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2019 elections: PDP putting lives of our staff at risk – INEC

•Accuses party of hate speech
•As APC says Nigerians bored, tired of PDP’s daily theatrics

By Dirisu Yakubu and Omeiza Ajayi

As campaigns for next year’s general elections intensify, the major political parties and the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC have been trading accusations and counter accusations on alleged plans to rig the elections. The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said  yesterday that the move by the electoral commission to create polling centers in Internally Displaced Persons’, IDP’s, camps in the northern part of the country was a plot hatched by the All Progressives Congress, APC, in connivance with INEC to rig the general elections.

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Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

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INEC, immediately took objection to this accusation describing it as hate speech capable of putting its permanent and ad hoc staff at risk during the elections.

The ruling party, in its reaction said Nigerians were bored and tired of PDP’s daily threatrics and challenged the party tell Nigerians why it should be voted back to power.

INEC plans to rig 2019 elections for APC—PDP

Firing the first salvo yesterday, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, at a press conference noted that all IDP camps in country fall within the catchment area of an already delineated polling unit.

According to him, “for the purposes of emphasis, the PDP rejects all forms of fraudulent ‘special arrangements’ tailored to rig this election. Our party insists that elections must only hold in statutorily designated polling centers across our country. The PDP and indeed, Nigerians are not ready to accept any fabricated result from any illegal polling center created to assist President Buhari to rig the election”

PDP alleged that the presidency had directed INEC to circumvent the checks by secretly opening illegal voting centers at the desert fringes and remote border lines with Chad and Niger, and use them to achieve its original plans to rig the presidential election.

“Part of the plot is to use these illegal remote centers, which will not have functional Smart Card Readers, to allow unchecked voting by aliens, and under-age persons as well as provide the unlimited latitude for criminal allocation of fictitious votes for President Buhari and his party, the APC.

“Furthermore, it is instructive to inform Nigerians that, as part of the presidency’s rigging plot, INEC has been instructed to deploy defective Smart Card Readers to IDP camps, particularly in some strategic northern states, to pave way for direct manipulations, including alteration of voter register and voting by unregistered persons, particularly, with the foreclosure of incident forms for manual accreditation.

“This grand plot to rig is the essential reason President Muhammadu Buhari has deliberately refused to sign the amendments to the Electoral Act, which among other things checked manual manipulation by insisting on the use of card readers for biometric accreditation of voters and elimination of over-voting.

“It is clear that the presidency is desperate to re-enact the same rigging scenario, which, in 2015, allowed 13.5 million unauthorized persons to participate in the Presidential election, paving the way for the illegal allocation of millions of fictitious votes to President Buhari and we urge Nigerians to unite in condemnation of this ignoble scheme.

“Our party completely rejects the plan by INEC to substitute biometric accreditation with manual verification on self-recognition and thumbprint on the voters register.

“Such primitive method of accreditation only opens the way for unlimited rigging, multiple, under-age and alien voting, as well as ballot stuffing which will afford President Buhari and the APC to manipulate themselves back to power against the wish of majority of Nigerians,” the publicity scribe stressed.

We’re not creating new polling units anywhere—INEC

INEC has however debunked the allegations by the PDP that it was working in cahoot with the presidency and the ruling All Progressives Congress APC to create “special polling units” for Internally Displaced Persons IDPs with the sole intent to rig next year’s general elections.

Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu told Saturday Vanguard that the allegation by the PDP amounts to some form of hate speech against the Commission.

His words: “I find it distasteful that Mr Kola Ologbondiyan can deliberately embark on peddling complete falsehood about the Independent National Electoral Commission in this manner, with the sole intent of discrediting all the good efforts being put in place to ensure  credible 2019 General Elections.

“The story about the possibility of so called Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) located in Chad and Niger republic voting in the 2019 general elections was as a result of a misrepresentation of facts by a newspaper in its story on the Validation Conference in respect of the Framework for Voting for Internally Displaced Persons, held on12th December in Abuja, for which the Commission had to promptly issue a rebuttal.

“Everybody knows that displaced persons living in foreign countries cannot be regarded as IDPs but refugees and there is no provision in our laws for any Nigerian living outside Nigeria to vote during the 2019 general elections.

“But Kola Ologbondiyan has continued to insist that the Commission is planning to establish 30,000 polling units and give the so-called IDPs in foreign countries the opportunity to vote in the general elections.

“What this man is doing, by implication, is to put the lives of INEC permanent and adhoc staff, especially the young National Youth Service Corps members at risk during the 2019 general elections with his continuous portrayal of the Commission as untrustworthy and fraudulent.

“This is not what Nigerians need at this time. This is certainly not the way to be an excellent spokesperson.

“INEC is not a political party. The Commission is not planning to establish any new polling units anywhere. Our only interest is to conduct free, fair and credible general elections in 2019 and we require the cooperation of all stakeholders, including political parties, to achieve this objective.

“My strong advice to Kola Ologbodiyan is that he should stop what I can safely describe as hate speech against INEC, for the good of the country and democracy”, he stated.

Nigerians bored, tired of PDP’s daily theatrics—APC

On its part, the ruling All Progressives Congress APC also accused the PDP of daily trying to whip up sentiments rather than being apologetic for its 16 ruinous years in leadership.

APC said even if the PDP in its trademark arrogance refused to be apologetic and remorseful, the party could do better by telling Nigerians why it should be voted back to power.

According to the National Publicity Secretary of APC, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu,

“Are they now saying that all the IDP camps are populated by APC members? Well, if they do not have people to vote for them, why are they in distress? Everyday, they will just come up with one frivolous allegation and that is what they want but we want to discuss issues with them.

We want to discuss policies; we want to discuss infrastructure with them. We want them to tell us why and how they destroyed this country for 16 years and we want to discuss with them what we have done in the past three and a half years. That is what Nigerians want. We want to tell Nigerians what more we want to do going into the next dispensation and not these daily fallacious statements they continue to churn out.

“The country is bored and tired of PDP’s theatrics. There is no single day in the past one or two months that they have spoken on what matters to the people of this country.

“Let us even take it for granted that they are not apologetic and not remorse about the 16 years of waste under them, but going into the future, what are they promising the people of this country? Is it these daily lies and concoctions that they want Nigerians to vote for?

 


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.