The Middle Belt Forum has demanded the resignation of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, alleging that he subverted the wishes of Nigerians over the commission’s failure to electronically transmit the results of the February 25 presidential election.
The forum said the basis of the support of the people of the Middle Belt for the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi, in the last general election was in line with its sense of justice, equity and fair play.
The President of MBF, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, made the call in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday.
Bitrus said the INEC helmsman should either resign or be sacked by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
Pogu said, “We call on the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to toe the honourable path by resigning his position before the next election. His frittering away of tens of billions of naira on a technology that he did not intend to use makes him unfit to continue to maintain his position.
“In the event Professor Yakubu failed to tender his resignation after this press statement, President Muhammadu Buhari should summarily sack him. We pray that inaction by Mr President and the Presidency will not be seen as complicity in the subversion of the will of Nigerians in the electoral heist of February 25, 2023, a preposition we will prefer not to be correct.
“As political parties and candidates head to the election petition tribunal, we strongly urge the judges to remain on the side of justice and ensure the wheel of justice is not compromised.
“At a time like this when the din, orchestrated by undemocratic forces, seeks to suppress the will of Nigerians, it becomes absolutely imperative to place on record for posterity the basis for the decisions and actions of men and women of conscience.”
According to the MBF, the refusal by INEC to transmit results electronically by INEC was unconstitutional and illegal.
Pogu said since the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, and the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, had resolved to approach the Presidential Elections Petition Tribunal, “the courts should act at all times in a manner their decisions will not be seen as subverting the will of the people as many Nigerians point at the Uzodinma and Machina cases as decisions they cannot understand.”
He said, “Apart from the brazen refusal by INEC to comply with its own Guidelines, the Electoral Act and the Constitution, the conduct of the commission on election day was fraught with deliberately orchestrated logistical challenges, as shown by the late arrival of materials as well as INEC staff at polling units, harassment of voters in opposition strongholds to suppress votes, fraudulent thumb-printing of ballot papers by INEC officials leading to the death of an INEC staff at Lugbe, in the FCT, among other infractions.
“We express great disappointment in the collation officers that took charge of the 8,816 wards, 774 LGAs and the 37 states who, instead of strengthening the institution, only made a mockery of themselves. We commend the courageous men and women who stood for justice, particularly within the Middle Belt enclaves of our 14 states and the FCT, in order to ensure the will of our people prevailed.
“The legitimacy and integrity of the electoral process makes it extremely important for INEC to prove to the Nigerian people that their mandate was not deliberately subverted. INEC must therefore comply with its guidelines, the law and the constitution in conducting the governorship and House of Assembly elections slated to hold on March 11 2023.”
Meanwhile, the group harped on the fact that the South-East had not produced Nigeria’s President since return to democratic rule in 1999, saying this was the reason it backed LP’s candidate, Obi, in the election.
It said, “The shared understanding by the political elite in Nigeria that presidential power oscillates between southern and northern Nigeria had ensured that the South-West and the South-South geo-political zones had been in the saddle at the presidential level at different times since the return of civil rule in May 1999, leaving out only the South-East.
“On the basis of fairness and inclusivity, it was imperative for the South-East to produce the next President of Nigeria from southern Nigeria. This conviction was why the Middle Belt was the first to hold a rally in support of Obi in Jos, Plateau State, in 2022.”
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