By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA-The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Sunday described the declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, that there are no underage voters in Kano State as an act of cowardice and a threat to the nation’s democracy.
The party said the INEC boss, in allowing the All Progressive Congress (APC)-led federal government to push him to make such false declaration, despite the documentary evidence in the public domain, has called into question the umpire’s credibility and ability to conduct free and fair polls in 2019.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement yesterday said INEC has dented its image and obliterated a huge part of its honour with its denial of the obvious instead of taking urgent steps to clean up the register and correct all anomalies ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“When Professor Yakubu set up his committee of handpicked INEC officials, instead of deploying stakeholders, comprising political parties and credible Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), the PDP immediately alerted the public of a grand design to use the panel to arrive at predetermined findings and cover the illegality for the APC.
“We invite Nigerians and the international community to note the sequence of plots by INEC and the APC to hide the existence of underage voters in Kano and Katsina States.
“Nigerians will recall that when the issue first came to the fore, the APC mounted a staunch and unyielding defence for INEC, thus betraying their vested interests in the illegality.
“INEC, on its own part, issued an initial reaction confirming the existence of underage voting in the February 10, 2018 Kano council poll but attempted to shift the blame to the Kano state government which conducted that poll,” the party noted.
The statement further lamented the justification put up by the commission for the registration of the minors saying, “When confronted with the fact that it was INEC and not Kano State that registered the minors and issued them with valid voters card, the commission again tried to exonerate itself by claiming that its officials registered the minors following threats by the communities.
“In the face of these INEC’s embarrassing dances, how then did Professor Yakubu’s committee arrive at its findings when even officials of INEC, including those who superintended over the registration of the minors, had already declared the reasons behind their action?
“The entire world is shocked at how INEC under Professor Yakubu is caving into pressure by APC to manipulate processes leading to the 2019 general election.
“In any case, we hope Professor Yakubu understands that the APC is only setting him up against Nigerians but we caution that he should not allow himself to be used to throw our nation into chaos and confusion,” the statement further added.