Friday, April 22, 2011

Nigerian Opposition Says Electoral Commission Allowed Jonathan to Win

INEC helped PDP to win, says CPC

Election was systematically rigged, ACN alleges

They are bad losers, ruling party declares

Courtesy of the Nigerian Guardian

AS it was in previous presidential elections, the winner of the April 16, 2011 polls, would finally be determined by the Supreme Court.

The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), whose presidential candidate, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari lost to President Goodluck Jonathan, says it is heading for the court to seek a judicial review of the conduct of the exercise.

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has also accused the PDP of colluding with security agents to cook figures and fraudulently win election.

According to the party’s Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed: ‘’An analysis of the results put out by INEC itself has shown a troubling pattern of clear manipulation. Everywhere the PDP perceived it was strong, it came out with incredibly high numbers of voter in his favour. Conversely, anywhere the opposition was perceived to be strong, the opposition`s margin of victory was unreasonably low.

‘’A few examples will suffice: In the South-South and South-East, where President Jonathan is believed to have strong support, the average turnout was 67 per cent each of registered voters, compared to 32 per cent for the South-West where he is believed to have a strong opposition. In the North-West and North-East, which is considered a bastion of opposition in the north, the average turnout of registered voters was 54 per cent.

‘’And whereas high voter turnout was recorded in states perceived to be sympathetic to President Jonathan in the different geopolitical zones (Bayelsa in South-South 85 per cent, Imo in South-East 84 per cent, and Plateau in North-Central (62 per cent), the opposite was the case for areas where the opposition, was believed to be strong. Even in Katsina, Buhari’s hometown, the turnout was a paltry 52 per cent! Ditto for Kano (53 per cent); Sokoto (40 per cent) and Zamfara (51 per cent).

‘’It is also instructive that even though Edo state is in the South-South, the turnout was only 37 per cent, apparently since the state was not believed - by the figure cooks - to be sympathetic to President Jonathan, being controlled by the ACN. The turnout figures for the South-West are also revealing: Lagos (31.8 per cent); Ogun (28 per cent); Osun (39 per cent) and Oyo (33 per cent).

Also, while the margin of victory for the PDP in the South-South is 98 per cent and for the South-East 98.9 per cent, the highest margin of victory for the CPC in the North-West, where Buhari comes from, is 55.8 per cent,’’ ACN said

The party said when the ballot papers are subjected to forensic analysis, as they definitely will, the world will realise that what appeared to be free and fair election at the polling units was a mere fa├žade.

It also slammed the election observers for rushing to tell the world that the whole election process was free, fair and credible, whereas they were busy playing to the gallery in urban centres while the PDP colluded with INEC and security officials in the hinterland to concoct figures that are only real in their imagination.

The CPC Chairman, Prince Tony Momoh, said in Abuja yesterday that the party has overwhelming evidence to prove that the electoral umpire rigged the election for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Momoh further disclosed that the CPC had notified the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of its resolve to contest the process and outcome of the polls.

The CPC’s allegation of rigging against INEC and the PDP, was immediately refuted by the ruling party’s Acting National Chairman, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed, who challenged Buhari to go ahead and tender his evidence of fraud in the election.

At a press conference at the PDP national secretariat in Abuja yesterday, Mohammed said Buhari’s complaint is the usual attitude of the average Nigerian politician, who hardly accepts defeat.

The presidential election was adjudged to be free and fair by both local and international observers, who monitored the polls.

Whenever Buhari approaches the court, he would only be threading a familiar terrain. In the 2007 election, which he lost to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the former head of state, who was All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) candidate, headed for the court but lost as Yar’Adua’s election was upheld by the apex court.

During the Second Republic in 1979, Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) lost to Alhaji Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). Awolowo’s legal action produced the historic 2/3 of 19 states debacle and controversial decision of the apex court.

Also yesterday, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) described the presidential election “as the most systematically rigged election in Nigeria’s history,” and warned against “any attempt to repeat such malfeasance in Tuesday’s governorship/state Houses of Assembly poll.

‘’The PDP has been boasting that it will clinch the governorship election in Lagos and elsewhere on the strength of the result of the presidential election, but we must warn strongly that a repeat of the crooked strategy that spewed out those cooked figures will have consequences that no one has yet imagined,’’ ACN said in a statement issued in Ilorin by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

The CPC, which spoke on the polls in Abuja, said INEC printed ballot papers in Nigeria and distributed them to the PDP to execute its rigging plan.

