PDP, Candidates Warn INEC against Manipulating National Assembly Election Data

. President Muhammadu Buhari addressing the Lawmakers during the presentation of 2019 Budget at a joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja

•  Lalong denies complicity

By Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

The Peoples Democrat Party (PDP) in Plateau State and some of its National Assembly candidates in the last Saturday elections have warned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) against tampering with the records on smart card readers, especially for the positions in the Plateau Central Senatorial zone that were declared inconclusive.

Addressing a press conference on Friday at the state party Secretariat in Jos, Chairman of the PDP Plateau Central Zone, Benedict Shignugul, Senatorial candidate of the PDP, David Paradang and the party’s candidate for Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam Federal constituency , Hon. Timothy Golu, insisted that INEC must maintain its integrity by ensuring that the smart card readers were protected and the data in them secured from any form of alteration.

They said that, “At the end of the review between the INEC staff and political parties in the elections it was declared by INEC’s returning officer, Prof. Joseph Mangut that the elections were inconclusive in Kanam involving Nine (9) Polling Units in five (5) wards.

“Documents were duly signed by the INEC returning officer for the National Assembly to that effect in the presence of, and witnessed by the agents of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and that of the APC.

“The PDP therefore rejects any purported announcement of results in Pankshin as the meeting between all stakeholders and INEC in Jos ended with the resolution that the results be reviewed by the returning officer in Pankshin and not declared.”

The PDP had written a formal complaint to INEC dated 25th February 2019 about the irregularities that trailed the National Assembly Election results and collation in Kanam.

Acting on the complaint and other reports regarding the irregularities, INEC and parties agreed that the election be declared inconclusive and signed a written agreement to that effect. But the Commission went behind the parties to purportedly declare the results in favour of the APC candidate.

But the PDP said, “We reject the purported announcement of APC candidate as the winner; we demand that INEC stand by its words on the results from Kanam Local Government. The People Democratic Party (PDP) does not accept any purportedly announced results, anything short of standing by the document earlier signed by the Returning Officer, Professor Joseph Mangut is unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, as all accusing fingers point at Governor Simon Lalong as the brain behind the manipulation of election results in the state, the Governor has dissociated himself from any of such act.

In a statement signed by the state Commissioner of Information, Mr. Yakubu Dati, the Governor urged the people to clearly understand “the role of institutions in governance and place their grievances before appropriate institutions.”

Dati explained that “Governor Simon Lalong is the architect of a peaceful Plateau and would not turn round to threaten his good deeds by interfering in a process he is a contestant in and with no control over.”

He described politics as a game of numbers and would work with whoever INEC declared winner irrespective of religious, ethnic or political difference in advancing the greater Plateau interest, adding that though Lalong would have loved his party to win, as governor of all, he respects the wish of the electorate which he describes as the beauty of democracy.

He told the opposition and peddlers of fake news to focus on what unites the state rather than stoking the embers of hatred and divisive politics.