Leon Usigbe- Abuja
Opposition parties, including Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP), and African Democratic Congress (ADC), have called for the cancelation of last Saturday’s elections, which they said were marred by widespread violence, rigging, intimidation of voters, doctoring of the results, and violation of the laid down electoral process.
Chairmen of the parties, Julius Abure, Iyorchia Ayu, and Ralph Nwosu, of LP, PDP, and ADC, respectively, spoke at a press conference in Abuja, describing the collation of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as travesty and rape of democracy.
Reading from a prepared text on behalf of the parties, Abure took exception to the electoral body’s failure to transmit results electronically as planned, saying that it gave room for manipulation of election results.
He maintained that the declared results, so far, show monumental disparities between the actual results reported by party agents, members, and millions of Nigerians, on election day from the polling units.
The parties accused INEC of compromising the exercise even before the commencement of the collation exercise.
Consequently, the opposition said they have lost confidence in Prof Mahmood Yakubu, as the chairman of INEC, and demanded that he should step aside to allow for someone more credible to oversee the conclusion of the exercise.
The text reads: “Nigeria held its general elections on Saturday, February 25, 2023, and this press conference is to address the urgent and important issues arising from the exercise, which was for the election of the president, vice president, and national assembly positions.
“The exercise, carried out by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is still underway as we hold this conference collation is still on-going in some parts of the country.
“We monitored with dismay the travesty to democracy that was exhibited at the National Collation Centre of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). It is, to say the least, a rape on democracy.
“The conduct of the February 25, 2023 election has been marred by widespread violence, rigging, intimidation of voters, doctoring of the results, and violation of the laid down electoral process which was communicated by the national electoral body, INEC.
“INEC had announced a process which would require the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for accreditation and voting and that all election results would be electronically transmitted from polling units to INEC Servers.
“The above process, published repeatedly, announced, and agreed with INEC by all political parties was not followed, thereby leaving room for manipulation of the results after Nigerians had voted.
“The results announced by INEC so far shows monumental disparities between the actual results reported by Labour Party agents, our party members, and indeed millions of Nigerians, on election day from the polling units.
“We have also listened to the arguments made by collation officers of the different political parties.
“The crux of the matter is the deliberate refusal of the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu as the National Returning Officer for the presidential election to respond to the demand of political parties for the commission to respect the pre-existing regulations that results of this election shall be uploaded on the INEC server through the Bio-modal Voter Accreditation System technology.
“The refusal of INEC to comply with the laid down, published, and agreed process for the conduct of the election has compromised the integrity and credibility of entire presidential election.
“We also note that February 25, 2023, the day of the election, millions of Nigerians were left in utter doubt and disappointment at polling units as INEC officials across the country refused to electronically transmit the results to the INEC server as was expected by all stakeholders in this election. In cases where they tried to upload the results, INEC officials assigned to polling units could not do so. In some cases, they revealed that they had directives from their superiors not to upload the results. In some cases, they said their password to access the INEC server had been changed.
“We also recall that the initial explanation by INEC for the delay was on account of glitches on the INEC server.
“Neither did INEC explain to the nation what the nature of those glitches was nor did the commission avail the country or even agents at the polling units that it will not be uploading the results generated at the Polling Units to the server when it resolves those glitches.
“We are, therefore, constrained on this development to state that INEC compromised the integrity of this election even before collation began at the PUs.
“Section 60 sub-section 5 of the Electoral Act states that ‘the presiding officer shall transfer the results, including total number of accredited voters and the result of the ballot in a manner as prescribed by the commission.’
“It was on the strength of this provision in our Electoral Act that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) introduced the BVAS technology to the country.
“The expectation of the majority of Nigerians was that INEC was going to conduct the 2023 election in compliance with both the Electoral Act and its own guidelines.
“Unfortunately, INEC recapitulated on that promise and conducted the election with the usual crude standard that predates the introduction of the BVAS machine.
“This election is not free and far from being fair or transparent.
“There is ongoing extensive cancellation of results all over the country, especially in the areas of strength of the opposition parties to shore up the numbers of the ruling APC.
“We have, therefore, arrived at the conclusion that the presidential election of Saturday, February 25, 2023 conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been irretrievable compromised and, we have totally lost faith in the entire process.
“The Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party shall not be part of the process currently going on at the National Collation Centre, and we demand that this sham of an election should be immediately cancelled.
“We also call for a fresh election should be carried out within the window allowed by the Electoral Act and in accordance with the laid down INEC procedure for the conduct of the 2023 Elections.
“We similarly call on the international community to note that the results being declared at the National Collation centre have been heavily doctored and manipulated and do not reflect the wishes of Nigerians expressed at the polls on February 25, 2023.
“We also wish to declare a vote of no confidence on the INEC Chairman, Professor Yakubu Mahmood. By his conduct and reaction to the complaints of disenfranchised political parties, we believe that he lacks the integrity and moral standing to continue to oversee this process to a conclusion.
“We are therefore calling for Professor Yakubu to step aside from his role as INEC Chairman and for a credible personality from outside the Commission to take his place and see this process to a conclusion that would be acceptable to all stakeholders and would restore the confidence of the international community in our democratic process and institutions.
“We have a responsibility to the millions of Nigerians who put their faith in our parties and our presidential candidates to defend our country from the forces that seek to tear us apart.
“We are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to stand by his promise to Nigerians to bequeath a legacy of free, fair, and transparent elections to the country.
“President Muhammadu Buhari, this is a time of great test of your integrity to use your office to save Nigeria from this electoral heist and save your legacy from the forces that seek to mar your democratic credentials.
“We are calling on Nigerians to continue to believe in the promise of Nigeria. To join us in defending the integrity of our country and defend our democracy.”
In his comments, Ayu accused the elecroral body of allocation of votes, pointing out that identical results were given to the PDP, LP and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in both Bauchi and Gombe states.
He said: “The votes from Bauchi and Gombe states are exactly the same. In Bauchi, APC has 146,977. Gombe, two different states, APC has also 146,977. PDP in Bauchi has 319,123. PDP in Gombe has 319,123.
“Labour Party has 26,160. In Gombe, they also have 26,160. It is very clear that these results were deliberately allocated, and funny enough, this type of mischief, they didn’t do it good enough.”