Momoh disclosed that it had formally notified INEC of its resolve to challenge the results of the presidential election.

He told journalists that the CPC National Executive Committee (NEC), which met on Wednesday, after reviewing all the processes and violations that trailed the presidential election resolved to notify INEC of its decision to challenge the result at the law court.

Momoh, who regretted that INEC officials refused to look into the party’s complains contained in its letter to the commission’s Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, documenting all the abuses of ballot papers and boxes, before the results were announced, stated that based on the credible information the party received from states like Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, among others, CPC had to reject results from those states. He claimed that they were highly manipulated in favour of the PDP.

The CPC boss also said despite informing Nigerians that electoral materials were printed outside the country, INEC went on to contract the printing, freighting and distribution of election materials to members of the PDP, stressing that sensitive materials of such nature should not only be carefully handled but should be seen to be so.

But the PDP said: “They are complaining because it is the nature of Nigerian politician to complain when he loses election and I will call on all politicians to be patriotic, and to give Nigeria some credit that this time around, we got it right. It is our duty as patriotic Nigerians to give credit where credit is due. The President has done very well to allow free hand and to provide all facilities required by INEC. The commission has done well to allow people to come to the polling stations to watch the process from the beginning to the end and to get the results pasted at the polling stations because an election is won and lost at the polling station. This election has been free and fair at the polling stations. Where else could it be rigged?

“We challenge Buhari or any party to bring evidence of rigging and take it to the tribunal or bring it to the press for publication. It is very unbecoming for politicians to make allegations without an iota of truth and flash it all over the newspapers to tarnish the image of Nigeria. It is time Nigerians started applauding Nigeria so that outsiders will also start seeing Nigeria as a nation worthy of respect,’’ Mohammed said.

He said the PDP was not initially comfortable with INEC’s arrangement for the elections but President Jonathan insisted on giving INEC the atmosphere it required for a free and fair election. He maintained that the elections so far conducted by the commission had been free, fair and credible and the international community confirmed that.

He, therefore, wondered why the opposition should start complaining only when the results were released.

“Right from day one, INEC has bent over backward to accommodate all the wishes of the opposition. We were complaining against that but were constrained to follow the dictates of INEC. We went to the elections that we believed we were at a disadvantage because the arrangement was not what we wished. But our President insisted on giving INEC a free hand to conduct the elections. The election was conducted at the polling stations and that is where you expect any irregularities to be detected. At that point, all political parties, including the CPC were praising Jega and INEC for doing very good election, for making very good arrangement. The collations were done at the state level. That is where you expect if there is any irregularity to get contention from the opposition parties. There was no complaint. They were busy praising INEC, even as we said we would not praise INEC until we see their final performance.

“Now, when the results came and they lost, that is when they realised that they had to complain, and the complaints started coming right here on television at the INEC headquarters. We all saw it. We have to be responsible politicians and admit that when something is done well, it is done well.

“If you look at the newspapers, the mandate of Jonathan came from the six geo-political zones of this country. He got the 25 per cent, which is required by the constitution in 32 of the 36 states of the federation, which is overwhelming. Buhari, who was claiming rigging could get 25 per cent in only 17 states while Ribadu got only two states.’’

Mohammed condemned the violence that erupted in some parts of the country after the presidential election and declared that such acts of violence would not intimidate PDP supporters from voting for the party in the remaining elections.

Commenting on the polls yesterday, ACN said the plan by the PDP is to massively rig the governorship and state Assembly elections, especially in areas where Jonathan won so as to give the world the impression that the result of the presidential election was not a fluke.

‘’President Jonathan should call his PDP members to order, so that they will not push their luck by attempting to thwart the will of the people any more than they have already done, with the grim consequences that we all can now see,’’ ACN said.

The party said the PDP simply stole more than enough for the owner to see during last presidential election, forgetting that if anyone thinks he/she knows how to hide things, others also know how to find them.

‘’What the PDP did last Saturday was simple: They colluded with security agents and INEC officials to cook figures which have now turned out to be their undoing, because the cooking was not intelligently carried out.

‘’An analysis of the results put out by INEC itself has shown a troubling pattern of clear manipulation. Everywhere the PDP perceived it was strong, it came out with incredibly high numbers of voter in its favour. Conversely, anywhere the opposition was perceived to be strong, the opposition’s margin of victory was unreasonably low,” Mohammed said.

Author of this article: From John-Abba Ogbodo and Ezeocha Nzeh, Abuja

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