The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has been accused to have breached Section 97 of the Electoral Act, following his statement to Northerners that they should vote for him in the 2023 election because he hails from the northern region.
The section expressly states, “A candidate, person or association that engages in campaigning or broadcasting based on religious, tribal or sectional reason to promote or oppose a particular political party or the election of a particular candidate, commits an offence under this Act and is liable on conviction to (a) a maximum fine of N1m or imprisonment for a term of 12 months or both and (b) in the case of a political party, to a maximum of N10m.”
Recall that in a video on social media, Atiku told his audience not to support a Yoruba or Igbo candidate, in reference to the presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi.
The PDP flag bearer, a Fulani from Adamawa State, declared that “what the average Northerner needs is somebody who’s from the North and also understands other parts of the country and has been able to build bridges across the country.
“This is what the Northerner needs. He doesn’t need a Yoruba or Igbo candidate. I stand before you as a pan-Nigerian of northern origin,’’ the ex-vice-president stated at the interactive session.
However, his comment has attracted widespread condemnation from the APC, the LP, the New Nigeria People’s Party, the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, the apex Igbo group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and civil society organisations.
This is happening against the backdrop of the crisis in the PDP which has resulted in the withdrawal of five governors and many members of the Southern bloc of the party from Atiku’s campaign council.
Those who criticized Atiku on Sunday said despite presenting himself as a pan-Nigerian candidate, the former vice-president’s previous actions had aroused suspicions about his stance on critical national issues.