By John Alechenu, ABUJA
The presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to remove the Lagos State Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Olusegun Agbaje, for his partisanship and compromise.
His Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday. said it was curious that Agbaje had insisted on using the Lagos State Park and Garage Management Committee, led by transport kingpin, Musiliu Akinsanya, aka MC Oluomo, who is a member of the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council.
Shaibu dismissed Agbaje’s excuse that INEC would not be able to use the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, and the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria, RTEAN, because they had been barred in Lagos State.“
He said: “The law is clear that only a court has the power to proscribe an organisation. That was why the Federal Government had to go to court to proscribe the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN.
“What Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu did in Lagos State was to arbitrarily announce a ban on the activities of the NURTW because the organisation suspended MC Oluomo, the APC’s henchman.
“INEC must not promote illegality by working with a partisan organisation which is filled with APC members that are working for Bola Tinubu.
“How could such people be given sensitive materials to be distributed across Lagos on election day?
“This has already undermined the possibility of a free and fair election. INEC must sanction Mr. Agbaje for insisting on using MC Oluomo’s committee despite protests from members of the public.”
Shaibu recalled that Agbaje was the REC who superintended over the fraudulent 2018 governorship election rerun in Osun State which even the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union discredited.
He further said: “Recall that it was Mr. Agbaje who superintended over the fraudulent and violent Osun governorship rerun which produced Gboyega Oyetola as governor. US Consul General, John Bray was spot on when he stated, ‘We witnessed what appeared to be incidents of interference and intimidation of voters and heard reports of harassment or party monitors, journalists and domestic observers.
Shaibu also noted that even election monitoring groups, such as the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, dismissed the Osun rerun as “fraudulent and anti-democratic”.
He maintained: “Unfortunately, it is the same Agbaje who could not effectively supervise a rerun in a few polling units that has been given the task of superintending the election in Nigeria’s largest state with over seven million registered voters. The election is doomed to fail if INEC doesn’t do the right thing by removing him.
“We remind the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, that this will be his last general election before the end of his tenure. We ask him to protect his legacy by removing Mr. Segun Agbaje if he insists that MC Oluomo must be the one to handle sensitive INEC materials. This election must not only be fair but it must be seen to be fair as well.
“Shaibu explained that “as of Wednesday morning (yesterday), over 17,000 Nigerians had signed a petition on Change.Org, titled ‘Remove Olusegun Agbaje as the Lagos INEC Commissioner for Incompetence and Bigotry’.“The Atiku media aide said Agbaje had been under fire for the last week, following his comments over the inability of a large number of non-indigenes in Lagos to vote.
‘While explaining the development on Channels TV, Agbaje stated that people of the southeast migrated to Lagos and engaged in double registration, hence their inability to get their Permanent Voters’ Cards, PVC.’
Responding to thIs development, Shaibu said: “It is disheartening that the Lagos REC, Mr Segun Agbaje, had begun to show open partisanship. We find it curious that it is the local governments considered opposition strongholds that were unable to get their PVCs.
“Historians and analysts have described this 2023 general election as a watershed. The destiny of over 200 million people is at stake. INEC says it is ready to deliver a credible and free election but one weak link in the chain of command can undermine the entire process.
“We call on Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu to remove the Lagos REC, Mr. Agbaje, as his credibility is seriously in doubt. Again, we call on INEC not to use the MC Oluomo-led partisan organisation to distribute ballot papers on election day.”
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