APC, INEC re­ject Yakas­sai’s claim on 2015 elec­tions

• YCE seeks probe of al­leged rig­ging • Ag­bakoba urges vig­i­lance over 2019 poll

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - FRONT PAGE - From Adamu Abuh (Abuja) and Seye Olu­mide (La­gos)

THE All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC) and the In­de­pen­dent Na­tional Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (INEC) have re­jected the claim by the el­der states­man and politi­cian, Al- haji Tanko Yakas­sai, that the 2015 gen­eral elec­tion was mas­sively rigged in the north.

Yakas­sai dis­closed the rig­ging to jour­nal­ists when he led the newly formed North­ern Lead­ers Stake­hold­ers As-

sem­bly to for­mer Mil­i­tary Pres­i­dent, Gen. Ibrahim Ba­bangida, at his Up­hill Man­sion in Minna, the Niger State cap­i­tal at the week­end.

He cited in­stances of ma­nip­u­la­tion in the elec­tions. He said while the card read­ers were re­li­giously used in the south­ern part of the coun­try, they were not so de­ployed in the north.

“There are many ways of rig­ging elec­tion. What hap­pened in 2015 where the ma­jor­ity of south­ern­ers res­i­dent in the north were scared away from their places of res­i­dence, where they had reg­is­tered, to their place of ori­gin and there­fore could not have the op­por­tu­nity to vote, was rig­ging.

“Again some of the south­ern­ers who did not run away were afraid to come out and vote on the day of elec­tion, so scar­ing peo­ple from com­ing out to vote for the can­di­dates of their choice is also a form of rig­ging,” he told re­porters. But in a re­ac­tion yes­ter­day, the Na­tional Pub­lic­ity Sec­re­tary of the rul­ing APC, Mr. Bo­laji Ab­dul­lahi, dis­missed Yakas­sai’s claim. He hinged his ar­gu­ment on the con­clu­sion reached by in­ter­na­tional ob­servers and other mon­i­tor­ing agen­cies that the 2015 elec­tion was con­sid­ered the freest, fairest and most cred­i­ble elec­tion so far con­ducted in the coun­try.

“If Se­na­tor Ibrahim Mantu could come out to con­fess how he helped the erst­while rul­ing Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) rig elec­tion in the past, the onus is on Yakas­sai to back up his claim with sub­stan­tial ev­i­dence.”

Ab­dul­lahi added that Yakas­sai’s po­si­tion must have been based on his lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ence dur­ing the elec­tion.

“How­ever, the fact avail­able both to the in­ter­nal mon­i­tor­ing agen­cies and those from out­side is that the last gen­eral elec­tion was the best in the his­tory of Nige­ria,” the APC’S spokesman said. The Deputy Na­tional Chair­man of the APC, Se­gun Oni faulted the claim that the poll was rigged to usher Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari into power.

Oni, who spoke to re­porters af­ter pick­ing his N5.5 mil­lion worth ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est form to vie for the July 14 Ek­iti gov­er­nor­ship poll, main­tained that the out­come of the 2015 pres­i­den­tial poll was a true re­flec­tion of the wishes and as­pi­ra­tions of the elec­torate.

“It is not true. The card reader can­not rig elec­tion. Hu­man be­ings can rig elec­tions, not card read­ers. I must say that when peo­ple are look­ing for ways to jus­tify their in­ad­e­qua­cies, they will look for fail­ures, they will look for faults. The truth is that, the peo­ple of Nige­ria voted over­whelm­ingly for Buhari.”

Also, the spokesman of INEC, Mr. Ro­timi Oyekanmi, said as far as the com­mis­sion was con­cerned, the 2015 elec­tion was widely ap­plauded as the most cred­i­ble. “I hon­estly do not know how the el­der states­man came about his claims,” he said.

On whether the com­mis­sion would take le­gal ac­tion to save its cred­i­bil­ity and that of the elec­tion, Oyekanmi said: “INEC is only tasked with the re­spon­si­bil­ity to con­duct elec­tions and not to in­ves­ti­gate or pros­e­cute. The task is left for other gov­ern­ment agen­cies re­spon­si­ble for such to take the nec­es­sary ac­tion.”

Some em­i­nent Nige­ri­ans who spoke on the is­sue yes­ter­day dif­fered on what should be done with Yakassa’s claim. The Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, Yoruba Coun­cil of El­ders (YCE), Mr. Kunle Ola­jide, sup­ported the call to raise a ju­di­cial com­mis­sion of in­quiry to in­ves­ti­gate the claim, say­ing it would en­able Nige­ri­ans to get fur­ther facts and also pre­pare them for the com­ing elec­tions.

Ola­jide said the rev­e­la­tion by Yakas­sai was a wake-up call to the elec­toral com­mis­sion, the civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions, po­lit­i­cal par­ties and the elec­torate.

“The de­vel­op­ment is chal- leng­ing us to pay the needed at­ten­tion to the com­ing gen­eral elec­tion. “The claim by Yakas­sai that INEC in­sisted that the card read­ers be used in the south while they were not so in the north is puz­zling be­cause we are all wit­nesses to how the card read­ers mal­func­tioned in the south. Even when the erst­while pres­i­dent, Dr. Good­luck Jonathan, went to cast his votes, the card didn’t work.”

He said the com­mis­sion should be set up to sum­mon all the par­ties in­volved, in­clud­ing INEC, to ex­plain to Nige­ri­ans what hap­pened.

“It is not a mat­ter that we must sweep under the car­pet, oth­er­wise what do we know will hap­pen in the next gen­eral elec­tion?”

For a for­mer Pres­i­dent, Nige­rian Bar As­so­ci­a­tion (NBA), Olisa Ag­bakoba (SAN), an ac­tive civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tion, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the po­lit­i­cal par­ties, should work se­ri­ously to en­sure that INEC con­ducts free, fair and cred­i­ble elec­tions in 2019.

“If Nige­ri­ans fail to en­sure that INEC gets the com­ing elec­tion right, we may be sur­prised that some­body we do not want will again emerge. It is, there­fore, our duty and re­spon­si­bil­ity to mo­bilise peo­ple to get the Per­ma­nent Voter’s Card (PVC), vote and en­sure that their votes count,” he said.

All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC) Na­tional Chair­man, Chief John Odigie-oye­gun (left); for­mer In­terim Na­tional Chair­man, APC, Chief Bisi Akande; Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) Na­tional Chair­man, Chief Uche Se­con­dus and for­mer Sen­ate Pres­i­dent Ken Nna­mani...

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