The Independent National Electoral Commission has shrugged off demands by various stakeholders, including political parties, to pause the ongoing collation and declaration of the results of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections over allegations of electoral manipulation and compromise.
The Peoples Democratic Party and Labour Party at the National Collation Centre in Abuja on Monday protested the failure of the commission to ask its officials to upload the results on the INEC portal from the polling units.
They complained about widespread discrepancies in the results of the polls and asked the electoral commission to halt the proceedings at the collation centre and address their complaints.
But following the refusal of the INEC Chairman, Mahood Yakubu, to heed the parties’ calls, some opposition parties on Monday staged a walkout during the announcement of results at the National Collation Centre, International Conference Centre, Abuja.
The walkout was led by the PDP which had queried the commission over observed alleged discrepancies in the released results and its failure to upload the election results on its portal for public view.
The PDP agent, Senator Dino Melaye, led the opposition parties out of the collation centre in protest against Yakubu’s refusal to acknowledge and act on their observations and demand.
The other parties included the Action Alliance, African Democratic Congress and Social Democratic Party.
However, nine political parties later came back to the centre about two hours after leaving the hall.
The agents of the parties also claimed they were not part of the walkout.
The parties include African Action Congress, Social Democratic Party, Peoples Redemption Party, Boot Party, Accord Party, National Rescue Movement, Youth Progressives Party, Allied Peoples Movement and New Nigeria Peoples Party. The All Progressives Congress did not join the protest.
Before the incident which disrupted the proceedings, the INEC chairman had shut down a motion by Melaye to adjourn the collation process until polling units results were uploaded on the INEC Results Viewing Portal.
While alleging that the entire process had been compromised by INEC, he sought for the cancellation of the entire presidential election results.
Addressing journalists after staging the walkout, Melaye claimed that the PDP, LP and others were demanding the cancellation of the entire presidential election result.
He said, “We as party agents having observed that the national chairman of INEC is determined to rig the election by making sure that results are not uploaded by vehemently making a presentation that makes it look as if we are all here to rubber stamp the fraud that has been cooked between INEC and APC.
“We are saying that we are not here to rubber-stamp the electoral fraud that has been prepared by INEC and APC. We are Nigerians and we all know that there is nowhere on the server that results have been uploaded and the INEC chairman is now saying we should wait for the process to be completed before he will review knowing full well that once a declaration is done, there can’t be any review but by the courts.
“So we completely disassociate ourselves and that’s why we staged a walkout. All the political parties here have staged a walkout to express the unfortunate politicisation and commercialization of our electoral process.
Speaking further, the former lawmaker stated, “We have records of where the BVAS were not used and results have been pronounced. What is difficult for the INEC chairman showing the uploaded results so that we can compare and interrogate that with a presentation that is made by the state returning officers?
“But they cannot upload results. They cannot show us uploaded results because they know that what they are going to upload will be at variance with what they are presenting to Nigerians.
“So, the electoral process has been rigged. INEC has rigged the 2023 elections, and we are completely disassociating ourselves from it and we know what to do next.
“All of us that staged a walkout; our resolution is that the entire process be cancelled. That is our demand.”
Hours after the incident at the collation centre, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who endorsed the candidacy of the LP standard bearer a few months ago, raised the alarm that danger is lurking around the country over the alleged compromise of the electoral process.
Obasanjo, therefore, appealed to the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to prevail on the INEC chairman to stop the ongoing collation and announcement of results and rectify the allegations raised against the electoral process
The ex-president’s position was endorsed by the PDP and LP on Monday.
Obasanjo in a letter titled, ‘’Until last Saturday night, February 25, 2023, the good and noble plan and preparation for the elections seemed to be going well. For the Independent National Electoral Commission , a lot of money was spent to introduce the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System and the server for immediate transmission of results from polling units.
‘’It is no secret that INEC officials, at operational level, have been allegedly compromised to make what should have worked not to work and to revert to manual transmission of results which is manipulated and the results doctored.
“The chairman of INEC may claim ignorance but he cannot fold his hands and do nothing when he knows that the election process has been corrupted and most of the results that are brought outside BVAS and server are not true reflection of the will of Nigerians who have made their individual choice.
“At this stage, we do not need wittingly or unwittingly to set this country on fire with the greed, irresponsibility and unpatriotic act of those who allegedly gave money to INEC officials for perversion and those who collected the blood money.’’
The elder statesman appealed to Yakubu to ‘’if his hands are clean, save Nigeria from the looming danger and disaster which is just waiting to happen.’’