PDP Dismisses INEC Investigation on Underage Voting


• Queries exclusion of Katsina

By Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Sunday rejected the composition and scope of the eight-man in-house committee set up by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to investigate the inclusion of underaged voters in its register, particularly in Kano and Katsina States.

The party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, queried the credibility of the panel, saying it was made up of members of the electoral body, which compiled the discredited register in the first instance.
According to the party, given the composition of the panel, it would be difficult for it to come up with a credible outcome, alleging that its members had been detailed to arrive at predetermined findings and recommendations aimed at exonerating the Yakubu-led commission.

The party argued further that the investigative panel would have no choice, in the circumstances, other than to play down the overall implications of having under-aged voters on the voters’ register for the 2019 general election.
The PDP also rejected the scope of the investigation, particularly the exclusion of Katsina State from the probe, despite, what it called, vast evidence of underaged voters in the state.
It said: “Nigerians have been wondering why INEC is afraid of looking at its register in Katsina State. Is it because Katsina is the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari and a probe is likely to expose cans of worms?
“Is INEC afraid that a sanitised register would lead to a massive drop in the voting population in the state and cripple APC’s rigging plan?

“Nigerians are also wondering why INEC has vehemently refused to include other stakeholders, including political parties, credible NGOs and Civil Society Organizations in this important assignment to guarantee its credibility.
“We hold that by excluding other stakeholders, INEC is definitely not sincere with the sanitization of INEC voters’ register in Kano, Katsina and other states where, out of intimidation, it is allowing the registration of minors.

“INEC under Prof. Yakubu is already manifesting weaknesses and bias, which further confirms why it should not be trusted in the conduct of the 2019 general elections.”
It said it would, along with its aligning stakeholders, not accept any findings or recommendations from the INEC investigative panel because it did not believe that its outcome would lead to the cleaning up of the register.
The party said: “We insist that INEC must be bold enough to extend the inquest to Katsina state as well as other states where minors were registered unless it wants the world to believe that it had already caved in to pressure ahead of the 2019 general elections.”

The PDP, therefore, urged Yakubu to redeem his name by disbanding the committee and set up a more credible and transparent panel made up of political parties, credible NGOs and CSOs as well as extend the inquest to Katsina and other states.
The party stated: “Prof. Yakubu must understand that his allegiance is to Nigeria and not the APC. INEC under him must not lose its credibility or be reduced to an annex of the APC and its failed presidency, anything as such would be resisted.

“Indeed, Nigerians would not accept anything short of a credible, free and fair general elections in 2019 and any attempt by anyone to pander towards the rejected APC with a view to subverting the determined will of the people will have himself to blame.”