The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said on Monday during a protest march to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja that there was ample evidence that the commission directly aided rigging of the February 25 presidential election, which produced the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, as president-elect.
PDP had at the protest its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar; his running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa; National Chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu; and other party leaders and governors. It accused INEC of deceiving Nigerians by deliberately deactivating the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) during the election.
The opposition party condemned what it called “hasty” declaration of the presidential election results, saying it is a violation of the Electoral Act. It maintained that the election was a charade and a murder of democracy in the country.
The electoral body, while receiving the protest letter, promised to look into the grievances and assured, “This commission is for the Nigerian people. Our allegiance is to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This commission does not have allegiance to any political party or candidate, our allegiance is to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Similarly, the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of APC dismissed the protest staged by PDP leaders as incapable of providing a window of victory for a “fragmented” opposition party and its presidential candidate.
At the same time, National Secretary of APC, Senator Iyiola Omsiore, described Atiku and other PDP leaders as desperate for protesting at the national headquarters of INEC over the outcome of the presidential election.
The protest, which started at 11.05 am and ended at the INEC office about 1.45pm, caused heavy vehicular traffic from the PDP Legacy office in Maitama.
In its protest letter signed by National Chairman, Ayu, and National Secretary, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, and handed over to INEC, PDP reiterated that the conduct of the February 25 election fell short of the expectations of all Nigerians.
PDP stated, “You would recall the outcry of many concerned citizens of this country variously accusing your commission of complicity in a planned manipulation of the electoral process in favour of the ruling Party (APC). At each time the issues took the media front burner, you were quick in dispelling them as rumours and mere allegations.
“Today, Nigerians have all seen that those allegations were true. It is, indeed, disheartening to say that the election, which raised the hopes of all Nigerians to witness an advancement in our electoral process, turned out to be a charade.”
The opposition party reminded INEC that in many meetings and briefings it held with the political parties and the press ahead of the elections, it had assured Nigerians that the Professor Mahmood Yakubu leadership would conduct a free, fair, transparent and credible election.
The letter stated further, “You also promised the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) technology in voter accreditation and result management, whereby the public would have unhindered access to the results uploaded to your servers online and in real time (iREV). Contrary to this belief, there was an abysmal failure on your part to honour your promises.
“Predictably, the conduct and outcome of the presidential and National Assembly elections fell below acceptable standards. It has resonated the fears of all Nigerians in your integrity and that of your commission to conduct a free, fair, transparent and credible election.
“The confidence you deceitfully made us to repose in you and your commission has been battered and eroded away by the outcome of that election. The masses are angry and have not hidden their resentment and rejection of the purported declaration you made to that effect.
“Without any equivocation, this election, in the history of our country, elicited so much interest, awareness, commitment and dexterity in Nigerians to exercise their civic responsibility.”
According to PDP, “The major factors that heightened the zeal and confidence of Nigerians to participate in the electoral process were the failures of the ruling APC government, the introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) technology, the Electoral Act 2022 and your repeated assurances of bequeathing Nigerians a credible electoral process.
“Everyone recalls with disappointment, the reported widespread irregularities and manipulations that marred the election. There is ample evidence to show deliberate complicity of your commission in the entire fraud.
“The falsification of results and deliberate de-activation of the BVAS and your servers to frustrate the transmission of election results directly from the polling units attest to that. In all these issues brought to your attention, you refused to act.”
The INEC National Commissioner in charge of Information and Publicity, Festus Okoye, received the letter on behalf of the INEC chairman.
PDP also told INEC in the letter, “Nigerians are no more in doubt of your direct involvement in aiding and abetting the monumental rigging and manipulation of the election results in favour of the ruling party (APC).
“In addition, the refusal and neglect of your electoral officers to transmit results of the election directly from the Polling Units (PU) to INEC Servers as required by law is a flagrant violation of the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022. This action is not acceptable to Nigerians and neither to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It, therefore, stands to be challenged.
