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Cablegate: Vp Atiku Rails Against Adamawa Judgement, Suffers

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000588

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM NI
SUBJECT: VP ATIKU RAILS AGAINST ADAMAWA JUDGEMENT, SUFFERS
REBUKE FROM INFLUENTIAL NIGERIANS AND PARTISANS

REF: ABUJA 539

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, NOT FOR PUBLICATION ON THE
INTERNET OR THE INTRANET

1. (U) SUMMARY: Following the March 24 nullification of Boni
Haruna's 2003 Adamawa gubernatorial victory by the Adamawa
State
Election Tribunal, Vice President Atiku Abubakar angrily
voiced
his opposition to the ruling at a People's Democratic Party
(PDP)
rally in Yola. Unfortunately for Atiku, his invective was
received poorly and has caused prominent Nigerians to
question
his commitment to the rule of law and his suitability as a
Presidential candidate in 2007. END SUMMARY

2. (U) During a March 26 PDP rally in Yola, Vice President
Atiku
Abubakar lashed out against the Adamawa State Election
Tribunal
for its nullification of Boni Haruna's 2003 Adamawa
gubernatorial
election. Atiku accused Tribunal Chairman Kashim Zanna of
bias
and said the ruling was an attempt to steal Haruna's mandate
and
embarrass the Vice President and his protg Atiku went as
far
as to say he was ready "to insult, beat or slap anyone" who
would
try to take the gubernatorial seat away from the PDP.

3. (U) Despite statements from the Vice President's office
accusing the press of misrepresenting his statements,
reaction to
Atiku's Yola tirade was swift and negative. Nigerian Bar
Association President Wole Olanipekun called the Vice
President's
comments a threat to Nigeria's nascent democracy. Olanipekun
went on to say that Atiku had no right to level such harsh
criticism on the judiciary since the Vice President and the
executive branch had so clearly failed the country. Going
on,
Olanipekun mused that the situation in Nigeria would be
greatly
improved if the executive branch was half as "sober, honest,
transparent, sincere, humane and dispassionate" as the
judiciary
and wondered if Atiku would now blame the judiciary for the
growing number of unresolved killings and assassinations
littering the Nigerian political landscape.

4. (U) During an interview carried by the BBC Hausa Service,
Yahaya Mohmoud, a respected Kaduna-based lawyer and former
Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association's Kaduan branch,
called
on the Vice President to retract his comments and publicly
apologize to the Adamawa Tribunal and Justice Zanna. Mohmoud
was
critical of Atiku, saying he expected the Vice President to
recognize that the ruling would demonstrate the independence
of
the judiciary and strengthen the rule of law. Such disregard
for
the rule of law coming from a man with Presidential
aspirations
did not portend well for Nigeria.

5. (U) Opposition partisans wasted no time in criticizing
the
Vice President. Former Osun State Governor and Alliance for
Democracy (AD) party leader Bisi Akande strongly condemned
Atiku
and hailed the judiciary as the one branch of the government
free
from the control of the PDP "thugs." All Nigerian Peoples
Party
(ANPP) National Secretary Sani El-Katuzu also took advantage
of
the opportunity to criticize Atiku saying his comments
revealed
he was not a true democrat and that he had not intention of
supporting the rule of law when it did not suit his needs.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: While criticism of the Vice President by
opposition party members is not necessarily noteworthy, the
dim
view of Atiku's comments taken by Olanipekun, Mohmoud and
other
influential Nigerians, both Northerners and Southerners, is
indicative of Atiku's unpopularity. Already saddled with the
failure of the Obasanjo administration to improve the lot of
the
average Nigerian, it is difficult to imagine Atiku emerging
as a
successful PDP standard bearer in the 2007 election if he is
also
labeled as undemocratic and disinterested in the rule of law.

END COMMENT.
ROBERTS

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