The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has slammed the presidency for seeking to usurp the role of INEC by describing the rerun election to the Imo House of Assembly in Oguta as inconclusive.
In a statement issued in Ado-Ekiti on Wednesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said it was up to INEC to determine whether the election was ‘inconclusive’ or marred by ‘violence and irregularities’, not the presidency.
“To the best of our knowledge, it is either the candidates or the parties involved in an election that can take a legal recourse over any perceived irregularities. It therefore baffles us that the presidency has rushed to declare the election inconclusive and marred by rigging, and to call for the prosecution of those involved, simply because its preferred candidate lost.
“According to the information at our disposal, INEC cancelled the results in eight of the 232 polling booths for one reason or the other. That is less than 4% of the total number of booths, and it is definitely not enough to make an election ‘inconclusive’, as the presidency did by assuming the role of an umpire,” it said.
ACN also accused the presidency of being selective in its quest for the prosecution of those who rig or engage in violence during elections, wondering where the presidency was when the last Ondo State gubernatorial election was marred by massive rigging and violence.
“Let’s be clear: It is not the business of the presidency to pronounce any election inconclusive or marred by violence. That is the business of INEC. The presidency is wrong in trying to pre-empt INEC, simply because the PDP candidate lost the election to the Okorocha faction of APGA. Would the presidency have raised the alarm if the victor had come from the Obi faction of APGA? Why didn’t the presidency speak up over the Ondo State Governorship election that was marred by massive violence and rigging? Is it because its favoured candidate won?
“We are the undisputed advocate of free and fair elections, one man, one vote and of peaceful conduct of polls. But we will not support selective perception, as the presidency is now doing. There must be no sacred cows. Whoever perpetrates rigging or violence must be brought to justice, whether or not they belong to the ruling/favoured parties,” the party said.
It said the presidency is jittery because it is afraid that the outcome of the election in Oguta may be a referendum on the leadership of President Jonathan and a sign of things to come, which of course it is!
”The presidency should be prepared for more of the drubbing they received in Oguta, because henceforth, that is what will happen to the PDP in subsequent elections. It is a sign of things to come, hence the presidency is right to be jittery. But what it has no right to do is to usurp the role of election umpire or assume the role of a political party,” ACN said.
In a related development, The Peoples Democratic Party has berated Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha over what it called a persistent desperate attempt to truncate the wish of the people in the recent Imo State Assembly rerun election, describing his actions as shamelessly undemocratic.
The ruling party said it was unfortunate that Okorocha deployed thugs whose violent activities disrupted elections in parts of the constituency when he discovered that the PDP was in clear lead.
PDP Acting National Publicity Secretary Tony Caesar Okeke in statement said the blatant attempt by the Governor and his party, the APGA to rig the election and the subsequent sustained bizarre efforts by them to unilaterally declare a fraudulent election result even after the INEC had declared same inconclusive, is a window into the jaundiced disposition of the opposition to free and fair elections.
“The Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha needs to urgently retrace his steps; advise himself and halt this rapid, rabid descent into barefaced dictatorship. Unfortunately and shamefully too, authoritarianism is fast nibbling away the hard won democracy in the Eastern Heartland, with Okorocha furiously dancing naked to this macabre beats with his two ears shut.”
The statement added that it was only desperation that could force a sitting governor to run from pillar to post, ridiculing himself and his office with “cooked election results”.
“The governor’s attempt to browbeat the alertness of the people of Oguta and force INEC to shirk its responsibilities failed woefully. Understandably, INEC had in a statement today expressed huge ‘disappointment at the culture of thuggery, intolerance and unruly conduct’ of APGA at the elections.
The PDP also said the successive Oguta rerun election in which it has continued to show electoral superiority despite intimidation and various acts of violence by the APGA led Imo State government is a clear indication of the acceptance of the party in Imo state and Nigeria in general.
It advised the Imo Governor and the opposition to take clue from President Goodluck Jonathan whose principled stand on bequeathing a legacy of credible elections must be supported by all adding that democracy can only gain firm footing in the country with the cooperation of leaders at all levels.
It will be recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday in Abuja condemned the irregularities which characterized the rerun election to the Imo State of Assembly in Oguta last Saturday, saying that the conduct of certain persons and groups involved in the election totally negated the spirit of one man, one vote which his administration is trying to foster in Nigeria.
Speaking at an audience with a delegation from the Nigerian Senators’ Forum, President Jonathan urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the nation’s security agencies to take immediate steps to bring all those who played any role in the violence and electoral irregularities that marred the election to justice.
The President said that it had become apparent that in order to successfully achieve his administration’s objective of entrenching a culture of consistently free, fair and credible elections in the country, it must be made clear to all stakeholders that any unlawful conduct during elections will be swiftly punished.
“Those who made it impossible for the rerun election in Oguta to be conclusive must be brought to book. We must make it clear that impunity in the perpetration of violence and irregularities during elections will no longer be tolerated. Sanctions, promptly imposed on guilty persons, will deter others from engaging in such acts in future,” he declared.
Welcoming the Senators’ Forum’s pledge of support for his administration’s efforts to thoroughly sanitize Nigeria’s electoral system, President Jonathan said that he was glad that his advocacy for one man, one vote was winning more adherents across the country.
The President said that the Federal Government under his leadership will work with other like-minded Nigerians and the forum, which has a membership of over 500 serving and former senators, to strengthen Nigeria’s democratic institutions and deliver more dividends of democracy to ordinary Nigerians.
“There must be even greater harmony between the executive and legislative arms of government. We must work together to ensure that all Nigerians benefit more from our political activities,” he told the delegation which was led by Senator Khairat Abdulrazaq Gwadabe.
Senator Gwadabe had earlier told President Jonathan that the Senators’ Forum which was established in 2003, was committed to supporting his efforts to strengthen institutions of democracy in Nigeria.
She praised the President’s commitment to maintaining cordial and harmonious relations with the National Assembly as well as his respect for the rule of law.
The delegation included Senators Abubakar Girei, Iyabo Anisulowo, Alex Kadiri, John Danboyi, Victor Oyofo, Emmanuel Ibok Essien, Haruna Abdulazeez and Sunday Fajimi, Sylvannus Ngele, Bala Adamu, Zeog H. Aziz and Omololu Meroyi.