By Lateef Adegbite
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu popular, Jagaban, a former governor of Lagos state and Nigerian President –elect, as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, under the Chairmanship of Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor, who should be preparing to hit the ground running on May 29, 2023, after being sworn in by justice Olukayode Ariwola, appears to be at cross road.
The former Lagos state governor who do not want to be embarrassed by the duo of Atiku Abubakar, a one- time Nigeria Vice President and Presidential Candidate of the Opposition People’s party, PDP and Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra state and the flag bearer of the Labour Party, LP, have headed to Court to challenge the 2023, Presidential election process to avoid giving room to the duo to nullify his election.
He has sought the Court of Appeal order in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, ‘’to inspect , scan and make photocopies of some of the electoral materials including the BVAS, deployed during the Presidential and National Assembly elections’, which he had said will enable him to prepare his defencce against the petitions to the Presidential Election Court to nullify his election’’.
The question on the lips of most people was: why should he head to Court, when INEC Chairman, who is the country’s Chief Electoral officer, has declared him the President -elect, for polling 8,794,726 votes to Akiku of the PDP’s 6,984,520 votes and Obi, the LP Candidate’s 6, 101,533 votes and issued him and Kashim Shettima, a former governor of Borno state and the Vice President-elect, the Certificate of Return.
Obi, the LP Candidate, has been given the go- ahead by an FCT, based Court of Appeal ‘’to inspect the Bimodal Accreditation Voters System, BVAS, and sensitive materials deployed by the Electoral umpire on Saturday, February 25, 2023 , was said to have been denied to do so by INEC.
But the Commission, could not allow the party inspect the electoral materials including the BVAS, deployed during the election, as it was said to have approached the Court of Appeal at the FCT, ‘’ to be allowed to configure all the BVAS, machines that was deployed in the 176,000 polling units for the Presidential poll’’, which the former Anambra state governor’s legal team had said should not be granted by the Court for fear of the Commission tampering with the information on the BVAS.
The Commission was said to have also told those that cares to listen that the Appeal Court that granting the request by Obi and the LP, by the Court to inspect all the sensitive materials, including the BVAS, deployed during the last Presidential and National Assembly elections would affect its preparations for the Saturday, March 11, 2023, governorship and state Assembly elections.
. Despite the reasons that had been given by the electoral body for not allowing Obi and his party, to inspect all the materials deployed during the elections, the LP, Leadership had said that the planned reconfiguring of the BVAS, was basically ‘’to extract data embedded in the electronic device, which represent the actual results from the polling units’’.
It was not surprising why the LP flag bearer was personally in Court with his legal team no Wednesday, March 7, 2023 over the matter. He has made it clear to his followers, tagged Obidients, in political circles, that he remain ‘’more committed and would give more attention to his mission to retrieve his mandate ‘’
Onyebuchi IKeazu, , Counsel for the LP, Flag bearer, may have put fears on INEC and Tinubu’s Camp, when he said that the team , needs a physical inspection of the sensitive materials and the BVAS, that were deployed by the INEC, during the Presidential and National Assembly election to enable them carry out a forensic examination and to know why the Commission could not upload the results from the polling units to itsReV.
The former Anambra state governor was said to have told the Obidients that why the party pursue due process and defer to the Rule of Law, they should vote for Gbadebo Rhodes- Vavour, the party Candidate in Lagos , Chijoke Edeoga, Enugu, Patrick Dakum, Plateau , Alex Otti, Abia, Ken Pela, in Delta and Ibrahim Mshelia, Borno, amongst others.He would want Obidients ‘’to vote for Candidates with Competence, Character, capacity and compassion’’.
Officials of the PDP, may felt the same way as the Obi, of the LP. Debo Olunagba, the party National Publicity Secretary, may have spoken the mind of Senator Iyorchia Ayu, the Chairman, when he alleged that the electoral body was determined on ‘’destroying evidence of rigging the February 25, 2023, Presidential election in favour of Tinubu, the APC, Candidate.
Olagunagba, the PDP, spokesperson, had said that the INEC, plan to reconfigure the BVAS technology, after the February 25, 2023, Presidential election was basically to frustrate the desire of Nigerians to get redress through the Court process since their vote count not count as promised by the Commission prior to the election.
He was emphatic hat that he INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu superintended over the manipulation of the results of the Presidential election and hurriedly announced Tinubu, the APC, Candidate as the winner, despite widespread outcry and complain of malpractices and violation of the Electoral Act provisions, 2022, by officials of the Commission at the polling units, Ward, Local Government and state levels.
Indeed, the call by the Sokoto and Niger states Chapter of the PDP for the cancellation of the February 25, 2023, Presidential polls, in their respective state, over alleged Compromise of the BVAS, speaks volume. There were indications that some of the BVAS, machines were not used in most polling units in the two states despiet the huge amount the government had made available to the Commission to procure the electronic devices. A source confirmed that N300 billion was released by the government to the Commission to procure the BVAS and other sensitive materials used for the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Tanko Beji, a Lawyer and PDP, Chairman, Niger, Ibrahim Babangida, a retired Army General and former Nigerian military President , home state , may have shocked Nigerians when he revealed that the BVAS machines, Voter Registers, electoral materials, Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, and adhoc staff of INEC, and some Youth Corps members engaged by the Commission to operate the BVAS, devices, were taken to the APC situation room in Bosso Local government Area where they were said to have been compromised. This is the situation in Niger, was the same many other states of the Federation.
Acting on security reports, Prof. Yakubu, the INEC, boss, may have supended Nura Ali, the Sokoto state , Resident Electoral Commissioner , and asked him to stay away from the Comission’s office in the Caliphate state till further notice, over alleged allegations of Compromise and negligence of duty.
The staff were said to have accused him of highhandedness, and thus abandoned him to do all the technical job alone, forcing him to rely solely on the adhoc staff to shoulder the burden of conducting the Last Presidential election which they were said to have failed to do as they played into the hand of the APC foot soldiers who manipulated the BVAS used for the election to their own advantage.
Until the INEC helmsman took the decision to suspend the Sokoto REC, he has asked all the RECs , across the 36 states of the Federation and FCT, based information available to him from the states to sack all staff found to be negligent in their duty, whether they are regular or adhoc staff, including Collation and Returning Officers’’.
He was said to have asked the RECs ‘’to immediately initiate disciplinary action where prima facie evidence of wrong doing has been established’’, meaning that there was an established wrong doing against the Sokoto REC, which may have led to his suspension that may lead to his sack after the ongoing investigation on him might have been completed.
The PDP Leadership in the state had said that Atiku, the party flag bearer had emerged winner of the Saturday, Presidential election in the state with 288,679 votes to Tinubu, the APC,Candidate , who polled 285,444 votes and Obi of the 6,568 votes . But INEC, had declared Tinubu of the APC, the winner of the Presidential election in the north western state with 101,608 votes to Atiku’s 98,080, meaning that the original result as captured in and the BVAS, was discarded.
Many believe that the Sokoto REC, may have been suspended from office to avoid a repeat of what happened during the Presidential election where there was massive rigging to repeat self in the March 11, 2023, governorship and state Assembly elections.