Buhari, APC Too Desperate To Win – US Group Reacts To Rigging, Use Of Soldiers
The United States-Nigeria Law Group, an election observer initiative, has released a damning assessment report of the 2019 elections, where it clearly stated that most of the issues that troubled the election were deliberately contrived to assist the ruling APC to retain power at all cost.
Of particular note is an aspect of the report which stated that the President Buhari-led administration, in both the Judiciary and INEC matters, violated the constitution of Nigeria, which guarantees their independence from interference.
In a statement signed by Mr. Emmanuel Ogebe and obtained by ThisDay at the weekend, the Group said it observed conscious efforts to compromise the elections and raised early warnings as well as concerns, which have now been validated and proven by the resulting self-sabotaged elections.
For example, it noted that INEC announced inconclusive elections in 6 states out of which PDP was reportedly leading in all but one.
“The principle on cancelled votes versus margin of victory, which ostensibly informed the inconclusive declarations in state elections, was not uniformly applied in the presidential elections. So far the following states have been declared inconclusive – the most ever in Nigerian history – Benue, Plateau, Adamawa, Sokoto, Kano and Bauchi states.
“It is especially noteworthy that in the case of Kano State, the PDP was overwhelming leading when the Deputy Governor seized and tore the results of the last Local Government to be declared. This brazen act of brigandage was caught on video and is perhaps emblematic of how the election results overall have been hijacked.”
According to the election observer group, the Buhari regime had shown unambiguously its displeasure with both the Judiciary and INEC for not delivering its preferred outcomes. It further held that there was a clear pattern of desperation, constitutional violation and fabrication in the actions of the regime towards both key institutions that have a critical role in the elections.
While enumerating several shortcomings of the 2019 election, the USNLG expressed grave concern at the brazen militarisation of the elections.
For instance, the USNLG report noted that: “The Buhari regime acting ostensibly on a private petition interfered with both the Judiciary and INEC regarding the removal of CJN and election postponement respectively.”
“Indeed, the president is on record for having said following the passage of the ‘not-too-young to run’ law, that it should be only after his re-election. This Freudian slip cements the notion that he nixed the electoral reforms for the same self-perpetuation.
The election observer group therefore said it decided to share its report for the benefit of the electorate and the international community for the sake of global democracy.
“We gathered that out of a list of about 500 names submitted by a federal institution to INEC as poll officials, a ruling party Senator selected those whom he deemed he could ‘work with’. In addition, the APC Senator doled out millions of naira, which was distributed to the INEC-trained poll officials at a location in Makurdi, the Benue State Capital. The temporary poll officials were called by phone to come and collect the serving Senator’s cash in person from the said location.”
It also said that before the governorship election of March 9, a university professor was apprehended with election materials in Benue State and his vehicle burnt by irate voters, thus reiterating the fact that it witnessed firsthand, the distribution of cash from the back of a vehicle to political operatives for unknown purposes and particularly stunned that the party functionaries were escorted by police.
While expressing its concern over President Buhari’s actions and inactions before, during and after the elections, the observer group said it was deeply concerned at the president’s remarks that electoral malpractice would attract summary execution.
“The military invasion and rampage in Rivers State is troublesome on several levels not the least of which is: The ruling party APC was not even a candidate in the elections yet the government interfered with military might to rig in the most ignoble and egregious way ever.
“The wicked, oppressive and violent attacks on innocent civilians and their homes and property in the formerly restive Niger Delta just for elections, has the real propensity for re-igniting another armed insurrection in the region.
“It is clear that the overarching objective of the coercive force is not to install APC, which has no candidate but to uninstall PDP. Rivers State has been the key rallying point and resource base for the opposition and the military mission is to completely gut their capacity by stripping them of power in Rivers State.”
The group noted that the military denial of involvement was not credible in the least.
Despite the pronouncements by the authorities on security readiness, the observer group noted that between the two elections, over 200 people were slaughtered in non-voting massacres in Benue, Zamfara and Kaduna states.
On the Security deployments to Rivers State during the election, the group said the scenario resembled a war zone.
It maintained that it was in possession of a bizarre video showing an INEC official admitting that their office was besieged by the military and results of election officers confiscated, thereby preventing them from collating the election result.
In addition, the group said: “Viral video footage showed soldiers overrun the home of the state Education Commissioner as well as charging through his kitchen chasing after female residents with guns drawn.
“Other videos show courageous women chanting and keeping soldiers from breaking in and stealing election results. Yet another video shows protesters singing Christian choruses, when the military opened fire on the harmless crowd, injuring several. In another, the military went to arrest a former militant but were prevented by members of his community,” the group stated.
In further confirmation of its position that officials of the ruling party conivived to interfere in conduct of the election, the group said the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami had written to INEC advising it to comply with the judgment of the Court of Appeal by admitting the result of the APC Zamfara state primaries and also comply with the provisions of section 38 of the Electoral Act which empowers INEC to postpone the election for the governorship, National and State Houses of Assembly election. It said that the AGF actually admitted in writing that the APC needs “a little time to catch up.”
Such an “illicit motive could not be clearer nor more dubious – to score an advantage for a political party”, it said. According to the group, INEC postponed the elections of February 16th and March 2nd after the Attorney General requested it whether or not the commission admits that. USNLG said that in further validation of its stand that the election postponement was contrived for the benefit of the incumbent party, INEC also allowed the APC in Zamfara State to field candidates in the rescheduled elections just like the AG illegally and fraudulently requested.
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