The Peoples Democratic Party on Tuesday accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of colluding with the All Progressives Congress to win the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
This, the PDP said, was done through the militarization of polls in its strongholds and skewing the process in the favour of the ruling party.
This was contained in a letter the National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, handed over to INEC management during a peaceful protest it organised to express its grievances about the February polls to the electoral umpire.
The protesters had marched from the PDP complex in Maitama, Abuja popularly called Legacy House to INEC headquarters.
The protesters carried placards and chanted songs. Some of the placards read, ‘INEC give us original result,’ ‘Kogi result is a sham.’ Yakubu, the actor, announce the original result’ and ‘INEC please do the right thing.’
He urged the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, to make a statement that the military must not come near where elections would be taking place on Saturday.
A copy of the letter signed by Secondus and addressed to the INEC chairman, titled, ‘Cases of infractions and deliberate violations of the electoral law and guidelines,’ was made available to our correspondents.
It read, “We want to place on record and bring to your attention the very obvious and noticeable infractions and violations of the Electoral Law and the Regulations/Guidelines regulating the 2019 general elections which have very negative implications on the credibility, transparency and integrity of the entire electoral processes particularly the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections.”
Secondus said the letter became imperative as the nation approached the governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections on March 9.
The letter partly read, “We observed with regrets that the usage of the SCR machines was enforced strategically in the South-South, South-East and the North-Central zones of the country which are essentially the PDP strongholds. This is radically different from what transpired in the North-West, North-East and the South-West, which were estimated as the APC strongholds.
“This is quite contrary to the provisions of paragraph 10(a) & (b) of the regulations and guidelines governing the 2019 General Elections and all the assurances you, Prof. Yakub Mahmood, frequently gave up to the last hours before the elections.
“The deliberate non-deployment of the Electronic Collation System (E-Collation) for the elections results from the units, through the ward centres to the Presidential Collation Centre in Abuja as provided for in the 2019 Electoral Regulations and Guidelines made by you, and as contained in your several official press statements is very suspect.
“This is more so when you have never bothered to explain to Nigerians the justification for this sudden official somersault on such a critical component of the electoral process especially with all the taxpayer’s money spent to install the facilities.
“The unconstitutional deployment of the armed forces especially soldiers and police for the illegitimate purposes to harassing, intimidating,suppressing of leaders of the PDP and suppression of voters in the PDP strongholds across the country which are very well known to you. The use of these same security agents by the government to harass and intimidate Resident Electoral Commissioners and certain INEC national commissioners for the sake of forcing them to declare votes for the APC’s candidates throughout the country has been officially or otherwise brought to your knowledge by the affected officers who even threatened to resign from their positions, yet you have decided to keep mute over it in a way portraying outright conspiracy and collusion of yourself and the commission with the APC government perpetrators.”
He added, “We also want to bring to your knowledge that most of the collation centres in the country were cordoned off by officers and men of the armed forces who chased away accredited agents and or candidates of our party, the PDP, from such centres while the results of the elections from the units were being manipulated, mutilated and altered to suite the dictates and criminal desires of the APC led government. These results that were tampered with were accepted by you and your commission and announced as the results of the elections.
“In places like Lagos, Rivers, Nasarawa, Abia, Benue, Plateau, Ondo, Osun states et al, results of duly conducted elections were illegally cancelled especially in the PDP dominated areas to reduce the margin of victory in those states in favour of the APC candidates. Is it not surprising to you that the Lagos State with over six million voters can only return less than one million votes? This was the case in virtually all the PDP dominated states where voter suppression was deployed as a major strategy by you and the APC government in active collaboration with some of your unscrupulous RECs and staffers.”
He said, “We have taken time to chronicle the above fundamental deliberate violations and infractions of the Electoral Law, Regulations and Guidelines and all known canons of electoral best practices by your commission in obvious complicity and collaboration with the APC and security agencies to rig the elections and rob our party of victory.
“We want to remind you that as we inch towards Saturday, March 9, 2019 elections, you must do everything to right these grave anomalies to save yourself and the commission from this woeful embarrassment as you may go down in history as the worst Chairman of INEC in our history.”
Secondus also cautioned INEC against militarising the electoral process, adding that such was undemocratic.
Secondus later handed over the protest letter to one of Yakubu’s representatives who received the protesters.
INEC National Commissioner, Legal, May Agbamuche-Mbu, who spoke on behalf of Yakubu, while addressing the protesters, commended them for approaching the issues in a civilised manner, adding that the commission had received the PDP’s complaints.
She said INEC members were employed to do a professional job but added that they could not do the work alone.
Agbamuche-Mbu said, “We are going to look at it critically, where we need to change, we will change, where it concerns others, we will come together and work together. This country belongs to all of us and we must protect it with all our might. I believe that on Saturday, the elections will go on very well but our mantra in this election is that we want peace in our country.
“I supervised elections in Rivers and Bayelsa states so I know what it means to invest in that area, and the people of Rivers and Akwa Ibom states know what they want.
“We intend to make these elections free and fair, all we ask is that for your own sake too, your mantra should be peace. If you preach peace to the people on the field you can rest assured INEC on its part and the security agencies would do their part and we look at it again.”