2023 Election: Did Obasanjo hire Russian lawyer ‘Natalia Veselnitskaya’ for Peter Obi?

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Several social media posts have claimed that former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has flown in a Russia-based lawyer to reclaim the mandate of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, at the presidential election tribunal.

“Obasanjo flies in World-Class Russian lawyer “Natalia Veselnitskaya” to defend Peter Obi ahead of Monday’s Presidential court case,” one of the tweets read.

“According to reports, she is the most dangerous lawyer in the whole world with an unbeatable record,” the tweet from the Tweep with the Twitter handle: @SpecialConvenant added.

It noted that Natalia Veselnitskaya is a close associate of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

“She has never lost a case before. She is the special adviser to President “Putin” and was the same lawyer woman that defeated America in a court case against heavy sanctions on Russia. According to reports, she doesn’t believe in adjournment, she stands for you once in court”, the tweet reads in part.

The tweet was shared on Friday, May 5, 2023.

 

CLAIM

Olusegun Obasanjo flies in a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, to reclaim Peter Obi’s mandate.

Screenshot of the tweet with the claim.

THE FINDINGS

Checks by The FactCheckHub show that the claim is FALSE.

The ICIR had reported that the 2023 Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal is scheduled to commence on Monday, May 8 with a pre-hearing session.

The election petition tribunal is organised to clarify the disputed declaration of All Progressives Congress (APC) flag-bearer Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Nigeria’s President-elect.

Also, The ICIR had earlier reported that INEC declared Tinubu the winner of the February 25 presidential poll with 8,794,726 votes.

Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), polled 6,984,520 votes, while Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), came third with 6,101,533 votes.

Abubakar had hired the services of 19 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) to challenge the election’s result, while his counterpart Obi had secured the services of at least 20 SANs to challenge the outcome of the February 25 presidential election.

Speaking to The FactCheckHub on Saturday, May 6, 2023, Obasanjo’s media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi said that Obasanjo neither employed nor invited the service of a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya to reclaim Peter Obi’s mandate at the presidential election tribunal.

Akinyemi stressed that there is a need for Nigerians to question the credibility and authenticity of the report.

“It is a rumour that is unconfirmed, and it has got nothing to do with Obasanjo. Also, it is not from a credible medium,” he stated.

Further independent findings by The FactCheckHub revealed that no credible media platform published the report as claimed.

 

THE VERDICT

The claim that former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo invited Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer, to reclaim Peter Obi’s mandate at the presidential electoral tribunal is FALSE; Obasanjo’s media aide debunked the claim.

Theophilus Adedokun

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