By Abdallah el-Kurebe, Editor
#TrackNigeria: The North Central chapter of the Save Nigeria Democracy Group (SNDG) has described as ‘criminal farce’ the presidential, national assembly, governorship and house of assembly elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and vowed to challenge their validity.
Speaking at INEC office premises in Abuja after a mass rally in Makurdi, the zonal chairman of the Group, Emmanuel Soetan Dave said they were committed to ensuring that the outcome of the”sham exercise does not stand.”
Accusing the electoral commission of conniving with the presidency to give undue advantage to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Dave said his Group would call out a nationwide protest for Nigerians to show their disagreement to the whole world.
“What we got in the two rounds of elections was criminal lawlessness characterized by outright violence, misuse of government resources, militarization of the political space and targeted inflation of votes and now indiscriminate rejection of results of opposition swing states,” Dave said.
While calling on Nigerians to prepare for a long-drawn struggle for the reclamation and restoration of what he called “the stolen collective mandate of the people,” Dave called the “over-bloated integrity of President Buhari and leaders of the APC to question.
SNDG on Wednesday took their protest to the national headquarters of INEC to express their opposition to the spate of inconclusive elections declared by the commission.
The protesters said the results from the just concluded elections “did not reflect the true voting direction of Nigerians”.
As early as 9 am, the protesters arrived in their numbers at the Unity Fountain in Abuja, carrying different placards with inscriptions such as “The People’s mandate can not be stolen,” “Atiku will not congratulate Buhari,” “Prof.Yakubu must resign,” “Inconclusive election is a shame,” and “Atiku will get justice,” among many others.
While addressing the INEC representative, who came to receive the protesters, the leader of the group, Tijani Abdulmumuni, said it has become necessary at this point for all well meaning Nigerians to halt and take a critical review of the events that characterised the just concluded elections which he added portend danger to democracy in Nigeria.
Abdulmumini said INEC’s refusal to conclude the collation of results from select states gives credence to the allegation that certain elements are out to drag this country into chaos which must be rejected at all cost.
“This latest show of desperation has further strengthened earlier concerns of widespread voter suppression, targeted violence, militarisation of the political space and systematic inflation of figures that punctuated the presidential and National Assembly elections.
“It also heightens the fear of the dire consequences of the federal government muscling INEC and the nation’s security into turning blind eyes to obvious infractions and violations of the federal constitutional provisions and Electoral Act and the regulations/guidelines regulating the 2019 general election and went ahead to uphold and announce a tailored result that only serve the ruling APC,” he said.
The leader of the group said both the international and local observers have reported the bias in the use of the smart card reader machines.
He said that while INEC dutifully enforced the use of the card reader in the South-south, South-east and the North-central zones of the country, which are essentially opposition strongholds, it failed to do so in the North-west, North-east and the South-west which were estimated as the APC stronghold.
“We wish to place on record that the monumental electoral fraud and manipulation which have very negative implications on the credibility, transparency and integrity of the entire elections constitute a latent threat to our democratic development.
“Against all known rules of decency and fairness, the deliberate violations which include the widespread non-usage or selective enforcement of the use of smart card reader (SCR) machines are also an indictment in the sight of the international community,” he said.
Other infractions on electoral process listed by the group included the deliberate non-deployment of result form EC 8 to polling centres, the barricade by armed military personnel to deny the agents of opposition political parties access to collation centres, the recording of falsified figures and violent attacks at opposition strongholds.
“In the North-west, the deplorable use of battalions of underage almajiri was the order of most front-line states in addition to armed thugs unleashed on voters.
“The figures said to have been recorded in those troubled regions are as ridiculous as they are questionable, suspicious and unacceptable.
“It is therefore worrying, embarrassing and a glaring insult for such inflated figures to have been presented, accepted and declared as results from such states despite the abiding fear of a vicious banditry,” he said.
The protesters, who chanted solidarity songs, asked Nigerians to rise and reject the results and push for immediate redress.
“We declare that the results that eventually came out of the flawed exercise of 23 February did not reflect the true voting direction of Nigerians and are capable of setting a dangerous precedent and exposing democracy and our collective nationhood to danger if allowed to stand.
“We specifically call on the civil society, youth groups, the elders and leaders of various communities, and the international community to expose such monumental fraud, and to hold that President Buhari has woefully failed as a leader with genuine intentions and capacity to save our democracy and the future unity of the country.
“Finally, with this, we hereby reaffirm our total rejection of the entire exercise and the concocted results that emanated therefrom,” the protesters said.
While receiving the protesters on behalf of the commission, INEC’s Assistant Director of Security, Kelechi Madumere, commended the group for a peaceful exercise, assuring them the commission will do everything possible not to betray the trust Nigerians have in the commission.