By Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The federal government has warned that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led opposition is planning to disrupt the electoral process and render the February 23 election null and void.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the allegation in a statement issued in Oro, Kwara State, Monday.
In a thinly veiled accusation, he berated the opposition, saying it plans to foist an interim government on the country from a constitutional crisis that will arise from a deadlocked electoral process.
Mohammed tasked the security agencies to respond to a likelihood of a constitutional crisis that the PDP wants to trigger by immediately arresting and prosecuting anyone who announces the result of last Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections.
He said that PDP is laying the groundwork for such constitutional crisis by usurping the function of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He accused the opposition of announcing the result of the election even when INEC had yet to collate and declare the results.
Mohammed identified PDP strategists such as Buba Galadima, Osita Chidoka and Femi Fani-Kayode as the arrowheads through which the impunity of using the public space to claim victory is to be perfected.
He warned that usurping the role of INEC through the announcement of a result amounts to a violation of the Electoral Act which will result in very serious consequences.
”By announcing the result and saying they have won the February 23rd election, the PDP is deliberately seeking to confuse the polity and lay the foundation for rejecting the outcome if, when INEC eventually announces the result, the party does not win.
”This confirms what we said in a series of pre-election press conferences, that the PDP – realising it cannot win a free and fair election – will do everything possible to scuttle the polls, failing which it will proceed to the next stage, which is to discredit the entire electoral process, including the result, with the ultimate aim of precipitating a constitutional crisis and pushing for an interim government,” he said.
The minister also recalled the alarm raised by the federal government over the PDP’s decision to set up a parallel electoral body, under the
tag of Parallel Voting Tabulation (PVT) System, which the opposition party described as a tool that will determine whether or not it accepts the results of the elections.
”We said, then, that while it is standard practice for political parties to have their own monitoring systems during elections, what is not standard is to set up a pseudo electoral commission and imbue it with the power to collate and announce results – as the PDP is now doing under the guise of PVT. Unfortunately, our warning has proven to be prescient,” he said.