PDP, APC squabble over polls’ credibility
Rights bodies flay elections in Kogi, Bayelsa, petition ICC
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday described the Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship elections as shameful, saying the polls have damaged Nigerians’ faith in democracy.
In a statement, the opposition party said: “The shameful elections conducted in Kogi and Bayelsa states have damaged the faith of Nigerians in a democratic order. Nevertheless, the PDP remains strong and united in the face of all odds. Nigeria is our nation and no individual or group can appropriate our collective sovereignty as a people at all times.
“Nigerians and the entire world watched in horror as the APC-led government trampled our democracy under foot with an utmost impunity that can only be obtainable in Hitler’s Germany and Samuel Doe’s Liberia, where the lives and rights of citizens meant nothing to suppressive power-mongers.
“Citizens agonized as APC-controlled security forces aided armed hoodlums to invade polling centres, shoot and kill innocent citizens, cart away ballot boxes, stuffed them with already thumb-printed ballot papers in favour of APC, after which results are allocated and handed over to a compromised
INEC to announce against the will of the people.
“It is distressing that under the President Buhari-led APC administration, votes no longer count; power and governance no longer derive from the people but from violence, manipulations and the barrel of the gun. Nigerians now ask; are we still in a democracy?
“With the outcome of the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections, Nigerians and the world have lost hope in our institutions of democracy and security system as presently constituted. They have completely lost hope in INEC under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, which has shown itself to be a repressive tool in the hands of dictatorial forces.
“As a party, we condole with the families of our compatriots that were killed in Kogi and Bayelsa states and prayed that God grant their souls eternal rest.“The shameful elections conducted in Kogi and Bayelsa states have damaged the faith of Nigerians in a democratic order. Nevertheless, the PDP remains strong and united in the face of all odds. Nigeria is our nation and no individual or group can appropriate our collective sovereignty as a people at all times.
“Our party will therefore continue to fully exert itself in upholding the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians despite the manipulations of the APC.“The PDP urges Nigerians to remain resilient and focused. Our party will, in due course, address Nigerians on the way forward in the overall quest to retrieve stolen mandates, rescue our nation from dictatorial forces and reinforce democratic practice in our country.”
But in a statement yesterday, the APC applauded the elections, saying; “In Kogi and Bayelsa States, we were certain of securing the majority votes for the two governorship seats and the Kogi West senatorial seat. “As expected, not being in the tradition of PDP to thrive under orderly and credible electoral process, they did their best to discredit the process. We are glad that the voting processes came to a successful end in Kogi and Bayelsa States.
“The party thanks security agencies and other officials who did their best to minimise the impact of the PDP thugs whose sole agenda was to create chaos and scare voters from coming out to vote. Of course, the PDP did not achieve their objective of winning through violence.”
Meanwhile, the elections have continued to draw criticisms over violence and intimidation by security operatives.The police confirmed three persons dead during the election in Kogi. Commissioner of Police, Akeem Busari, who made the disclosure to newsmen, said the command was still compiling its report on the poll, to ascertain the actual number of casualties. Busari also said 10 persons were arrested during the election.He said the three died in Lokoja when armed thugs invaded St. Luke Primary School, Adanakolo. He described the situation in the state as calm.
Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room said the Kogi State governorship and senatorial election was a major dent to Nigeria’s democratic process and called for its cancellation.It also called on INEC “to fully interrogate the election in Bayelsa State with view to identifying the high incidences of malpractice that took place and reflect the genuine vote of the people.”
Criticising the polls, former Kaduna State Governor and leader of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Balarabe Musa, said: “What do you expect from the results of the elections in the two states? The outcome is already known. There is no democracy in Nigeria.”
Also, rights group, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement, YIAGA AFRICA rejected the outcome of the governorship and senatorial elections in Kogi State. Addressing a press briefing in Abuja, Abdul Hussaini, the chairman of YIAGA’s Watching The Vote, said the people of Kogi were not given the opportunity to fully exercise their right to vote. “Therefore, the results of these elections, regardless of the outcome, cannot be said to reflect the preferences of voters in Kogi.”
