Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
A group of protesters under the platform of Save Nigeria Democracy Group (SNDG) yesterday took their protest to the national headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja to register their grievances over the spate of inconclusive elections declared by the commission.
The protesters said the results from the just concluded elections “did not reflect the true voting direction of Nigerians.’’
As early as 9 a.m, the protesters had arrived in their hundreds at the Unity Fountain in Abuja, where they started their protest.
They were seen carrying different placards with inscriptions such as “the people’s mandate cannot be stolen”, “Atiku will not congratulate Buhari”, “Prof.Yakubu must resign”, “inconclusive election is a shame”, “ Atiku will get justice,” among many others.
While addressing the INEC representative, who came to receive the protesters, the leader of the group, Tijani Abdulmumuni, said it has become necessary for all well-meaning Nigerians to halt and take a critical review of the events that characterised the just concluded round of elections, which he added portend danger to democracy in Nigeria.
Abdulmumini said INEC’s refusal to conclude the collation of results from select states gives credence to the allegation that certain elements are out to drag this country into chaos, which must be rejected at all cost.
“This latest show of desperation has further strengthened earlier concerns of widespread voter suppression, targeted violence, militarisation of the political space and systematic inflation of figures that punctuated the presidential and National Assembly elections.
“It also heightens the fear of the dire consequences of the federal government muscling INEC and the nation’s security into turning blind eyes to obvious infractions and violations of the federal constitutional provisions and the Electoral Act and the regulations/guidelines regulating the 2019 general elections and went ahead to uphold and announce a tailored result that only serve the ruling APC,” he said.
The leader of the group said both the international and local observers have reported that there were biases in use of the Smart Card Reader machines.
He said that while INEC dutifully enforced the use of the card reader in the South-south, South-east and the North-central zones of the country, which are essentially opposition strongholds, it failed to do so in the North-west, North-east and the South-west, which were estimated as the APC stronghold.
He added, “We wish to place on record that the monumental electoral fraud, manipulation which have very negative implications on the credibility, transparency and integrity of the entire elections constitute a latent threat to our democratic development.
“Against all known rules of decency and fairness, the deliberate violations, which include the widespread non-usage or selective enforcement of the use of Smart Card Reader (SCR) machines are also an indictment in the sight of the international community.
‘’Other infractions on electoral process listed by the group included the deliberate non-deployment of result Form EC 8 to polling centres, the barricade by armed military personnel to deny the agents of opposition political parties access to collation centres, the recording of falsified figures and violent attacks at opposition strongholds.
“In the North-west, the deplorable use of battalions of underage situation almajiri was the order of most frontline states in addition to armed thugs unleashed on voters.
“The figures said to have been recorded in those troubled regions are as ridiculous as they are questionable, suspicious and unacceptable.
“It is therefore worrying, embarrassing and a glaring insult for such inflated figures to have been presented accepted and declared as results from such states despite the abiding fear of a vicious banditry.”
The protesters chanted solidarity songs, asking Nigerians to rise and reject the results and push for immediate redress.
They further stated that the results that eventually came out of the flawed exercise of 23 February did not reflect the true voting direction of Nigerians, stating that they are capable of setting a dangerous precedent and exposing democracy and collective nationhood to danger if allowed to stand.
“We specifically call on the civil society, youth groups, the elders and leaders of various communities, and the international community to expose such monumental fraud, and to hold that President Buhari has woefully failed as a leader with genuine intentions and capacity to save our democracy and the future unity of the country.
“Finally, with this, we hereby reaffirm our total rejection of the entire exercise and the concocted results that emanated therefrom”, the group said.
While receiving the protesters on behalf of the commission, INEC’s Assistant Director of Security, Kelechi Madumere, commended the group for a peaceful exercise, assuring them that the commission will do everything possible not to betray the trust and the wish of Nigerians