Chairman Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Mahmood Yakubu has described the calls for his resignation by some aggrieved opposition parties as misplaced.
His position came at a time a group of protesters stormed the national collation centre in Abuja Tuesday, calling for the electronic transmission of the results of the presidential elections held last Saturday.
Clarifying the commission’s position in a statement Tuesday in Abuja, the INEC boss said election results from across the country spoke to a free, fair, and credible electoral process, urging the aggrieved political parties to seek redress in the court.
The statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, slammed the spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) Presidential Campaign Council, Sen. Dino Melaye, for accusing him of manipulating the electoral process.
Yakubu stated that the election results emanating from across the country were a testament to a free, fair, and credible electoral process, urging the aggrieved political parties to seek redress in the court.
Oyekanmi said: “The call by the Labour Party and the People’s Democratic Party on the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu to resign is misplaced.
“The allegation by Dino Melaye that the INEC Chairman allocated scores to parties is unfounded and irresponsible.
“At the same time, contrary to the insinuation by both parties, results emanating from the States point to a free, fair and credible process.
“There are laid down procedures for aggrieved parties or candidates to follow when they are dissatisfied about the outcome of an election. Such procedures do not include calling on the INEC Chairman to resign or for the election to be cancelled.
“To be sure, aggrieved parties are free to approach the courts to ventilate their concerns and wait for the matter to be resolved. Making inciting comments capable of causing violence or unrest is unacceptable.
“The 2023 general election processes are in their final stages of completion. It is only fair for aggrieved parties to allow the conclusion of the process and approach the courts with their evidences to pursue their cases.”
But the opposition parties, including PDP, Labour Party and a faction of the Africa Democratic Congress (ADC) said it was imperative for the INEC chair to reign from office.
Addressing journalists on behalf of the group in Abuja Tuesday, LP National Chairman Julius Abure described the presidential election as a charade.
Abure, who was flanked by PDP National Chairman Senator Iyorchia Ayu, and factional National Chairman of ADC Ralph Nwosu, alleged that the exercise was 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.
He said: “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.”
They said: “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 that the password for them 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.
“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,” they further said.
Also on Tuesday, a group of protesters stormed the national collation centre where they demanded for the electronic transmission of results by the electoral body.
The protesters, who came in their numbers, said they were members of the different political parties and expressed dissatisfaction with the decision by INEC not to use the electronic transmission of results during the exercise.
Speaking on behalf of the group at the Emeka Anyaoku street (about a kilometre to the coalition centre), Ilemona Onoja told journalists that their major demand was for the INEC chairman to fulfil the promise of a transparent and open electoral process.
“The process is not being followed. Instead, what we are seeing is a situation where results that were written, that didn’t follow the process, are being announced as the results of the election contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act, contrary to the INEC guidelines that they issued, and contrary to the promises of the INEC chairman.
“We came out on the 25th of February to cast our votes for our preferred candidates. We were told that a process was going to be followed. This process involves accreditation, voting and our ballots will be counted. After it has been counted, it will be transmitted directly to a central server. And that on the day of the election, at the national collation centre, that central server will be displayed and we will be able to follow the results.
“Now, all we are saying is, we don’t mind if our preferred candidate loses, just give us a transparent and open process. Let us be able to see the results. INEC promised us they will follow a certain procedure, we are asking them to follow it,” Onoja said.