“For want of clarity, Section 64 (4) (b) of the Electoral Act 2022 specifically provides thus: ‘A collation officer or Returning Officer at an election shall collate and announce the result of an election subject to his or her verification and confirmation that the (b) Votes stated on the collated result are correct and consistent with the votes or results recorded and transmitted directly from Polling Units under Section 60 (4) of this Act.
“Consequent upon the above Section 60 (4) of the Electoral Act 2022, the result you have announced and the declarations made are ultra vires, illegal and of no effect except for results transmitted directly from the Polling Units.
“It is, therefore, circumspect that despite the agitations by Nigerians and our party during the collation process protesting the reported irregularities surrounding the election, you proceeded with the announcement of the results in utter disregard of the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
“It is funny and a gross abuse of our electoral process for your commission to have commenced transmission of the February 25 election results from the various Polling Units (PU) days after the results of the said election had been announced and purported winners declared. Your action in this regard is an affront on the sensibilities of all Nigerians, which we have vowed to resist.
“Notably, the hasty declaration of the election results evidently violating the Electoral Act 2022 places your integrity to total scrutiny going by your deceitful representations and assurances to Nigerians and the international community that the Electoral Act 2022 is a game changer that would guarantee a free, fair, transparent and credible electoral process, especially with the BVAS transmission of election results directly from the polling units.
“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) detests and condemns this absurdity and brazen rape of our electoral process. Nigeria should be seen as a country governed by the rule of law and it is a responsibility we collectively owe our citizens desirous of entrenching true democratic principles and the rule of law. In this circumstance, we call on all Nigerians, both home and in the diaspora, to stand firmly in defence of their rights, votes and stolen mandate.
“In consideration of the foregoing, the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), acting on the mandate of the Nigerian electorate, has resolved as follows:
“To reject and declare as unacceptable the outcome, announcement and declaration of the presidential election results.
“To call on your commission to suspend the on-going transmission of the Polling Units results to your servers, which is in complete breach of the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
“To warn your commission against a repeat of the experiences of the February 25 election in the coming Governorship and State Assembly elections of March 11, 2023. Any attempt to manipulate the electoral process will be vehemently resisted.
“To call on all Nigerians to be co-partners in defence of our democracy, votes, the rule of law and their rights to freely choose the candidates of their choice.
“To demand an explanation why you proceeded with the declaration of the election results marred with irregularities against all calls to address the complaints brought to your attention before and during the collation process.”
The PDP leadership equally expatiated, “We are writing to you because we want to bring our grievances and demands formally to your attention for necessary action. Furthermore, to inform you and your commission that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) together with the ordinary and aggrieved masses of our dear country will no longer tolerate any act in defiance of our electoral processes and laws.
“We feel pained at the outcome of the February 25, 2023 election and the provocative declaration your commission made against the will of the people. Sadly, this is coming at the time Nigerians were in high hopes of embracing a reformed electoral process.”
The opposition party warned, “Please take caution in your acts to avoid destabilising our fledgling democracy.”
Other PDP leaders at the protest included the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal; former National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus; former Adamawa State Governor, Boni Haruna; former Kano State Governor, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau; Daniel Bwacha; and Senator Dino Melaye.
INEC: Our Allegiance is to All Nigerians, Nigeria
Okoye said while receiving the PDP letter that the commission’s allegiance was to Nigeria and its citizens.
Okoye, in company with other national commissioners, received the protest letter from Ayu and assured them that the electoral umpire would address the issues.
Okoye responded, “I have received this letter on behalf of the commission, if there are remedial issues to be dealt with, we are going to deal with those remedial issues.
“This commission is for the Nigerian people. Our allegiance is for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This commission does not have allegiance to any political party or candidate, our allegiance is to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
APC: Protest Won’t Give Victory Window for ‘Fragmented’ PDP
Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of APC said the protest staged by leaders of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, would not provide any window of victory for the main opposition party.
