INEC Declares Bola Ahmed Tinubu President-elect

•Tinubu: 8,794,726, wins 12 states 

•Atiku: 6,984,520, wins 12 states

•Obi: 6,101,533, wins 11 states + FCT 

•Kwankwaso: 1,496,687, wins one state

Chuks Okocha, Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Olawale Ajimotokan, Adedayo Akinwale, Sunday Aborisade in Abuja and Ugo Aliogo in Lagos

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the 2023 presidential election.

The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu declared Tinubu the winner at exactly 4.10am today in Abuja. By this declaration, Tinubu would be the 16th leader of Nigeria since independence in 1960.

The former Lagos state governor polled a total votes of  8,794,726 to defeat his closest rival and the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar who scored  6,984,520 votes, and Peter Obi of Labour party who polled 6,101,533 votes.

The presidential candidate of New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso came a distant fourth with the total votes of 1,496,687 votes.

Yakubu said the registered voters for the election was 93,469,008, while 25,286,616 voters were accredited.

He put the total valid votes at 24,025,940, while total rejected votes were 939,278.

The INEC chairman said the total number of votes cast was 24,965,218.

He declared:  “I certify that I am the returning officer for the 2023 presidential election held on the 25th of February 2003.

“That Tinubu Bola Ahmed of the APC, having satisfied the requirements of the law is hereby declared the winner and returned elected. The Certificate of Return to the president elect and Vice president elect will take place here at 3pm today.”

Yakubu said for Senators and Members of the House of Representatives elect, the commission would issue a statement today on when the presentation of their own certification would be made.

Earlier yesterday, Tinubu had commenced move to stop Atiku and Obi from taking any action that would see to the stoppage of the ongoing collation and announcement of the results of the election.

Tinubu and his running mate, Senator Kasim Shettima, who were the plaintiffs in the suit filed before a Federal High Court in Kano, in their motion on notice filed alongside the originating summons, had asked the court to make the order restraining the defendants from stopping the collation and announcement of the results because, “damages will not adequately compensate for the injury that may be occasioned on the Plaintiffs if by the Defendants stop the collation of the result.”

Also yesterday, INEC had responded to the groundswell of grievances about the conduct of last Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections with an assurance that the polls would be reviewed where necessary in accordance with Section 65 of the Electoral Act.

But the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) had thrown its weight behind the electoral body, saying the ongoing collation of the presidential election results should continue, despite the overwhelming public misgivings.

Amid the growing complaints about the polls, the PDP, Labour Party (LP), and African Democratic Congress (ADC), had yesterday, called on Yakubu, to stand down from superintending the election process on account of his alleged biases.

The parties stated this during a joint press conference in Abuja, where they played a tape of Yakubu promising last November that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) would be used in the 2023 elections.

However, a statement yesterday by Yakubu’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, described the calls for the INEC chairman’s resignation as misplaced and irresponsible.

Nonetheless, the national leadership of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said INEC had explanations to make to Nigerians on why its officials failed to use the BVAS machines on election day as provided in the election guidelines.

Similarly, a top member of LP, Mr. Dele Farotimi, said any attempt to foist on Nigerians a new president based on a flawed election would result in legitimacy crisis for the president.

As part of the widespread loathing of INEC’s conduct during last Saturday’s elections, protesters from different political parties, yesterday, stormed the Presidential Collation Centre at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, to demand electronic transmission of results by the commission.

Curiously, Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, yesterday, intervened in the controversy over the manual collation of the presidential election results, saying the upper chamber never approved electronic transmission of results in the Electoral Act it passed.

Lawan said the senate only approved a transfer of the results after all the paper work had been done, with the party agents having copy of the results.

Responding to the wave of negative reactions to the elections, Yakubu said, “In accordance with the new Electoral Act, particularly, under section 65 of the Electoral Act, we will review the election where it is absolutely necessary.”

IPAC chairman, Yabagi Sani, however, urged INEC to continue with the result collation process, saying, “We are here with most of the members of the council. We are here to express our delight that this process should continue. This is because when democracy fails, political parties are the first casualties and the politicians are the biggest losers.

“Democracy is crucial to the people of this country and we believe that the elections are the fundamental pillars of our democracy. So, the mere fact that we held this election amid the current circumstances, we need to congratulate this country.”

Sani noted that IPAC was aware of the challenges in the country, and the unexpected developments the commission and political parties had to deal with.

He said, “From our findings, it is not uncommon to experience such in any technology usage. We believe that we are at a crossroads but Nigerians are highly resilient. We should summon up the courage to conclude this process.”

National Chairman of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Chief Dan Nwanyanwu, had also urged the INEC chairman to go ahead with the process.

