By Our Reporter
Barely two weeks after the declaration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, popula Jagaban, a former governor of Lagos state and the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, Presidential Candidate, for the February 25, 2023, Presidential election, by Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor and Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for polling 8,794,793 votes , the Commission which had been talking tough to frustrate the Labour Party , LP, and Peter Obi, its Presidential Candidate, appears to have soft pedaled.
The Electoral umpire which had repeatedly boasted that it won’t abdicate its core responsibility as regulator of Political parties to aggrieved parties is now singing a different tune. The Commission had reeled out figures showing that during the just concluded Presidential election the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in conjunction with Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President during Olusegun Obasanjo’s Administration and the party Flag bearer, ha deployed a total of 176,588 polling agents and the APC, 176,223 , polling agents , across the country.
Festus Okoye, the Commision’s National Commissioner, Information and Vter’s Education, who had appeared on a recent Channels Television Programme, had said that Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former governor of Kano state and Candidate of the New Nigeria’s People’s Party, NNPP, and his party, had deployed 176,200 polling agents to Obi while the LP had 134,874 polling agents.
The INEC, spokesperson at the instance of the National Chairman may have released the figures, of each party’s polling agents, across the country, to prove a point that the former Anambra state governor has no basis to claim that he won the just concluded Presidential election.
Not bothered by the figures rolled out by INEC, to win public support and force Obi, the LP, Candidate to drop his legal battle against the Commission and the President-elect, the former Anambra state governor who had appeared in a Channel programme, recently has given his words that he is ‘’challenging both the process of INEC and its declaration of Tinubu, the APC, Presidential Candidate, as the President –elect’’.
Prof Yakubu, the electoral umpire boss, may have known that there is fire on the mountain as the LP, legal team had visited him at the Commission’s Headquarters in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT where they had a closed door meeting. The INEC Chairman, who was initially reluctant to allow the party inspect the sensitive electoral materials and the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System , BVAS, used during the Presidential and National Assembly elections, as ordered by an Abuja based Court of Appeal , was said to have assured the party legal team of the Commission’s readiness ‘’to provide all the documents needed to prosecute its case at the Presidential election tribunal’’.
He was said to have told the LP, Legal team, that ‘’documents available at the Headquarters will be given to them immediately’’. He was said to have kept to his words. Given the seriousness of the case, the INEC boss, was said to have held a meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, on Monday, March 13, 2023.
The INEC Management team an RECs at the meeting were said to have discussed how other documents at the state level which have not yet been made available to the Headquarters to start the process of inspection of the INEC sensitive materials and BVAS, use in the last elections by the aggrieved LP , to be made available.The INEC Leadership may have changed its hardline position against the LP that there is trouble ahead.as he may have read the handwriting on the wall that there is trouble ahead. Yunusa Tanko, the LP, spokesperson, HAD threatened that they will to call out the party supporters, to march to the Commission’s offices nationwide in an Non-violent protest which is allowed by Law.
Recall that Tinubu, the President-elect , who has been asked by Pa Ayo Adebajo, the Afenifere , a Yoruba, socio-political Organisation , to return the Certificate of Return , issued him by INEC, as he never won the Presidential election.
He was scheduled to meet the APC, Senators’- elect and members of the House of Representatives- elect, at the Aso Rock Vila, last Monday, alongside the party Leadership, but failed to show up. He was said to have sent, Kashim Shettima, a former governor of Borno state and the Vice President –elect to meet with the newly elected National Assembly Lawmakers, in conjunction with the party National Executive Council, NEC. The former Lagos state, who had also approached the Court of Appeal, to be issued orders to inspect the electoral materials and BVAS, used during the elections, may have occupied himself with the Legal matters.
Already, the LP , Legal team, has written the INEC Chairman , to notify him of the Court order compelling the Commission to upload results electronically from polling units in real time. Aware of the implications of not obeying the Court order, the Commission had said that ‘’it will allow wise counsel to prevail in compliance with the compelling orders of the Court as contained in its judgment’’.
For the conduct of the governorship and state Assembly elections earlier scheduled for March 11, 20233 and later postponed to March 18, 2023, the Court was said to have ordered INEC, to engage the services of non-partisan independent , competent and reliable logistic entities or companies for the distribution of electoral materials and personnel I Lagos, home state of Tnubu, the Presdent –elect.
Until Justice P.O. Lifu, passed the Judgment, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court in Lagos, has granted the LP, sekeing an order to bar INEC, from using Musliu Akinsanya, popular, MC Oluomo, Chairman of Lagos arks and Garages, from distributing electoral mateials in the state .
The party had sought a Court order to bar Oluomo from participating in the distribution of electoral materials in the state.country’s Commercial nerve centre. The Court had acceded to the request of the LP, to restrain INEC, from engaging the services of Oluomo, known in political circles in the state as one of Tinubu’s reliable foot soldiers, to distribute election materials to avoid doing APC’s bidding and to create a level playing field for all the parties governor ship and State Assembly Candidates in the south western state.
Perhaps, to ensure that the Court order is fully complied with in the upcoming governorship and state Assembly elections in the state, Justice Lifu Judgment was said to have been copied Olusegun Agbaje, the state REC. Obidients , as Obi supporters are called , expect what happened during the Presidential, where the LP, had clinched Lagos, during the Presidential election , to repeat itself in the governor a and state Assemblly elections on March 18, 2023, to tell Tinubu, the President –elect, that Lagos is not his exclusive preserve to determine who becomes the governor at every election. Bukunor Akerele, Tinu’s , Deputy, when he was governor of the state and the Leadership of Afenifere, were said to have thrown their weiht behind Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, the LP, governorship Candidate in the state for the March 18, 2023, election. The 40 year-old, who is from a family of Lawyers, said his life is under threats and several assassination attempts made on his life by political thugs.