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Confirmed: Atiku indeed hired lobbyists for US to recognize him president

Lai Muhammed to Atiku Abubakar: "Enough is enough!”

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The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, hired two new lobbyists, John Barnett and Bruce Fein, to make the United States recognise him as Nigeria’s “authentic president”, Elombah News has learnt.

Elombah News has reported that Atiku’s spokesman, Paul Ibe, denied the reports and described them as “total fabrication” and “fake news” by the All Progressives Congress, which it alleged to have lying as its “only bragging rights of competence.”

However, fact checking by icirnigeria.org has confirmed the story and Atiku’s rebuttal, a lie.

The terms of the contract include its representation of the PDP candidate “in the United States and in international forums to obtain official recognition that you are the authentic President of Nigeria based on an accurate counting of legal ballots cast on February 23, 2019.”

But information on the US Justice Department’s FARA portal establish that such contract exists, where Atiku is seeking to be acknowledged abroad as “the authentic President of Nigeria” based on PDP’s grounds for challenging the declared results”, Icir.org wrote.

“Atiku Abubakar’s claim that the report about his contract with the US firm is a “total fabrication” is therefore false.

The Centre for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group based in Washington DC, the originator of the story based its report on FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) filings by the lobbyists.

The Centre said Bruce Fein and his firm Fein & DelValle PLLC registered as foreign agents on Abubakar’s behalf to provide legal, consultancy, and public advocacy services over a 90-day period for $30,000.

“In the contract, Fein’s firm is explicit in promising to ‘obtain official recognition that you are the authentic President of Nigeria based on an accurate counting of legal ballots.’

The goal of the effort is straightforwardly described as ‘to convince the United States that your presidency would open a fresh and new chapter in Nigerian politics,’” it stated.

In the part of the registration form requiring the nature and method of executing the agreement, Fein & DelValle stated that it will be providing:

“legal, consultancy and public advocacy services to encourage Congress and the President to forebear from final declaration and recognition of a winner of Nigeria’s February 23, 2019 presidential ejection until outstanding legal challenges to the initial Government of Nigeria assertion that incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari was the victor are impartially and independently resolved by the Supreme Court of Nigeria without political or military influence, intimidation, or manipulation; and, engage in public advocacy to applaud all candidates in the presidential election who are supporting and following the rule of law in resolving the outstanding electoral disputes.”

The law firm, according to the agreement, is expected to consult with Congress members towards passing House and Senate resolutions to restrain from a final recognition of a winner pending a fair determination of the legal issues, draft articles and op-eds “to spotlight the issues in Nigeria post-2019 presidential election and to promote the rule of law and due process in resolving electoral disputes in Nigeria”, and then “make television and other media appearances to engage in public advocacy discussions of these issues”.

It also attached a letter written to Atiku on March 20, where it said the terms of the contract include its representation of the PDP candidate “in the United States and in international forums to obtain official recognition that you are the authentic President of Nigeria based on an accurate counting of legal ballots cast on February 23, 2019.”

Recall that Atiku’s spokesman had denied the reports stating that “Since Atiku resisted pressure not to go to court, the APC has been behaving like a cat on hot bricks because the outcome of the 2019 elections has exposed and shattered the facade of their dubious integrity,” Ibe said in the statement.

“The APC are behaving nervously like a thief living under the fear of being exposed and shamed; they are now using fake news against Atiku instead of focusing on defending themselves in the court”, the statement continued.

“For a party that has broken the worst record in election rigging, the APC doesn’t have any iota of integrity to be taken seriously by anybody. Atiku’s court case has become their biggest burden because it exposes their integrity as a sham, and instead of defending their stolen mandate in court, they are now using fake news to divert public attention from the historic electoral heist they have committed against Nigerians.

“No amount of diversionary propaganda and fake news campaign by APC will stop Atiku Abubakar from continuing the court action he started to reclaim the stolen mandate.”

Information Minister, Lai Mohammed

The denial was in response to warning from the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, that Atiku Abubakar cannot become president through “subterfuge”.

Addressing journalists in Abuja on Thursday, the minister warned Abubakar against replicating the Venezuelan model in Nigeria.

He maintained that the former vice president cannot become Nigeria’s president through the backdoor because he lost in the elections.

According to Mohammed: “As you must have noticed in recent times, posters bearing the picture of former Vice President and the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, with the inscription: ”THE PUKKA, H.E. ATIKU ABUBAKAR, THE REAL AND THE RIGHT”, have surfaced across major streets in Abuja.

“The appearance of these posters coincide with the media report that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has hired a US lobbying firm to convince the United States not to recognize the re-election of President Buhari until the Supreme Court has ruled on the suit by the PDP presidential candidate

“The posters and the hiring of US lobbyists, the latest of such by the PDP candidate, have triggered questions about what Alhaji Abubakar is up to. Is he starting a fresh campaign after the elections have been won and lost? Has he rescinded his decision to challenge the results of the presidential election in court, perhaps after realizing that the results he claimed to have obtained from the INEC back server are cooked? Is he now going for self-help? What really is Atiku’s motive?

“Gentlemen, we are aware of media reports that the PDP presidential candidate on Wednesday distanced himself from the posters that are circulating in Abuja. He also reportedly denied hiring US lobbyists, claiming tongue-in-cheek that the APC fabricated the report. If the media reports are right, it means that the former Vice President has suddenly realized the grave implication of his actions, hence has decided to beat a quick retreat before it is too late. As a self-avowed democrat, he should realize that the only lawful channel for challenging the result of an election is through the courts. Resorting to self-help, as he seems to be doing now, is an act of desperation and the consequences are dire.

“There is no doubt that the PDP presidential candidate, out of desperation, is thinking of replicating the Venezuelan model right here in Nigeria. But he should realize that Nigeria is not Venezuela, and that the situations in both countries are not the same.

“President Muhammadu Buhari won the Feb. 23rd 2019 presidential elections fair and square, with a margin of 3,928,869 million votes. The election’s credibility was attested to by local and foreign observers.

“Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has the right to do whatever is lawful to challenge the outcome of that election. But he cannot get through the back door what he couldn’t get through the front door. That will be a pipe dream.

“If he believes hiring a foreign lobbying firm will advance his quest, we wish him the best of luck. But seeking US recognition as the winner of an election that he lost by almost 4 million votes is unconscionable. Recall, gentlemen, that after the result of the presidential election was announced, the U.S. joined other countries to congratulate President Buhari.

“Yes, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has lost an election. But he will not be the first or the last person to lose an election, and he should realize that losing an election is not the end of the world. He has challenged the result of the election in court. That’s just as well. However, he should not give the impression that he does not have confidence in the judicial process, which is what resorting to self-help implies. He should stop overheating the polity and quit trying to instigate a political crisis in Nigeria. No citizen, no matter how highly placed, is above the laws of the land. Enough is enough!”

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