The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has questioned Tuesday’s meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.
The president had met with Yakubu, other officials of the electoral body as well the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, who he charged to ensure a free, fair and credible process in the upcoming re-run elections in parts of the country.
But in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday by Kola Ologbondiyan, its National Publicity Secretary, the PDP tasked the management of INEC and the Police to come clean on the details of their meeting with President Buhari which, it noted was coming ahead of about 28 impending runoffs and by-elections scheduled for this month.
It said: “Our party holds that INEC is an independent electoral commission whose activities and processes are clearly governed by the law and extant rules and not by the dictates or prescriptions of the President.
“Mr President should, therefore, steer clear of INEC while the commission must assert its independence and desist from going to the Presidential villa for instructions on elections. Nigerians have their doubts if the hugely compromised INEC under Professor Yakubu can be anything independent.”
The main opposition party also stated that President Buhari’s recent comments on the nation’s electoral process under the current INEC have raised fresh issues on the credibility of the February 2019 Presidential election.
The party noted that in demanding that INEC and the Police should ensure that the will of the people prevailed in free, fair and credible elections “immediately ahead and going forward,” the president has admitted that preceding elections under the current dispensation have been less than credible.
The statement added: “This is including the recent elections in Bayelsa and Kogi where the All Progressives Congress (APC) turned the respective states to theatres of war, yet Mr President congratulated the ‘winners’ of those charades.
“In his own words, in a meeting with INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, at the Presidential Villa, Mr President said, ‘our elections must be done in violent-free atmosphere. The process must be free, fair, decent and devoid of intimidations and malpractices. It is the duty of the police to accomplish that and this is what I expect in the elections immediately ahead and going forward.’
“Mr President added, ‘those that you declare as winners must be candidates that the people have chosen. Democracy is about free will, and the will of the people must be allowed to prevail.’
“This is a weighty verdict by Mr President on the huge electoral fraud perpetrated in the 2019 elections by his party, APC.
“Though the verdict of the Supreme Court on the Presidential Election stands, in total obedience to our laws, the fact remains that the violent manipulations of the 2019 elections in favour of the APC and its candidates will continue to stare our nation in the face.
“Mr President’s remark shows that, in their innermost conscience, beneficiaries of manipulated polls are always confronted with the truth.”
According to the PDP, if, indeed, the president was committed to ensuring free, fair and credible electoral process, he should reintroduce the 8th Assembly’s Electoral Act Amendment bill, “which he refused to sign, and make a fresh commitment to sign it into law immediately it is retooled to meet current exigencies and passed by the current National Assembly.”
The PDP further said: “He should order the prosecution of security agents involved in the invasion of polling centres and shooting at voters in recent elections.
“He should also reciprocate the benevolence of Nigerians by recreating an electoral atmosphere like the one that brought him into office in 2015.
“After that, Mr President should focus on seeking solutions to the worsening economic and security challenges that have befallen our nation under his incompetent administration.“