The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has threatened to sue officials of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) if they continue to malign his character in the media.
The INEC boss’s warning follows demand by the PDP yesterday for his resignation.
The party accused the INEC chairman of violating the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 as well as the Commission’s regulations, guidelines and manual issued for the February 25 presidential and parliamentary elections.
The PDP also called for the investigation of Prof Yakubu by the Police, Department of State Services (DSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged electoral offences.
Addressing a media conference in Abuja on Friday, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said the INEC chairman subverted the will of the Nigerian people.
Ologunagba accused the INEC under Yakubu of compromising the integrity of the polls by deliberately sabotaging the uploading and transmission of results directly from the polling units thereby giving room for criminal mutilation of poll results.
Ologunagba said: “From all indications, the INEC under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu was compromised to rig the election by brazenly violating the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 as well as INEC’s Regulations, Guidelines and Manual issued for the election.
“It is also obvious that the Commission under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu deliberately sabotaged the uploading and transmission of results directly from the Polling Units to give room for the criminal mutilation, alteration and switching of election results across the nation in favour of the APC as now abundantly exposed in the pictorial and video evidence of compromised results sheets in many parts of the country.
“Several evidence abounds in states across the six geo-political zones of the country where winning figures lawfully scored by the PDP were switched in favour of the APC; where result sheets from polling centres won by the PDP were destroyed and replaced with fake result sheets in which APC was allocated unearned winning figures.
“This further explains why the INEC chairman rushed to announce and declare manipulated results that were not transmitted directly from the polling units to INEC’s server/website and ignored the objections and complaints raised during the collation of results in deliberate violation of the provisions of Section 64 (4) (a) and (b), 64 (6) (a)-(d), and 65 (1) (c) of the Electoral Act 2022.
“For emphasis, while Section 64 (4) (a) and (b) expressly require the INEC chairman as the Chief Returning Officer to announce only results that were transmitted directly from the polling units, Sections 64 (6) (a)-(d) and 65 (1) (c) compel INEC, in the case of disputes, complaints or objections regarding a collated result or the result of an election from any polling unit, to take steps including the review of collation where they are made contrary to the provisions of the Law, Regulations, Guidelines and Manual issued for the election.
“By flagrantly violating these provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 as well as INEC’s Regulations, Guidelines and Manual for the election, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu is not only culpable of serious electoral offence but also betrayed, thrashed and threw overboard the trust, confidence and hope Nigerians reposed in him and the electoral commission to deliver a free, fair and credible election in the country.”
The PDP said the continuing stay of Prof Yakubu in office as INEC chairman was vexatious and injurious to the integrity of the electoral body and an unpardonable assault to the credibility of the electoral process, the sensibility of Nigerians and the international community.
It added that Yakubu’s stay in office was capable of paving the way for the suppression, tampering and destruction of critical evidence required to further expose infractions and violations by the commission at the Presidential Election Tribunal.
“This fear is evidenced by the desperation by INEC to reconfigure the BVAS devices to erase vital data contained therein.
“Consequently, the PDP demands that the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu immediately step down from office, having abused the confidence and dashed the hope of millions of Nigerians as well as political parties and the international community for a free, fair and credible election.
“Nigerians no longer have faith in Prof. Mahmood Yakubu’s capacity and integrity to manage a democracy institution as sensitive as INEC.
“Prof. Mahmood Yakubu’s exit as chairman of INEC will be the first step towards sanitising the electoral commission and restoring the confidence of Nigerians especially as the nation prepares for the rescheduled March 18, 2023 governorship and state assembly elections.
“Furthermore, the PDP demands that the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of the Directorate of State Services (DSS) immediately commence investigations into the electoral violations and manipulations by INEC with a view to prosecuting Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and other officials of the Commission for electoral offences.
“In the same vein the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should open investigation into allegations that certain top officials of INEC were heavily compromised financially to manipulate the electoral process.
“The PDP notes the reports of various international bodies in disapproval of actions by the leadership of INEC in undermining democracy in the conduct of the February 25, 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections,” it added.
The INEC chairman in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, said the PDP should go to court and present the bagful of evidence it claims to have rather than subjecting the process to a media trial.
He said; “The latest call by the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, just like it did previously for the resignation of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC is misplaced.
Interestingly, the PDP did not provide any convincing evidence to back up all the spurious allegations it listed as Prof. Yakubu’s ‘infractions’.
“To be sure, the PDP failed to provide any evidence to substantiate the allegations of Yakubu’s ‘brazen violation of the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, INEC’s Regulations and Guidelines, and criminal manipulation and alteration of election results’.
“The PDP also did not give the evidence to prove its claims that Prof. Yakubu ‘sabotaged the uploading and transmission of results from polling units.’
“Besides, the ‘several evidences’ that the PDP claimed ‘abound in the six geo-political zones of the country where winning figures scored by the PDP were switched in favour of the APC’ were also not laid bare.
“To be sure, the Commission does not rig elections. Rather, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System BVAS has, since its introduction, among other innovations, ensured the integrity of the electoral process by ensuring that only properly registered voters are allowed to vote on Election Day.
“It is common knowledge that the PDP has rejected the outcome of the presidential election and has vowed to challenge it in court.
“The path of honour for the party, therefore, is to pursue its case in court, armed with all the evidences at its disposal and wait for the court’s decision.
“But going about canvassing the same issues the party intends to plead in court on the pages of newspapers and calling for the resignation of the INEC Chairman is like putting the cart before the horse.
“More importantly, the PDP is hereby reminded that making libelous allegations against the person of the INEC Chairman is actionable. The party should henceforth desist from the practice”.
Meanwhile, the National Publicity Secretary of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Agbo Major, said the call for the INEC chairman’s resignation does not make sense to the party at this point in time.
He said that removing the INEC chairman in the middle of the electoral process would amount to shifting the goal post in the middle of the game, adding that what Nigerians should do at this moment was to put their acts together and ensure that what happened on the 25th of February is not allowed to happen again.
He said “Most times, we don’t like commenting on issues like that. But for whatever it is, I don’t think that call is the right thing to do. Like I have always said, you don’t shift the goal post at the middle of the game.
“INEC may have made its mistakes, but removing its head now and at a time we are just a few days away from the next round of elections does not make any sense to us. You can canvass for this after the elections have been concluded and certainly not now.
“The only thing we need to do as Nigerians is to put our eyes on the ground and ensure that what happened on the 25th of February is not allowed to happen”.
Speaking in the same vein, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Oye said the INEC boss should be allow to conduct the entire election before calling for his resignation.
While reacting to the development in a chat with our correspondent, Oye said he would not make further comments on the call for Yakubu’s resignation until the next election is conducted.