INEC’s Supplementary Elections, Illegal Decisions on Rivers, Bauchi States: Our Stand!
By Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, National Publicity Secretary, All Progressives Congress (APC)
After the March 9 governorship elections across the country, the polls in six states – Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto – were declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The electoral process was also suspended in Rivers state in a very fraudulent circumstance.
Post election, Nigerians will recall that the All Progressives Congress (APC) had severally raised alarm over the plot by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to use violence, vote-buying and other election malpractices to subvert the will of the electorate and steal their mandate.
The shocking events leading to the last-minute postponement of the presidential election provided clear evidence with PDP agents caught in different parts of the country with programmed card readers, sensitive election materials and large cache of weapons and security paraphernalia.
Undeterred, the PDP executed its rigging plot through its agents across the country by unleashing violence, vote-buying and hijacking election materials to rig and falsify elections results. The result was violent disruption in many polling areas and over-voting which led to many cancelled votes and ultimately the supplementary elections and suspended exercise in some states.
INEC declared the governorship election in Benue State inconclusive, citing an insufficient margin in votes obtained by the APC candidate Barr. Emmanuel Jime and the PDP candidate, Governor Samuel Ortom.
Even though the PDP claims a bogus lead of over 81,000 votes, reports strongly establish that this dodgy figure is an aggregate of ‘votes’ obtained by subterfuge not from the numbers recorded by the card reader.
There were cases in Logo, Gwer-West, Vandeikya, Guma, Buruku and Gboko Local governments where the card reader was not used.
In Guma, a local government predominated by the APC, zero votes were allocated to our candidate by thugs loyal to the governor of the State, as agents of the party were chased away and election material diverted and ballot papers thumb-printed for the governorship candidate of the PDP.
In Logo, security reports indicated that the ballot papers were massively thumb-printed the night before the election day, while a brazen case of under-age voting supervised by state government compromised security personnel, was prevalent on the actual day of voting.
INEC also reported that 41 polling units in Vandeikya did not use the card reader, as it was the case in many in Gwer-West, Gwer-East, Gboko and other places.
A coalition of election observers in Benue has since called on INEC to declare the candidate of the APC, Barr. Emmanuel Jime, the winner of the governorship polls, in line with the Electoral Act and we align with the position of these observers.
There is no doubt that our candidate obtained the highest number of legitimate votes obtained with the usage of the card reader.
We are concerned and deeply troubled by the unfolding events in Rivers State. The APC strongly condemns this horrid dance in Rivers State. This unholy alliance between Governor Nyesom Wike, PDP and INEC is to prevent Rivers people from electing a candidate of their choice by imposing Wike, the PDP candidate on them. It was glaring that Wike was losing until INEC stepped in to halt the process apparently to save Wike from impending defeat. INEC must put a halt to this madness and brazen illegality.
The desperation of the PDP governorship candidate, Governor Nyesom Wike to remain in office even if it means destroying the State and killing its people, is throwing the State into turmoil and crisis.
With regard to the governorship election in Rivers State, APC has observed with dismay the macabre dance between Wike and INEC in Rivers State. It is on record that Wike through the Rivers State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Obo Effanga engaged PDP card-carrying members as Local Government Area (LGA) Collation Officers to skew the elections in favour of Wike and the PDP.
We call on the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu to immediately redeploy Mr. Effanga from Rivers State in order to avoid crisis that may follow the organised crime being executed by Wike and Obo Effanga to rig and alter the result of the 2019 governorship polls in Rivers State in favour of Wike.
Since the suspension of the electoral process in Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike and the State REC Obo Effanga have been re-writing and doctoring unit results in Rivers State Government House to favour Wike.
We are dismayed that some sponsored stakeholders including those who witnessed the killing of over 40 persons on the 2015 governorship election day alone due to someone’s quest to become governor by all means, appear to be hoodwinked by the very same character to believe that security agents especially the Army should have stayed away to allow a repetition of what happened in 2015.
As a party that was solely at the receiving end of the killings in Rivers State, the APC believes that the proactive steps taken by security agents to checkmate a repeat of the 2015 killings and destructions, is commendable and should be applauded by all peace-loving people.
We call on Nigerians and the international community not to be hoodwinked into believing that Nigerian security agencies interfered in the electoral process in Rivers State. It is a misleading narrative being planted in the media to particularly blackmail the military and the federal government into pulling out security agents from the state, thereby returning the State to the killing field many of us witnessed before, during and after the 2015 elections.
