Protests in Abuja over issuance of certificate of return to Buhari
• ‘Atiku must reclaim mandate given to him by Nigerians’
• PDP files petition against president’s victory today
• Saraki, Dogara, govs absent from caucus meeting
• APC vows to ‘recover stolen votes’ in Akwa Ibom
Members of a group known as Occupy Nigeria yesterday protested at the Unity Fountain, Abuja. They demanded that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) reverse the issuance of a certificate of return to President Muhammadu Buhari who was declared the winner of the recent presidential election.The protesters alleged that assessment by observers on ground during the election revealed that card readers were not used at all in some states.
The coalition of over 50 civil society organisations and citizens said the observers’ report showed that votes were merely allotted in many parts of the Northwest and Northeast.According to the convener of the group, Idris Usman, it is an insult to the Nigerian people that INEC would allow an election in which voters were intimidated, maimed and even killed to stand. He called for due process to be followed in ensuring that the vote of every Nigerian counts in the 2019 presidential election.
“We’ve done a petition to INEC. There has never been a time when a decision was reversed. Despite that, what we are saying is that this decision did not settle well with the people.“Where card readers were not used in the North, let card readers be used, anybody can win but let the proper thing be done. In Osun gubernatorial, no leader was announced till the process was concluded, so why was INEC in such a hurry to announce the result of the 2019 presidential election?” Usman queried.
He condemned the use of military on the day of election, saying the presence of soldiers during the polls violated the law.The convener said the protest by the group would continue for four hours every day until Friday, March 8, 2019 and if the electoral body failed to yield to the petition of the group, it would occupy the INEC headquarters in Abuja.
In its demands, the group stated that voting must be conducted for the five million disenfranchised Nigerians, which is the population size of several countries. They said that in the spirit of transparency, INEC must open its back end servers to stakeholders.
Besides, the group urged the Federal Government to withdraw all military personnel in the South-South and South East immediately, adding that the perpetrators of violence in the Niger Delta be brought to book.Occupy Nigeria also asked that the thugs who harassed voters and fellow Nigerians in Lagos be made to account for their crime.
In a statement earlier released, Occupy Nigeria urged the citizens to rise up and take back the country from those who wish to hold it back, saying the nation was under attack with the future generations being at risk.Also, a group of concerned Nigerians called Better Nigeria Group (BNG) threatened yesterday to sue the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, if he failed to challenge the outcome of the presidential election.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, the spokesman for the group, Mr. Dickson Iroegbu, alleged that the irregularities in the presidential election should not be allowed to stand for the sake of future generations.Members of the BNG who wore black clothes to the press conference said they were mourning the loss of lives occasioned by the acts of brigandage and violence that characterised the election.
The group claimed that “the outcome of the presidential election which took place on the 23rd February, 2019, does not reflect the choice and the mandate of Nigerians. The spate of deliberate irregularities aimed at tilting the results toward the incumbent and the candidate of the APC and the subsequent declaration of victory for the same candidate is an assault on our democracy.
“This brazen impunity should not be allowed to stand unchallenged, otherwise, amongst other things, our democracy will be dead forever. The electoral process is the beacon of democracy and remains so. Elections must not only be credible, but must be seen as credible. The sham of an election which took place on the said date and the subsequent declaration leaves so much to wonder about credibility,” it stressed.
Also, a PDP chieftain and chairman of Deservation.Org/Project774forAtiku2019, Dr. Sani Adamu Bello, threatened to sue Atiku for breach of trust and violating the trust reposed in him by millions of Nigerians should he reverse his decision to go to court and reclaim the mandate freely given to him by voters in the February 23, 2019 polls.Adamu was reacting to the visit of the Abdulsalami Abubakar-led peace committee which is allegedly putting pressure on Atiku to accept the result of the presidential election and concede victory to Buhari.
“As our democracy progresses, in 2015, the incumbent president was defeated by the opposition candidate and so, President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP handed over to Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. In 2019, Atiku clearly won the election but was denied by INEC and the incumbent President Buhari.”He said that those asking Atiku not to go to court were not doing Nigerians any favour because over 14 million Nigerians who voted him would be disenchanted and the boundaries of democracy limited.
“I have been mandated by my organisation to give a one week ultimatum to the ‘president-elect’ to go and reclaim the mandate freely given to him or we will take legal action against him,” Adamu stated.The groups staged the protests yesterday as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) declared that its legal team would file a petition against the re-election of President Buhari today.
The National chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, who disclosed this at the expanded national caucus meeting of the party in Abuja, said the resort to the court was largely informed by what he called overwhelming rigging of the poll by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Secondus, who alleged that INEC officials were intimidated to carry out the bidding of the ruling APC, flayed the alleged Buhari-led government’s use of the military to harass the electorate in some parts of the country in the course of the elections.“Nothing will make us waver in the pursuit of justice. The decision to go to court has been finalised and the process has begun. We will file our petition today (Monday) or tomorrow (Tuesday). No matter what anyone will do or what the APC will say, we will seek justice to the highest court of the land.
“What happened during this election has never happened in the history of this country. They are celebrating criminality, they are celebrating evil. Our leaders are not talking and if you don’t speak against evil, it will consume everybody. The National Peace Committee is not saying anything.“INEC and its ad-hoc staff were intimidated and everyone is quiet. If nothing is done, we will nosedive and go deeper and deeper in this situation we have found ourselves.
“No matter the propaganda of APC, we will seek justice till the last drop of our blood. We believe justice will be done and God almighty will give justice,” the PDP chairman said.
Those in attendance at the PDP’s expanded caucus meeting included Atiku; Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Senator Dino Melaye; Senator Philip Aduda; former deputy Senate president, Ibrahim Mantu; PDP Board of Trustees chairman, Wali Jibril; former governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada and other members of the PDP national working committee.
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; running mate to Atiku, Peter Obi and all the governors of the PDP-controlled states were absent . Meanwhile, President Buhari has decried what he considered as the robbery of the votes of Akwa Ibom people during the presidential and National Assembly elections, assuring his supporters that they would be reclaimed.He made the claim yesterday in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State during a town hall meeting to thank the people for casting their votes for the APC.
Buhari, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, encouraged the people to defend their votes during the governorship and House of Assembly elections.He stated that it was not possible for Senator Godswill Akpabio to have lost the elections, alleging that INEC robbed him and his party of victory, and that all the wrongs that were allegedly done during the elections would be addressed.
“What happened on the 23rd of February was robbery. The votes of the people were stolen but we are not deterred. The president sent me to thank you today. We are going to make sure that everything that was stolen on the 23rd February is restored. “It is not possible that Akpabio lost. We are in no doubt that Akpabio is the elected senator of Akwa Ibom North West senatorial district. I and Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of APC have been in the opposition for long and we cannot be defeated anymore.
“Everyone of you should go out to vote on Saturday and defend your votes. We cannot be cheated; not only you but tell your neighbours to vote for Obong Nsima Ekere and all APC candidates. Wait for your votes to be counted. It is the duty of the Federal Government to provide security and we will do that. We will recover every one of our votes,” Osinbajo said. Oshiomhole told the gathering that the party was not in the state to lament but to thank the people for doing their jobs and voting President Buhari. He alleged that INEC colluded with some of the electoral officers to deny the state of its electoral victory on February 23, even though the people voted for the party.