By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA—Ahead of Saturday’s Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of deliberate violations of the nation’s electoral laws and guidelines, saying the infractions constituted dangers to democracy in the land.
National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, stated this in a letter he jointly signed with the PDP National Secretary, Senator Ibrahim Tsauri, and addressed to chairman of the commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, in Abuja, yesterday.
Leading other members of the National Working Committee, NWC, in a peaceful protest at INEC headquarters yesterday, Secondus faulted the credibility of the recently concluded Presidential election, citing instances of alleged manipulation of the electoral process in favour of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The letter read: “We want to place on record and bring to your attention the very obvious and noticeable infractions and violations of the electoral law and the regulations/guidelines regulating the 2019 general elections which have very negative implications on the credibility, transparency and integrity of the entire electoral processes particularly the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“This has become imperative as we approach the Gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly elections billed for Saturday, March 9, 2019.
Secondus listed the infractions: “The non-usage or selective enforcement of the Smart Card Reader, SCR, machines across the country. We observed with regrets that the usage of the SCR machines were enforced strategically in the South-South, South-East and the North-Central zones of the country which are essentially PDP strongholds.
“This is radically different from what transpired in the North-West, North-East and the South-West which were estimated as the APC strongholds. This is quite contrary to the provisions of Paragraph 10(a) & (b) of the regulations and guidelines governing the 2019 general elections and all the assurances you, Professor Mahmood Yakubu frequently gave up to the last hours before the elections.
“The deliberate non-deployment of the Electronic Collation System, E-Collation, for the elections results from the units, through the ward centres to the Presidential Collation Centre in Abuja as provided for in the 2019 electoral regulations and guidelines made by you, and as contained in your several official press statements is very suspect.
‘’This is more so when you have never bothered to explain to Nigerians the justification for this sudden official somersault on such a critical component of the electoral process especially with all the tax payer’s money spent to install the facilities.
“The unconstitutional deployment of the armed forces especially soldiers and police for the illegitimate purposes to harassing, intimidating, suppressing of leaders of the PDP and suppression of voters in PDP strongholds across the country which are very well known to you.
“The use of these same security agents by the government to harass and intimidate Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, and certain INEC’s national commissioners for the sake of forcing them to declare votes for the APC candidates throughout the country have been officially or otherwise brought to your knowledge by the affected officers who even threatened to resign from their positions.
‘’Yet, you have decided to keep mute over it in a way portraying outright conspiracy and collusion of yourself and the commission with the APC government perpetrators.
“We also want to bring to your knowledge that most of the collation centres in the country were cordoned off by officers and men of the armed forces who chased away accredited agents and or candidates of our party, the PDP, from such centres while the results of the elections from the units were being manipulated, mutilated and altered to suite the dictates and desires of the APC-led government.
‘’These results that were tampered with were accepted by you and your commission and announced as the results of the elections.”
The party also alleged mass cancellation of votes in its stronghold, saying “in places like Lagos, Rivers, Nasarawa, Abia, Benue, Plateau, Ondo and Osun states, results of duly conducted elections were illegally canceled, especially in PDP dominated areas, to reduce the margin of victory in those states in favour of APC candidates.
“Is it not surprising to you that Lagos State with over six million voters can only return less than one million votes? This was the case in virtually all PDP dominated states where voters’ suppression was deployed as a major strategy by you and the APC government in active collaboration of some of your unscrupulous RECs and staffers.
“We are sure that till date, the commission does not know the number of polling units where elections were cancelled and the total number of registered voters at such polling units.
Responding on behalf of the commission, National Commissioner (Legal) at INEC, May Agbamuche-Mbu thanked the protesters for their “civilized approach,” pledging the readiness of the umpire to do a professional job.