It is now clear to all that INEC has become deaf and blind to the fact that Governor Nyesom Wike invaded the Obio/Akpor Collation Centre with over 200 armed thugs and ordered his security men to shoot an Army Captain and another soldier providing perimeter security to the Collation Centre. Wike’s thugs carted away the electoral materials including both original copies of unit result sheets and ward collation sheets that were being used for the collation of results and took them to the Rivers State Government House where they were filled out with rigged and inflated figures.
We report that in most of the LGAs in the State, voting had concluded, results declared at the polling units and collation had begun before the abrupt suspension of the process. INEC does not have the power under our Electoral Act to suspend elections that has already been concluded. We suspect that INEC might be working to surreptitiously bring in cooked up results credited to Obio/Akpor LGA to skew the election in favour of Wike. We vehemently reject this anti-democratic move.
In Plateau state, our comfortable lead is unassailable. We however urge our members, supporters and indeed the entire Plateau electorate not to be complacent, but remain focused as we prepare for the supplementary election that will give our performing candidate, Governor Simon Lalong a second term in office to consolidate on his first-term achievement.
The opposition PDP camp in its self-deceit has continued to delude itself on its nonexistent electoral chance in Nasarawa local government area. The Kano electorate are not deceived.
Considering what happened in the inconclusive election widely characterized by PDP vote buying and voter intimidation, relevant agencies must ensure that such antidemocratic practice is not repeated.
It is on record how the Kano State Police Commissioner actively assisted the opposition PDP to rig inside Kano city with the deployment of police security for Rabiu Kwankwaso loyalists while state commissioner’s orderlies were withdrawn.
Kano remains an APC state. With the massive votes garnered by our presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari; the entire incoming 9th National Assembly positions – 3 Senators and 24 House of Representatives – won by the APC in Kano State; 27 State House of Assembly seats won by the APC out of 39 and governorship election victories in all local governments outside Kano metropolitan, there is no doubt that Kano State is a stronghold and key support base of the APC.
The APC’s visible achievements in Kano state under Governor Abdullahi Ganduje are enough to give the party an emphatic victory in the rerun election. Again, the rerun will be mostly in APC-controlled rural areas and Nasarawa local government area where our Deputy Governor, Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna is from. Undoubtedly, Kano state remains an APC stronghold and remains in our firm control.
We reject INEC’s decision on the governorship election results from Tafawa Balewa local government area in Bauchi State, as signed and announced by the electoral body’s National Commissioner and chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye.
While the close relationship between Festus Okoye who chaired the fact-finding committee and Yakubu Dogara of the PDP is well known, hence inappropriate for the fact-finding exercise for Bauchi state, INEC has failed to adhere to the fundamental principle of fair-hearing by not inviting our agents during the hearing to ascertain the circumstances leading to the cancellation of the Tafawa Balewa local government election result.
INEC’s decision is illegal as the electoral body and contravenes the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended
We reiterate that according to Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution (as amended) and INEC Guidelines for 2019 General Elections, the electoral body is not empowered to reverse any decision taken at the Collation Centre by the Returning Officer appointed for that purpose.
Such decisions can only be reversed by a court of law, especially when INEC cannot approbate and reprobate.
As displayed in the results of the presidential election, Sokoto is a strong APC state. This rubbishes the suspicious and apparently stolen results ascribed to the PDP governorship candidate.
It is on record how the PDP candidate and state governor, Aminu Tambuwal used thugs and fake security agents to scare voters in the state. This gave PDP agents a free and field day to rig and manipulate the governorship election.
We are also aware how the huge monies were used to buy votes and how complicit INEC officials disenfranchised APC members by purporting that card readers machines stopped working in APC strongholds..
The forthcoming supplementary election in Sokoto state gives the APC; our governorship candidate, Aliyu Ahmed and indeed the Sokoto electorate and an opportunity claim our mandate.
Sokoto state is ready for the Next Level, we must not allow unpopular elements in the state and their backers in the discredited PDP to steal their mandate and subvert the will of the Sokoto electorate.
In Adamawa, the party had reported over-voting and use of security personnel to intimidate APC agents and supporters. While we are confident of our party and candidate Governor Jibrilla Bindow’s victory ahead of the supplementary election in the state, we urge all stakeholders to avoid actions that can plunge the state into crisis.
We equally urge INEC and relevant security agencies to ensure the supplementary election is free, peaceful and fair compared to the last inconclusive governorship election in the state which was characterised by many irregularities and voter intimidation. No political ambition is worth the life of any voters.
In conclusion, as a party, the APC is very confident of victory in the forthcoming supplementary elections. Our commitment to free and fair elections in the county remains resolute. We urge INEC to ensure that all loopholes that led to rigging, vote buying and intimidation of voters by the PDP is blocked.