Party Agents and representatives of Labour Party (LP), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Action Democratic Party (ADC) have asked Yakubu Mahmood to resign as chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The joint press conference addressed by the National Chairman of LP, Julius Abure; PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu and his ADC counterpart, Ralph Okey Nwosu, was attended by leaders of the three political parties at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
The political parties, called for the conduct of a fresh presidential election, within the time stipulated by the Electoral Act and charged President Muhammadu Buhari to fulfil his promise to give the country a legacy of free, fair and transparent polls.
Abure, who spoke on behalf of the chairmen, said the parties have lost confidence in INEC chairman and has asked him to step aside immediately so that another person from a neutral place can be appointed to oversee a fresh presidential election. Yakubu, however, swiftly described the call for his resignation as misplaced.
Media aide to INEC chairman, Rotimi Lawrence Oyekanmi, who responded to the demand from the political parties, insisted that the results emanating from the states pointed to a free, fair and credible electoral process; contrary to their insinuation. He also dismissed allegations from the PDP national collation agent, Dino Melaye, saying that he allocated scores to parties as unfounded and irresponsible.
The LP chairman explained that INEC, before the election, had emphasised that the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) will be used for accreditation and voting and that all election results will be transmitted electronically, from polling units to the commission’s server. Nevertheless, he stated that the “process, published repeatedly, announced, and agreed with INEC by all political parties was not followed”, thereby creating an avenue for the alleged manipulation of results.
“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 of democracy,” the parties said.
“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 show 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 the entire presidential election.
“We also note that on 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 to not 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.”
The 3 party agents and representatives said the election was not free and far from being fair or transparent. They said there was ongoing intensive cancellation of results all over the country, especially in the areas of strength of the opposition parties to boost 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 INEC has been irretrievably 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.”
However, INEC, in a statement admonished the aggrieved parties to follow legal and due means to address their grievances. “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,” he advised.