Atiku’s Citizenship and Buhari’s Illiterate Lawyers By Farooq A. Kperogi

The law of attraction says like attracts like, which explains why Muhammadu Buhari is a magnet for mediocrities. Almost all his appointees are, like him, underwhelming, intellectually incurious rubes. It’s no wonder that even the lawyers he assembled to defend his unprecedentedly audacious electoral robbery are also risible dolts.

Take, for example, Festus Keyamo, Buhari’s reelection campaign spokesman and one of the lawyers defending his stolen mandate. In the run-up to the presidential election, Keyamo took self-righteous umbrage at scientific polls that predicted that Buhari would lose the election, and his point of attack against the polls was that pollsters merely sampled a little over a thousand Nigerians even though Nigeria’s population is close to 200 million! He wondered why neither he nor anyone he knew had been polled!

Apparently, Keyamo has no earthly clue that scientific opinion polls base their snapshots and predictions on something called sampling and that 1,000 is a fair sample to make predictive statements about potential voting behaviors. Gallup, which has accurately predicted American presidential elections since 1944—except in 1948, 1976, 2004 and 2016—polls no more than 1,000 people. You don’t poll every member of a population to make generalizable predictions about the population in research.

Every first-year Nigerian university student learns about random sampling in introductory research methods classes. But a self-important lawyer who is defending presidential electoral fraud is clueless about this.

It isn’t only research illiteracy that plagues members of Buhari’s legal team. They are also constitutional and historical illiterates. Their constitutional and historical illiteracy is instantiated by their claim that PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar should never have been allowed to run for president because he “is not a citizen of Nigeria by birth” since he was born in what was called British Cameroons, which later became the Sardauna Province of Northern Nigeria in 1961.

Many lawyers have already pointed out the scorn-worthy constitutional illiteracy that that sort of reasoning evinces. The Nigerian constitution unambiguously accords the same rights and privileges to people born in British Northern Cameroon as it does to those born in the defunct Southern Nigeria Protectorate and the defunct Northern Nigeria Protectorate.

In any case, Atiku’s paternal and maternal forebears migrated from what is now Sokoto and Jigawa states respectively to what later became British Northern Cameroon. The Nigerian constitution recognizes anyone who is descended from any of the ethnic groups that are indigenous to what is now Nigeria as a Nigerian. Atiku’s paternal forebear came to the Jada area of what was later British Northern Cameroon from Wurno in present-day Sokoto State, which has historically been inhabited by Fulani and Hausa people. By our patrilineal traditions of descent, Atiku isn’t even truly native to Jada; he is from Wurno.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Atiku’s ancestors had always lived in British Northern Cameroon. Well, Buhari’s lawyers betrayed historical illiteracy in thinking that British Cameroons is and has always been synonymous with modern Cameroon. In the 19th century, the German Empire, like other avaricious European powers, expropriated a huge swathe of land in west and central Africa, which it called “Kamerun.” However, in the aftermath of the First World War (which is actually more properly a First European War), Germany was dispossessed of Kamerun along with other lands it had exploited.

In 1922, the League of Nations divvied up Kamerun between Britain and France. France renamed its own portion of the territory “Cameroun” and Britain renamed its own “Northern Cameroon” and “Southern Cameroon.” The two territories are non-contiguous. Britain retained control of Northern Cameroon and Southern Cameroon in 1946, the year Atiku was born, after the United Nations, which replaced the League of Nations in 1945, reclassified the Cameroons as “UN Trust territories.”

On February 11, 1961, “subjects” of British Northern Cameroon, which had been governed by the same British colonizers that governed Nigeria, voted to join newly independent Nigeria. In other words, an independent British Northern Cameroon never existed at any point in history, and no one was ever its “citizen.” So which country do Buhari’s nescient lawyers expect people born in British Northern Cameroon to go and be president of? Or do they expect them to be stateless—or be second-class citizens in Nigeria— because of the historical accident of once being governed as British Northern Cameroon?

People born in British Northern Cameroon were never part of French Cameroun, which became independent in January 1960. They were even different from British Southern Cameroon, which voted to become part of French Cameroun the same day that British Northern Cameroon voted to be integrated to independent Nigeria. In fact, both northern and southern Cameroons were administered from Nigeria, a reason a prominent pre-independence Nigerian political party was called the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons.

It’s transparent that Buhari’s lawyers are merely clutching at straws to salvage their client’s indefensibly reprehensible electoral heist. When a theft is as blatant and as easily detectable as Buhari’s, you can’t invoke the resources of knowledge and logic to defend it. When Atiku’s legal team first pointed out that INEC’s own data, stored on its server, showed that Buhari lost the election to Atiku by nearly two million votes, Buhari’s lawyers—and supporters— made fun of the claim.

However, they stopped laughing when they were confronted with overwhelming evidence. They went from laughing to claiming that Atiku’s agents had “hacked” into INEC’s server to gain access to— and “manipulate”— it, and even called for the arrest of members of the Atiku team. Meanwhile, INEC, which got hundreds of millions of naira to maintain a server and train staff to operate it, was told to say that it did not have any election results on its server.

Well, how can Atiku’s agents “hack” into and even “manipulate” data on a server that has no record of election results? Let us, for now, not even ask what INEC did with the hundreds of millions of naira it budgeted for a server to house election results. Where does it keep the record of the last election? Why is it reluctant to give its record of the results, if it has any, to the Atiku team even when the election tribunal says it should? This is downright conscienceless villainy.

Now that Atiku has enlisted the expert intervention of Microsoft and IBM to authenticate his claim that the electronic record of the presidential election stored on INEC’s server is inconsistent with the results the compromised and morally putrid chairman of INEC announced, there is panic in the Presidential Villa, and Buhari’s ignorant lawyers are engaging in comical, illiterate rhetorical antics for the sole purpose of diversion.

There are also unconfirmed reports that the DSS has arrested a whole host of INEC’s IT staff  members on suspicion that they were the conduits through which the Atiku team got access to the authentic results of the presidential election, which shows that Buhari lost to Atiku.

So the Buhari team went from vain boasts of triumphalism, to vacuous laughter when their electoral robbery was exposed, to panic when firm, irreproachable evidence of this robbery was presented, then to comical diversions, and now to illegal arrests of INEC’s IT staff.

What’s next? Strangulation and intimidation of the judiciary, which started before the election with the illegal firing of the Chief Justice of Nigeria. The judiciary is now practically impotent. This is undisguisedly full-blown fascism.


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