Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), is reported to be currently lobbying the government of the United States of America in a bid to have it accord him recognition as the authentic winner of the February 23, 2019 presidential election.
According to a report by the Centre for Responsive Politics (CRP), a research group dedicated to tracking money in US politics and its effects on elections and public policy, published on Monday, Atiku enlisted the assistance of two high-powered lawyers in Washington DC, to “help in his legal challenge after his election loss”.
The report also indicated that the former vice president has beaten a path to those inside Trump’s inner circle, leveraging on the clout of political consultants like Riva Levinson, whom he engaged and who worked with prominent Trump associates like Paul Manafort and Brian Ballard. Ballard is reputed to have been a major Trump fundraiser.
According to the report, Atiku has adopted the same body language as similar politically prominent and cause influence-chasing persons visiting from outside the US who find it expedient to patronise the 263-room Trump International Hotel on Washington DC’s Pennsylvania Avenue.
It says that “Abubakar joins opposition politicians like Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó in turning to lobbyists to garner American support. According to a FARA filings accessed using the Centre for Responsive Politics’ Foreign Lobby Watch, on March 24, former Justice Department official Bruce Fein and his firm Fein & DelValle PLLC registered as foreign agents on Abubakar’s behalf.”
Fein, the associate deputy attorney general in Ronald Reagan’s administration and general counsel to the FCC, played a significant role in the repeal of the FCC’s “Fairness Doctrine.” He also later worked with then-Congressman, Bob Barr (Republican, Georgia) in drafting articles of impeachment against the 42nd president of the United States of America, Mr. Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky case.
Joining Fein in the effort is his partner at the firm, W. Bruce DelValle, whose online biography depicts diverse background in constitutional law and civil rights matters, intellectual property and liability disputes and entertainment/sports celebrities.
The agreement notes that Lloyd Ukwu, who is described as “a Nigerian barrister and trusted confidant [of Abubakar],” is assisting “in the operations of the U.S. Situation Room.” Ukwu is a critic of Buhari and is the founder of a group called ‘We, the People of Nigeria’ which claims to be an advocate for “free and fair elections.” Ukwu recently led a delegation to meet with a variety of government officials in the State Department (American Foreign Affairs ministry) and the US legislature; and “delivered a letter to the [acting] United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Jonathan Cohen, in New York to ensure the success of the Nigerian elections.”
According to the filing, Fein will be paid $30,000 over a 90-day contract to provide “legal, consultancy and public advocacy services to encourage Congress and the Executive” to stall the official recognition of a winner of the Nigerian election until after the legal challenge is “impartially and independently resolved.”
Another filing lays out how the influence campaign will be conducted. Lobbyists will meet with members of Congress and their staff to persuade them to pass resolutions in the House and Senate “to forebear from a final declaration and recognition of a winner” until after Abubakar’s appeals are decided fairly and independently. Additionally, the firm will “draft articles and op-ed pieces” about the issues surrounding the Nigerian election and appear on television and other media programs.
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 expressly described as “to convince the United States that your presidency would open a fresh and new chapter in Nigerian politics.”
The filing also asserts that the lobbying effort will demonstrate that an Abubakar presidency is “the will of the people.” It warns that if Abubakar is denied a victory, problems like genocide, poverty, corruption and strife will “undoubtedly continue.”
All this is happening simultaneously as Atiku Abubakar is approaching the post-election courts in Nigeria to contest the victory already declared for President Muhammadu Buhari by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in that election. This is in the face of conflicting legal opinions by senior lawyers and political commentators on the feasibility of a reversal of Buhari’s victory.
Going by precedence, such presidential election victories have not been reversed but the Atiku Abubakar camp has been upbeat flaunting what it believes to be instances of breaches and outright falsification of figures in the conduct of the election and processing of the result.
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