Nwanyanwu stated, “Without prejudice to whatever challenges, we must not burn down Nigeria. Nigeria must exist first before we can become whatever we become. Nobody can believe that Lagos can fall to third force. Nobody believes that three governors will lose their senatorial seats. A state they governed for eight years.

“Nobody believes that an Okada rider is now moving to the House of Representatives. Party leaders lost their polling units and states. This is the same election we want to throw the baby with the bath water. So go ahead with the process.”

PDP, LP, ADC tell INEC Chairman to Resign

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP), and African Democratic Congress (ADC) called on the INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, to step down from further supervision of the ongoing result election collation process on account of his alleged biases.

The three parties made the call at a joint press conference in Abuja. They passed a vote of no confidence on the INEC chairman and played a tape of Yakubu promising last November that the BVAS machine would be used for this year’s elections, during an interaction with some international pre-election observers.

National Chairman of LP, Julius Abure, who read the text of the press conference said, “The conduct of the February 25, 2023 election has been marred by widespread violence, rigging, intimidation of voters, doctoring of the results, and violation of the laid down electoral process, which was communicated by the national electoral body, INEC.

“INEC had announced a process, which would require the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for accreditation and voting and that all election results would be electronically transmitted from polling units to INEC Servers.

“The above process, published repeatedly, announced, and agreed with INEC by all political parties was not followed, thereby leaving room for manipulation of the results after Nigerians had voted.

“The results announced by INEC so far show monumental disparities between the actual results reported by Labour Party agents, our party members, and, indeed, millions of Nigerians, on election day from the polling units. We have also listened to the arguments made by collation officers of the different political parties.

“The crux of the matter is the deliberate refusal of the INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, as the National Returning Officer for the presidential election, to respond to the demand of political parties for the commission to respect the pre-existing regulations that results of this election shall be uploaded on the INEC server through the Bio-modal Voter Accreditation System technology.”

Abure said INEC’s failure to comply with the laid down, published, and agreed process for the conduct of the election had compromised the integrity and credibility of the entire presidential election.

According to him, “In cases where they tried to upload the results, INEC officials assigned to polling units could not do so. In some cases, they revealed that they had directives from their superiors to not upload the results. In some cases, they said the password for them to access the INEC server had been changed. We also recall that the initial explanation by INEC for the delay was on account of glitches on the INEC server.

“Neither did INEC explain to the nation what the nature of those glitches was nor did the commission avail the country or even agents at the polling units that it will not be uploading the results generated at the polling units to the server, when it resolves those glitches. We are, therefore, constrained on this development to state that INEC compromised the integrity of this election even before collation began at the PUs.

“We have, therefore, arrived at the conclusion that the presidential election of Saturday, February 25, 2023, conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been irretrievably compromised and we have totally lost faith in the entire process.

“The Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party shall not be part of the process currently going on at the National Collation Centre, and we demand that this sham of an election should be immediately cancelled. We also call for a fresh election to be carried out within the window allowed by the Electoral Act and in accordance with the laid down INEC procedure for the conduct of the 2023 elections.

“We similarly call on the international community to note that the results being declared at the National Collation Centre have been heavily doctored and manipulated and do not reflect the wishes of Nigerians expressed at the polls on February 25, 2023.

“We also wish to declare a vote of no confidence on the INEC chairman, Professor Yakubu Mahmood. By his conduct and reaction to the complaints of disenfranchised political parties, we believe that he lacks the integrity and moral standing to continue to oversee this process to a conclusion.

“We are, therefore, calling for Professor Yakubu to step aside from his role as INEC Chairman and for a credible personality from outside the commission to take his place and see this process to a conclusion that would be acceptable to all stakeholders and would restore the confidence of the international community in our democratic process and institutions.”

Buttressing the facts that the collation of result was a mere allocation of results, National Chairman of PDP, Iyorchia Ayu, said identical results were awarded to parties in Bauchi and Gombe presidential results. For instance, he said, INEC awarded the same presidential results to PDP, APC and LP in Gombe and Bauchi states. Ayu explained that INEC awarded 146977 to APC, 319123 to PDP and 26160 to Labour Party in Gombe and repeated the same in Bauchi.

INEC: Calls for Yakubu’s Resignation Misplaced, Irresponsible

INEC described the calls by Labour Party (LP) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the resignation of the commission’s chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, as misplaced and irresponsible.

The presidential election agents of PDP, Senator Dino Melaye, and LP, Hon. Umar Farouk Ibrahim, had while addressing journalists on Monday after staging a walkout at the collation centre in Abuja accused the INEC chairman of rigging elections for the ruling party.

But, in a statement yesterday by Chief Press Secretary to the commission’s chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, INEC said contrary to the insinuation by the parties, results emanating from the states pointed to a free, fair and credible process.