Director, Media and Publicity, APC PCC, Bayo Onanuga, in a statement, on Monday, said, instead of Atiku and his party to wisely spend their time gathering the evidence they hoped to present before the courts, they were busy dancing “skelewu” on the streets and causing traffic nuisance to residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), who were going about their legitimate businesses on a Monday morning.
Onanuga said the ruling party did not expect a former vice president of Nigeria, a statesman and a presidential candidate to be so jobless to have time to disturb public peace over an electoral outcome he had already said he would challenge in court.
The APC spokesman said when Atiku told the whole world last week that he would seek redress in court over the outcome of the February 25 presidential election, little did the ruling party know that he did not plan to be guided by his own promise.
He added that going by Atiku’s political antecedents, it was rather not surprising that, days later, he led a band of protesters, “nay jesters” in Abuja, to the headquarters of INEC.
Onanuga stated, “With Atiku staging a theatre of the absurd, we fail to see how a march to INEC by a scanty crowd will provide any victory window for him and his fragmented PDP. The only recourse open to Atiku after the electoral umpire declared Asiwaju Bola Tinubu the president-elect is the Election Petition Tribunal. What was on display today by Alhaji Atiku and his motley crowd was a new low from the perennial election loser.”
The APC campaign urged Atiku to respect his age and the high office of Vice President of Nigeria he once occupied and stop being teleguided by Dino Melaye, who disclosed scandalously that N400 billion was wasted on the election, which was clear at the outset that Atiku was bound to lose.
Onanuga noted, “Atiku should avoid being misdirected by other court jesters in his party, who continued to campaign after the election, still spewing their inanities against the president-elect. They are mere comic characters in a travelling theatre group.”
Atiku, PDP Leaders Desperate, Says APC Scribe, Omisore
National Secretary of APC, Senator Iyiola Omsiore, described Atiku and other PDP leaders as desperate for protesting at the national headquarters of INEC over the outcome of the presidential election. Omisore stated this yesterday while playing host to a delegation from the Chinese government led by Directing Officer, Chinese Embassy, Wu Baocai, who paid a courtesy visit to the national secretariat of the ruling party.
The APC national secretary said, “On behalf of the National Chairman and National Working Committee (NWC), I want to thank the Chinese government for believing in us, for believing in Nigeria, for believing in INEC, for believing in the process of electoral campaigns.
“The welcome development is a signpost that the world has accepted this election worldwide and equally from the Chinese government, Xi Jinping. This is the testimony of the fairness, the freeness and acceptability of the election across the world.”
Addressing the PDP protest to INEC, Omisore described leaders of the opposition party as “pure losers”, saying, “They are just plain losers, simple. They are just pure losers, simple no more, no less. In any contest, there must be winners and there must be losers. So, must you win? No! They are just bad losers. Very undemocratic and they are desperate people.”
Earlier, Baocai, while reading a letter from President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, congratulated the Nigerian president-elect, Bola Tinubu, on his victory at the poll.
The Chinese government expressed confidence that under Tinubu’s leadership, Nigeria would continue to make new achievements in national building and development.
The letter read, “I learned with great joy of your election as President of Nigeria, and on behalf of the Chinese Government and the Chinese people, I would like to extend to you my sincere congratulations and best wishes. I am confident that, under your leadership, Nigeria will continue to make new achievements in the cause of national building and development.
“Nigeria is an important strategic partner of China in Africa. In recent years, the bilateral relations between our two countries enjoy a sound momentum of development, with fruitful cooperation in various fields, mutual support to each other on issues of core interests and major concerns, and close coordination on international and regional affairs.
“I attach great importance to the development of China-Nigeria relations, and stand ready to work with you to take the China-Nigeria Strategic Partnership to new heights.”
Meanwhile, all support groups of the ruling party have concluded plans to hold a solidarity walk to INEC today.
A short statement by the secretary, Support Group Coordinator, Tosin Adeyanju, said the solidarity walk became imperative to defend the country’s democracy and declared results of the presidential and National Assembly elections in favour of APC.
Adeyanju said the dress code for the solidarity walk was white.
Chuks Okocha and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja