2023 presidential election: Coalition wants Yakubu out, says he failed Nigerians

No fewer than 25 civil society organisations under the umbrella of Democracy Protection Coalition (DPC), have called for the immediate resignation of the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu.

The call followed the outcome of the February 25 presidential elections, which the group said was massively rigged and manipulated by the Yakubu-led INEC.

Addressing journalists on Thursday in Lagos, the Convener of DPC, Eze Eluchie, noted that since people’s confidence, trust and belief in the electoral system and electoral umpires was an integral component of elections, and considering that such confidence, trust and belief in the INEC and its current chairman had been irrevocably eroded, Yakubu should immediately resign his position as the INEC chairman. This, he said, was to avoid further tainting the sanctity and integrity of the forthcoming gubernatorial and houses of assembly elections.

He, however, noted that in the event that the INEC chairman failed to voluntarily resign from the office, the INEC Board should go ahead to suspend him in the same manner the Sokoto State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) was suspended. “The suspension would remain in force until such a time when Yakubu’s manipulations and untoward actions have been addressed and rectified.

Alternatively, the people of Nigeria in whom power ultimately resides, should rise and effectively demand the exit from office of the INEC chairman, because he has displayed gross incompetence, lack of capacity and a penchant to be deceptive and dubious in the discharge of the highly sensitive functions of the INEC chairman,” he added.

Eluchie and his groups said they worked tirelessly to mobilise Nigerians, particularly the youths, and ensured that they actively participated in the electoral processes at different levels because they had faith in the INEC based on the several promises by the Chairman and some of his staff, but lamented that Nigerians as well as the international election observers were eventually deceived by the electoral umpire.

“Encouraged by several and repeated assurances of INEC’s leadership to conduct free, fair and transparent elections, with the promise of real time transmission of votes from the polling units to a national database/repository of votes, the INEC Results Viewing (IReV) Portal, CSOs across Nigeria swung into action to ensure maximum grassroots buy-in into the democracy project and space,” he said.

He noted that some of the really enticing comments from the INEC officials which served to encourage the CSOs to take up the challenge of deepening interest in democratic process among the populace include the statement by the INEC chairman, Prof Yakubu, where he said: “We have piloted the transmission of results in 105 constituencies nationwide, including major Governorship elections. We did it in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States, we also did it in the FCT, so we are happy with the pilots that we have conducted, and we are reasonably confident in the strength of the process. The machine on Election Day does not rely on the internet to accredit voters. It works offline. Now, when it comes to the transmission of results, that’s where you need network. But if there is no Network in the immediate vicinity, the scanned image of the Polling Unit level result which is taken using the BVAS will be transmitted as soon as the staff moves from the polling unit to the collation centers.”

He lamented that even when there was rumour that INEC had plans to rig the election by not transmitting the Polling Units’ results real time as promised, the INEC National Commissioner in charge of Publicity and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, quickly addressed journalists to dismiss the claim as patently false.

“Looking at the outcome of the presidential election held on February 25, 2023, it becomes clear that the INEC leadership had perfected a plot to hoodwink and deceive Nigerians and the international election observer missions, and others interested in the transition and democratisation process in Nigeria. The promise of a foolproof electoral system being put in place was a ruse, because in reality, the leadership of the INEC had mapped out crude and most audacious plans for disenfranchisement of millions of Nigerians and a scheme that would ensure that the votes cast were not only counted, but also totally disregarded,” he said.

The long term effect of the presidential electoral fraud of February 25 if not addressed as a matter of national emergency, according to the groups, include the entrenchment of voter apathy, as many Nigerians now believe that their votes do not count, and some are already destroying their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs); destruction of youth interest and participation in the electoral process, therby denying the country of its most productive and virile age-bracket in its political space; and entrenchment of the perception that crime pays, a disincentive to good governance/good citizenship.

The groups, therefore, charged the INEC to re-collate the polling units’ results that were originally counted at that level and uploaded in its portal and declare the real winner to avoid a situation where Nigerians may resort to actions that might jeopardize the peace of the nation.

“We must all in unison insist that the votes cast during the February 25 elections are declared as counted at the various Polling Units, and that the winner of the said elections is rightly declared as the President-elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” they stated.

Insisting that those who were compromised during the process must be prosecuted and punished to serve as deterrent to others, the groups said: “Sequel to the admission by the INEC Chairman that several INEC staff and some politicians colluded to compromise the electoral process, we call upon the law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies to, as a matter of urgency, apprehend, investigate and prosecute all individuals and entities, irrespective of position occupied inclusive of the INEC Chairman, who participated in thwarting the elections held on the February 25, 2023.”

The civil society groups making the call include PADDI Foundation, Youth for Human Rights International, Renaissance Group, Parent-Child Intervention Centre (PCIC), Connected Advocacy for Empowerment and Youth Development Inititaive, Foundation for Family Values & Health Orientation & Empowerment, Rural Renaissance Development Initiative, Rural Engagement and Development Foundation (REDFoundation), Foundation for Women Against Social Predators (WASOP), Community Agenda for Peace (CAP), Dynamic and Creative Youth for Change Initiative, Knowledge and Community Development Awareness Initiative (KCOMAI), Young Leadership Association of Nigeria, Youth Initiative on Alcohol and Drug Control, Hope Generation Next Network, North-East Youth Initiative for Development, Lawyers Unite for Democracy, Ideal Society Movement, Eagle Eye transparency and Integrity Initiative, Democrats Unite, Movement for Emancipation and Rights of the People (MERP), PO Support Network, Citizens Unite for Democracy and Convener Index.

Source: The Sun


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