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Northern, Southern Leaders Forum say Buhari’s victory illegitimate

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President Muhammadu Buhari. PHOTO: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP<br />

The Southern and Northern Leaders and Elders Forum has condemned the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections, saying the exercise didn’t represent the true wishes of Nigerian electorate, and that President Muhammadu Buhari was not legitimately elected.

The forum said its review of major developments leading to the elections, management of the electoral process and the conduct and announced outcome of the exercise were flawed with irregularities.

In a statement yesterday, leaders of the forum, Chief Edwin Clark for Niger Delta; Convener Northern Elders Forum, Professor Ango Abdullahi; Chieftain of Yoruba group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; President General Ohanaeze, Chief Nina Nwodo and President Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Pogu Bitrus commended the statesmanship and commitment to the democratic process of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for deciding to challenge the election result in the courts, as provided for in the constitution.

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It described Atiku’s decision as patriotic, responsible and ultimately the highest contribution to democratic system, saying some other person would by now be soaking “baboons and dogs in blood.”

The forum said the elections revealed massive irregularities and outright abuse of electoral laws, the rules and regulations of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as well as the failure of security forces to remain neutral and operate within the highest standards of their calling.

It added that the Peace Accord was ridiculed by deliberate and open abuse of state organs, the denial of rights of many citizens to vote and blatant abuse of all commitments made by present administration.

It said: “To decline to challenge obviously fictional figures, failures to respect key elements of the electoral process, such as use of Smart Card Readers and preventing agents and observers access to all processes is to condone massive setback, which this election represents for the country.

“The outcome of the elections were clearly premeditated in the refusal of the President to sign the Electoral Act and the orchestrated suspension of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the CJN shortly before the composition of Electoral Tribunals.”

It, therefore, called on the judiciary to uphold the highest standards of integrity and commitment to its hallowed role, by doing justice to the appeals that will come before it, knowing that the eyes of the world would be on them.

It said it was aware that attempts were being made to demoralise and intimidate the judiciary to remove a conducive context for litigations.

The forum appealed to Nigerians to continue to show faith in the democratic process and remain law-abiding, “as we await the judiciary’s decision on a matter that will ultimately determine the quality of our democratic process and the nature of the nation we all call our own.”


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