Says EU report, vindication of compromised polls’ outcome
Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The Labour Party (LP) has said that the international community is now watching the Nigeria judiciary to see its verdict on the compelling evidence laid before it to prove that the 2023 presidential poll result was manipulated in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
Director General of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Organisation, Balogun Osuntokun, who stated this at a press conference in Abuja, said that the evidence of a compromised presidential poll was too weighty to be ignored by the court.
“Having concluded the hearing stage, at the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja, the attention of the people and the international community remains transfixed on the judiciary, and with it, the expectation that the glaring wrongs, as documented by all Observer groups, local and international, will be corrected, for the good of the nation.
“There is no doubt that Nigerians and the International Community expect the Judiciary, to critically examine the evidence, the law, and the processes of these flawed elections, in arriving at a legally correct, and overwhelmingly acknowledgeable verdict.”
LP commended all election observer groups for their courage in making public their unbiased findings about the polls.
The party further said that the reports of the various observer groups including the European Union which indicted the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for living below expectations, had vindicated the position of the party and other opposition parties that the presidential election was heavily compromised.
“We commend, in particular, without equivocation, the courage, sense of focus and clarity of thought, expressed by various Election Observer groups, local and international, that were duly accredited to monitor the elections.
“The Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room, The United States National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Republican Institute (IRI) Joint International Election Observer Mission, The European Union Election Observer Mission, Commonwealth Observer Group, The African Union AU, ECOWAS and all other regional and local Observers, all deserve commendation.
“Their doggedness in field engagement, despite the onslaught of violence, inducement, manipulation and all manner of evil, as witnessed in the elections, will serve not only as an unbiased record of the tragic events, but as motivation for its logical conclusion and inevitable resolution, according to the will of the people.
“In critically and broadly examining the independent reports of the various Observer missions, the consistency in their experiences and exposition, cannot be overlooked, as each and every Observer group, underlined the fact, that the elections fell short of citizens expectations, legal regulations and moral and international standards.”
Labour Party said that the various observer groups’ reports confirmed that INEC failed woefully and should be held responsible.
“The Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room, the umbrella group for the majority of national NGOs involved in monitoring the elections, described the elections, in its comprehensive report, and I quote, as ‘a missed opportunity in Nigeria’s democratic development.’
“They further reported, that ‘credibility of the 2023 election was greatly tarnished by numerous pitfalls. The election suffered several lingering deficiencies in election administration, including inefficient management of permanent voters cards (PVCs) distribution, failure of operational and logistical arrangements, malfunctioning of election technology, inefficient handling of results management procedures, lack of transparent results collation and declaration process, and poor crisis communication.”
“It further underlined that ‘public confidence in the credibility of the electoral process and the capacity of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct elections is gravely shaken, and that extraordinary efforts will be required to re-establish trust.’
“It further posited that “Yet, on election day, Nigerians were deeply disappointed by the glitches experienced in the use of IReV. Situation Room observed that election officials in many polling units were unable to access the IRev portal and to upload results of the presidential election. There were reports of election officials who either refused or were unable to upload results.”
LP accused INEC of deliberately frustrating the uploading of the presidential poll results from the polling units to rob the party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, of his victory.
“The Civil Society Situation Room, also emphasised “that NO presidential election result was uploaded to the IReV portal as at 8.00 pm on the election day. In instances where upload occurred, the results were not legible or was defaced. Some uploads were not relevant as pictures of individuals or scenes on the location were uploaded.
“The seemingly high-handed manner, in which the Chairman of INEC, who served as the National Collation Officer for the Presidential Election, handled proceedings during the results collation exercise, further eroded public confidence in the elections.
“The failure of the Chairman of INEC to properly consider appeals for review of results from some states, in the light of the malfunction of IReV, as well as the apparent haste with which the collation process was concluded in an unusual hour, provided the basis for some observers to question the credibility of the collated results”
“The NDI-NRI International Election Observer Mission, whose parent bodies had, prior to the elections, deployed resources in voter education and so many other areas, in aid of a credible outcome, in their own report, submitted, and i quote “the 2023 elections in Nigeria fell short of citizens’ legitimate and reasonable expectations.
“Significant logistical, technological, and communications failures by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), divisive rhetoric by political parties, political violence, regional disparities in electoral integrity, instances of vote manipulation, and marginalization of key populations, marred the electoral process and disenfranchised voters negatively impacting on key aspects of the election process.”
Labour Party demanded the sack, arrest and prosecution of the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, for allegedly dashing the hope of Nigerians in the 2023 polls, and to account for the hundreds of billions of Naira allocated for the exercise.
“We demand unequivocally, the immediate dismissal from Office and prosecution of Prof Mahmud Yakubu, and the commencement of forensic financial investigation, into the expenditure of budgeted disbursements and Donors’ funds received by INEC.. not least of which is the N300 billion appropriated from the National purse, as well as other funds and materials, received from International Donor Agencies.”