The Coalition of United Political Parties on Monday alleged that INEC released unclaimed permanent voter cards in units where there would be supplementary election to government officials in Osun State.
The coalition members alleged that the conspiracy was being spearheaded by some unnamed national officers of the commission.
CUPP, which was formed a few months ago with the aim of ousting the President Muhammadu Buhari administration in the 2019 presidential election, warned that the act of illegality would not be allowed to stand.
Spokesman for the CUPP, Mr Ikenga Ugochinyere, made the allegations in a statement on Monday.
He said, “The attention of the CUPP has been drawn to credible intelligence showing a new conspiracy by some national officers of INEC to tamper and manipulate the Osun governorship rerun with the ongoing release of uncollected PVCs to desperate APC government in Osun State.
“We wish to alert the public that the move mde by INEC was coordinated by an INEC senior officer from South-West, who refuses to release the official list of people who have collected PVCs at the seven polling units where the election is to be held.
“We have it on good authority that less than 1,000 registered voters have collected their PVC’s out of the 3,498 voters. This means that less than 1,000 persons are to participate in the actual voting.
“We demand that INEC immediately release this list. The delay is a calculated plot to announce a fictitious figure of uncollected PVCs to enable the APC to share the PVCs to thugs imported from Lagos.”
Ugochinyere added that the CUPP was aware that the Information Communications Technology Unit of the commission was on the verge of releasing the telephone numbers of registered voters of the rerun polling units to the APC.
“The plan is to call, harass and bribe the voters with huge sums from the Paris Club refund meant to pay Osun workers their three-year salary,” he added.
Present concrete proofs, INEC tells CUPP
But INEC said the CUPP should present proofs to back up its allegations, warning the body to stop sowing discord in Osun State.
Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who spoke on Monday, noted that INEC had “conducted six governorship elections since 2015 without manipulation.”
Oyekanmi said, “It is irresponsible of the CUPP to make a wild and unsubstantiated allegation such as this at this time. What exactly is their motive? The media should ask the CUPP to provide concrete proof about this allegation. The INEC has conducted 191 different types of elections, including six governorship elections since 2015. If the commission did not manipulate any of these elections, why will it do so now with the Osun governorship election?
“The CUPP is advised to engage in patriotic actions rather than sowing discord at a time like this.”
Also, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Osun State, Mr Olusegun Agbaje, denied the allegation.
Agbaje, who spoke with one of our correspondents, stated that all the unclaimed PVCs were returned to the INEC office.
He said, “I don’t know where politicians get all this information but I am telling you that the unclaimed PVCs are in our strong room here in Osogbo office.
“The distribution of PVCs ended by 5.pm last Wednesday and I instructed all of them at the local government areas to return the uncollected PVCs the same day. They are in our strong room.”
Attempts to get the reaction of the acting National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena, were unsuccessful. Calls to his mobile telephone indicated that it was switched off. He had yet to reply to a text message sent to him.
We’ll challenge INEC’s decision in court, says PDP
The Peoples Democratic Party said in Abuja on Monday that it would head to court to challenge the alleged illegal declaration of the Saturday Osun governorship election as inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The party said the polls had already been concluded and results announced in all polling and the collation centres, thus bringing the exercise to its lawful conclusion, which had removed INEC powers to declare the election inconclusive.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, who gave the party’s position in a statement in Abuja, said the electoral law was clear that once an election result was declared, INEC was bound to declare a winner.
He said INEC, in allegedly trying to play the card of the All Progressives Congress, contravened the law by refusing to announce a winner when the declared results had thrown up a winner.
He said, “Section 69 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) states inter-alia, ‘In an election to the office of the President or governor, whether or not contested and in any contested election to any other elective office, the result shall be ascertained by counting the votes cast for each candidate and subject to the provisions of sections 133, 134 and 179 of the constitution, the candidate that receives the highest number of votes shall be declared elected by the appropriate Returning Officer.’
“Concurrently, Section 179 (2), (a) (b) of the constitution directly prescribes that ‘a candidate for an election to the office of governor of a state shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being two or more candidates – (a) he has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and (b) he has not less than one-quarter of all the votes cast in each of at least two-thirds of all the local government areas in the state.’
