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2019 polls: 60 presidential candidates back INEC over server

Say controversy unnecessary
Call on Buhari to sign amended Electoral Act

By Henry Umoru & Joseph Erunke

ABUJA—SIXTY presidential candidates in the 2019 election have declared their support for Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, over the latter’s stance that it had no server to record results of the election.

The candidates at a joint press conference in Abuja, yesterday, insisted that the commission’s position was not wrong, given that there was no provision in the law that mandated it to have server for the election.

To this end, they berated the opposition Peoples Democractic Party, PDP, and its candidate in the election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, for insisting on access to the server, saying the demand was uncalled for, given that all political parties and their candidates in the poll were notified by the commission, prior to the election, that it would not adopt full election voting in the 2019 general election.

Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman Mahmood Yakubu

Speaking under the aegis of Joint Forum of 60 Presidential Candidates, the candidates said the insistence of PDP and Atiku to inspect the server was “a plot to discredit the election as political parties never agreed with INEC in any of the several pre-election meetings that results will be transmitted electronically.”

Reading a prepared text to newsmen, the converner, Chief Perry Opara, said: “We reiterate that the INEC server controversy is unnecessary. It is a plot to discredit the election as political parties never agreed with INEC in any of the several pre-election meetings that results will be transmitted electronically. Parties agreed on a lot of issues with the commission and those were implemented.

“The just concluded 2019 presidential election, the most recent in our democratic journey, was very eventful. Nigerians must recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, most commendably released for the very first time the timetable for the elections a full year before the poll day.

“The activities, preparatory to the elections, were all done in line with the timelines, hence Nigerians were in shock when the elections were postponed.

“The events that foisted the shift on INEC, we later discovered, were due to sabotage and political manipulations, which were prompted by politicians to gain undue advantage in the elections.

“We, however, applaud the proactive leadership of the electoral commission for taking the best decision in the interest of the nation to shift the opening of polls and conduct of the elections.

“For us, who were direct participants in the election and with the information we had, we felt the election was impossible in seven days, hence it was a major pull off for INEC to have conducted it that time without any major hitches.

“In the build-up to the elections, we, as presidential candidates and our political parties, held several meetings with INEC. The delay in finalising the electoral legal framework and the eventual withholding of assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill deprived the nation of the much needed reform of our electoral process, which must be anchored on the rule of law.

“The needless controversy over the INEC server would have been lawful as it would have been mandatory for the commission to deploy the server.”

Call on Buhari to sign amended Electoral Act

“Going forward, we would like to urge President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sign the Electoral Act Amendment into law once it is presented to him again by the National Assembly. That amendment will hugely improve our electoral system and its processes.

“We also demand the immediate setting up of the process that will lead to the sanctioning of all personnel of security agencies who compromised the elections to serve as a deterrent to others and to exhibit that there are consequences for risking the peaceful coexistence of the country and putting the country in danger.”

“We urge all Nigerians to remain peaceful and law-abiding and go about their lawful duties as we believe that the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal has for now put the controversy to rest with the ruling it gave yesterday (Monday).

“Let us support our electoral system to make it better and secure the rights of Nigerians to freely chose their leaders.”

 

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