Rights body, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) went further by petitioning the International Criminal Court (ICC), asking it to investigate persons behind violence in Bayelsa and Kogi States during the elections.
The petition dated November 16, 2019 was sent to Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, ICC Prosecutor.SERAP said: “The events in the Bayelsa and Kogi elections suggest criminal conduct within the jurisdiction of the ICC. If the results of the preliminary investigation suggest that further investigation is warranted, the ICC should work with Nigerian anti-corruption agencies on the matter. Election-related corruption and violence are not just minor infractions, they suggest serious crimes against Nigerians, in particular, crimes against humanity.”
International observers, Diplomatic Watch, also expressed alarm over reports of violence and intimidation in both states.The Watch consists of teams deployed from Austria, European Union Delegation, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States.
The PDP candidate in the Kogi State election rejected the poll, accusing the police of colluding with officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to undermine the will of the people.Describing the results released by INEC as sham and murder of democracy, Musa Wada urged all lovers of fairness to join hands with the PDP in condemning the charade.
Flanked by his running mate, Sam Aro, during a press conference in Lokoja, Wada decried the militarisation of the election, even as he accused security agents of colluding with the All Progressives Congress (APC) to intimidate voters.
He said the exercise was daylight robbery, alleging that results were doctored for the APC. INEC should not have conducted the election if it knew it would not reflect the wish of Kogi people, he said.“Imagine, Okene LGA, which used to return 40,000 votes in past elections suddenly brought out 112,000 votes while her neighbour, Okehi, also brought in 64,000; figures that would be more than the rest of the local governments in the state.
“It is the insincerity of the APC that has made the whole process a sham. It is not about Wada but of the suffering masses of the state. I am pained for the people who would continue to suffer for another four years.”
On whether he could get justice at the courts, Wada said: “It is common knowledge how all the institutions have been bastardised by the APC government. However, I have to exhaust all legal means to get redress.”
“You can see that Lokoja, the state capital, which was agog yesterday is a shadow of itself as nobody is celebrating. The results are not the true representation of what happened on the field.
“We were prepared for the election. We campaigned across all the local government areas. But how can one confront a government with all the apparatus of cohesion? Imagine security agents using helicopters to teargas voters. It happened in Ganaja. Some people were shot at from the helicopter. In fact, two persons lost their lives.”
The candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mrs. Natasha Akpoti, also rejected the results of the poll, calling on INEC to cancel the election in Kogi Central Senatorial District and other parts of Lokoja, and order a rerun.In a petition to INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Akpoti claimed election did not hold in 780 polling units in Kogi Central.
“The APC-led thugs were shooting at voters, which resulted in the death of voters. The thugs, in most cases, were shielded by security agents who were supposed to provide security for the citizenry.“What happened in Kogi Central and other parts of the state is a far cry from a credible election. Ballot boxes were destroyed and burnt in Okene, Adavi, Ajaokuta, Ogori Magongo and Okehi Local Government Areas and other parts of the state.
“SDP agents were chased away from various polling units of Kogi Central. In some polling units, SDP agents were tied with ropes by APC thugs. In Okene Local Government, our agents were not even allowed to come near the polling units, as APC thugs were seen brandishing guns and announcing to voters not to come and vote unless they were to only vote APC.”
Also, the Bello/Onoja Governorship Campaign Council yesterday called on the PDP to shelve its alleged plan to spread falsehood. It urged the opposition party to await the conclusion of the election process, which it described as “free, fair and peaceful.”
According to a statement by Kingsley Fanwo, chairman of APC Media and Publicity Committee, the party said it had credible intelligence that “the leadership of the PDP has directed the national publicity secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, to quickly address a press conference, to condemn an ongoing process that has been adjudged free, fair, credible and peaceful, just because they are seeing the handwriting of people’s rejection on the wall.”
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