- No diaspora voting in 2019, electoral umpire assures
Adedayo Akinwale and Udora Orizu in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party’s Presidential Campaign Organisation (PPCO), has condemned the alleged plot by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency to rig the 2019 general elections by creating illegal polling centres in Chad and Niger Republic.
The condemnation by the PPCO is coming as the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has raised the alarm over an alleged move by the electoral body and the Presidency to pad up five million fake votes for Buhari by opening of polling centres in the two countries.
The Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, was reported to have stated on Wednesday that a special provision had been made for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Chad and Niger that would allow them to take part in the 2019 elections.
But in a swift reaction, INEC described the reported statement credited to its chairman as false, saying there will be no diaspora or out-of-country voting for any Nigerian, and that only duly registered IDPs within Nigeria would be allowed to vote.
The PDP campaign organisation in a statement Thursday by its Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, described the alleged plot by INEC and President Buhari to secretly create polling centres outside the shores of the country, in total violation of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), as inexcusably criminal, and also exposes part of the plot to corrupt the country’s electoral system and massively rig for Buhari.
“Buhari, INEC and all Nigerians know that there are no provisions for Diaspora voting under our system. By the extant laws guiding elections in Nigeria, it is very clear who is eligible to vote, as well as the centres statutorily designated for elections. There is no provision for any special arrangement centres”
“It is therefore reprehensible that President Buhari, in his desperation to rig the elections, is now trying to hide under the guise of making special provision for IDPs outside the country, to illegally create rigging centres outside our country and import contrived figures into the election results.
“This clandestine arrangement further validates the alarm earlier raised by the PDP, in April this year, of INEC’s plot to secretly create 30,000 illegal polling centres in some remote areas, through which they plan to allocate millions of votes to President Buhari and the APC.”
The PDP therefore cautioned the Buhari’s Presidency and INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, not to set the country on fire by engaging in provocative actions in a desperation to rig the 2019 Presidential election for President Buhari.
•INEC Plotting to Add Five Million Fake Votes, CUPP Insists
Despite INEC’s clarifications, CUPP has also raised the alarm over an alleged move by the electoral body and Presidency to pad up five million fake votes for Buhari by opening of polling centres in Chad and Niger Republic.
In a statement issued by its National spokesperson, Ikenga Ugochinyere, CUPP, an umbrella body of over 45 political parties, stated that its Intelligence unit had since uncovered the massive mobilisation of Chadian, Nigerian and Sudanese citizens preparatory to vote in the presidential elections billed for February 16.
The statement added that the plot is targeted at generating nothing less than five million votes for President Buhari in the election.
“It has now become clearer to Nigerians and the entire world the reasons why President Buhari refused to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill presented to him by the National Assembly, which would have made the Card Reader the only means of accreditation of voters for the election. His only options now include allowing non-Nigerians to participate in an election to determine Nigeria’s President and without accreditation,”Ugochinyere said.
He urged the INEC Chairman to retrace his steps and stand with the Nigerian people in these trying times as the electoral laws prohibit diaspora voting.
He warned that if any electoral staff or materials have been deployed outside the country for the purpose of these illegal and unlawful voting points, they should be returned to the country without any further delay.
He added that this plot is capable of igniting a conflagration, the magnitude of which the President and his outgoing party cannot contain.
•No Diaspora Voting in 2019, INEC Assures
Meanwhile, INEC’s National Commissioner, and Chairman Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, has clarified that there will be no diaspora or out-of-country voting for any Nigerian, adding that only duly registered IDPs within Nigeria would be allowed to vote.
“The Commission wishes to state unequivocally that there will be no Diaspora or out-of-country voting for any Nigerian. In accordance with extant provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), only duly registered Internally Displaced Persons (lDPs) within Nigeria will be allowed to vote.”
Okoye explained that the Framework and Regulations for IDP Voting was presented and validated by stakeholders at a conference held in Abuja on December 12, 2018, but however, there was no reference whatsoever in the remarks made by the INEC Chairman or during deliberations at the validation meeting that special provisions would be made tor IDPs outside Nigeria to vote in the forthcoming general elections, contrary to the said media reports.
He added that the framework validated by stakeholders at the conference was in consonance with the provisions of Section 26 (1) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2015 which provides that “in the event of an emergency affecting an election, the Commission shall as far as possible ensure that persons displaced as a result of the emergency are not disenfranchised.”
“It should however be noted that while IDPs currently residing in states where they registered can vote in all elections, those displaced from their states and are currently living in states other than where they registered can only vote in the presidential poll,” Okoye said.