the country’s indigenous groups.
On February 27, INEC declared Mr Buhari winner of the February 23 presidential elections, saying he received 15,191,847 votes to defeat Mr Abubakar, who scored 11,262,978 votes.
Mr Abubakar, however, declined to concede to Mr Buhari, alleging widespread manipulation of results. He proceeded to the tribunal, where his lawyers said data obtained from INEC’s server based on state-by-state computation showed that the main opposition candidate won the election.
The legal team said Mr Abubakar scored 18,356,732 votes defeat Buhari, whom they said received 16,741,430 votes.
Following INEC’s rebuttal that it had no internal server or collated results electronically, Mr Abubakar’s legal team released unique identification information they said they obtained from the commission’s server, which they said would be corroborated by expert witnesses from Microsoft, IBM and Oracle.