“INEC’s action in declaring a concluded election as inconclusive is therefore an annulment, totally duplicitous, constitutionally illegal, ultra vires and as such, null and void.
“The PDP demands the immediate arrest and prosecution of the Osun State Governorship Election Returning Officer, Prof. Joseph Fuwape, for succumbing to the pressure of the APC and declaring a decided election inconclusive.
“We demand that INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, summon the courage to do the needful by declaring our candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, as winner.”
“The PDP is heading to the court to quash the illegal declaration.”
Ologbondiyan boasted that if the Osun governorship election was conducted over and over again, the PDP would still win, adding that the people of the state had chosen the PDP and its candidate, Adeleke.
PDP plans to buy votes, says APC
Earlier on Monday, the APC urged INEC and security agencies to stop an alleged plot by the Peoples Democratic Party to buy votes in order to rig the rerun.
This was contained in a statement by Nabena.
The APC said the aftermath of Saturday’s inconclusive Osun State governorship election confirmed the PDP’s vow to deploy all “means, schemes, shenanigans in all ramification and magnitude” to rig all coming elections, starting from the governorship poll.”
The statement read in part, “It is now clear that the vote-buying template introduced by the PDP and brazenly deployed in the Osun inconclusive election is an urgent threat to our democracy.
“While the PDP and its paid proxies were accusing other political parties of irregularities during Saturday’s inconclusive elections, the party was busy perpetuating its vote-buying scheme as exposed in several leaked videos showing PDP agents buying votes for its candidate, particularly in councils in Ede.
“The PDP’s public rigging method, particularly vote-buying and dissemination of diversionary fake news must be checked as we go into the INEC-ordered Osun governorship rerun. We also call on the electorate, civil society organisations and relevant stakeholders to speak out and resist the PDP’s retrogressive plans.”
Nabena said the PDP had been misinforming the public on the rationale for declaring the Osun governorship election inconclusive.
He recalled that in 2015, the late Abubakar Audu of Kogi State was leading by 240,867 votes to PDP’s 199,514 votes, adding that the margin of 41,353 favoured APC but it was declared inconclusive.
“The people’s will; the people’s vote is supreme. It must be respected and defended. That is democratic, progressive and the right thing,” Nabena added.
Also on Monday, the APC Council for the 2018 Osun Governorship Election described as excessive grandstanding, the call by the PDP to INEC to declare its candidate the winner.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Monday, the Chairman of the council’s media committee, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the “PDP’s descent into hysteria” after INEC announced that the election was inconclusive reinforced the council’s earlier statement that the opposition party was in the panic mode.
Mohammed said rather than resort to threats, the PDP could either go to court or decide not to participate in the supplementary election of Thursday.
He said what the PDP should not do was to engage in alleged trade-mark brigandage or employ tactics that could affect the democratic process.
He said, ‘’In its time, there would have been no room for a supplementary election in Osun because the PDP would have used state institutions to hijack the election proper, as it did in Ekiti in 2014.
‘’Local and foreign observers have hailed INEC and the security agencies for a well-organised election. We join them in this commendation.
“Our confidence in the ability of the relevant state institutions involved in the Osun election remains unshaken. So also is our belief that every disagreement resulting from the election must be resolved through the democratic process, rather than a resort to threats of fire and brimstone.”
Mohammed commended the people of Osun State for deepening the nation’s democracy by eschewing violence and exercising their franchise in orderly manner.
He urged voters in the areas to be covered by the supplementary election to also ensure a peaceful process on Thursday.
‘We’ll resist conspiracy against Adeleke’
However, the lawmaker representing Kano Central Senatorial District and presidential aspirant on the platform of the PDP, Senator Rabi’u Kwankwaso, warned against any conspiracy against Adeleke.
Kwankwaso, in a statement by his media aide, Binta Spikin, urged INEC to be fair in the conduct of the election.
The statement read, “It is important that we stay strong and stand by Senator Adeleke and our great party, PDP, on Thursday.
“Let me also make this clear that we will resist any form of conspiracy against our candidate. I am calling on INEC to be just, fair and transparent.”