Oyekanmi stated, “The call by the Labour Party and the Peoples Democratic Party on the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, to resign is misplaced. The allegation by Dino Melaye that the INEC chairman allocated scores to parties is unfounded and irresponsible.

“At the same time, contrary to the insinuation by both parties, results emanating from the states point to a free, fair and credible process. There are laid down procedures for aggrieved parties or candidates to follow when they are dissatisfied about the outcome of an election. Such procedures do not include calling on the INEC chairman to resign or for the election to be cancelled.”

Oyekanmi noted that aggrieved parties were free to approach the courts to ventilate their concerns and wait for the matter to be resolved, adding that inciting comments capable of causing violence or unrest are unacceptable.

He stressed that the 2023 general election process was in their final stages, and it was only fair for the aggrieved parties to allow the conclusion of the process and approach the courts with their evidences to pursue their cases.

CAN Demands Explanations on Failure of BVAS

The national leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said INEC had explanations to make to Nigerians on why the BVAS machines were not used in last Saturday’s elections as provided in the election guidelines.

A statement by CAN President, Archbishop Daniel C. Okoh, said, “It is important that explanation be given to Nigerians by INEC as to why the preventable lapses were not addressed in a timely manner.”

CAN said it noted with deep concern the recent developments in the country following the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections. It said despite the many assurances given by INEC about its level of preparedness for the polls, “it was observed in many quarters that last Saturday’s elections fell below the reasonable expectations of the people”

Okoh said elections were vital to the country’s stability and democratic consolidation, adding that the process must be conducted and concluded safely, fairly and credibly.

CAN, however, urged politicians and other stakeholders to avoid any action that could create needless tensions or stoke any form of violence that could put the country on a precipice.

Similarly, Nigerian Christian Elders Coalition (NCEC) alleged that INEC deliberately put the presidential poll in terrible disrepute, thereby, destroying the legitimacy of the election.

NCEC, which addressed journalists in Abuja, accused INEC and its chairman of flagrant abuse of both the Electoral Act 2022 Section 60(5) and the INEC 2022 Guidelines and Regulations for Conduct of Elections, Clause 38.

The group maintained that INEC arrogantly sidestepped and bypassed its own rules, guidelines and principles it had set up by itself for the 2023 presidential election and engaged in broad daylight election brigandage.

Leader of the group and Senior Pastor of Family Worship Centre (FWC), Sarah Omakwu, contended that the conduct of the presidential election fell below the threshold of transparent, free and credible election.

Omakwu was joined by Rev William Okoye, Associate Professor Sam Amadi, Professor Haruna Dabin, and Rev Austin Kemie, among others.

She explained, “The most distressing aspect of the conduct of the election was the refusal of INEC to electronically transmit the results of voting directly from the polling units to IREV platform as required by the Electoral Act.”

Omakwu said the failure was unbelievable and surprising, considering that the heart of the new Electoral Law was the mandatory electronic transmission of results to enhance the credibility of the process.

NLC: Results Not Reflecting Wishes of Nigerians will Spell Doom

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) warned that any election result that did not reflect the wishes of the people would not only spell doom for democracy, but also render the benefiting government illegitimate.

NLC, in a statement by its National President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, said sustainable governments were built on sovereign will. Ajaero added that such government was akin to a coup, though not a military one, organised by civilian INEC against the fundamental rights and choices of the people as expressed through the ballot last Saturday. 

The statement hinted that every government needed legitimacy to govern freely, stating that this could only be conferred by the will of the people freely given in an election. He stated that when that will was circumvented by whatsoever means, the government lost the very foundation it needed to be anchored to in order to find acceptance to govern.

Farotimi: President with Flawed Poll Suffers Legitimacy Crisis

Labour Party (LP) stalwart, Mr. Dele Farotimi, said any attempt to foist on Nigerians a new president based on an election that lacked credibility would result in legitimacy crisis.

Farotimi, who spoke on the Arise Television Morning Show programme on Tuesday, said there was no doubt that INEC breached its set guidelines by refusing to upload election results from the polling units.

The lawyer and politician expressed dismay over the apparent volte-face exhibited by the INEC chairman by failing to keep to his undertaking to ensure simultaneous uploading of polling unit results of the election.

Farotimi stated about the INEC chairman, “The man told Nigerians that INEC will upload results from the polling units. He kept using the word, Nigerians as citizens will be able to view the results on our INEC portal real time.”

On what would be the immediate response of his party, Farotimi said, “We are not going to organise protests over this matter.

“There is an adage that says when a thief carries what does not belong to him, the owner needs not panic, all he needs do is sit and watch the thief carry what he cannot carry.”

Asked whether LP and others raising concerns had facts to defend their allegations of malpractice by APC, Farotimii said, “There is basically nothing to change the mind-set of the electoral umpire or judiciary that were already compromised.

“But some people have elected to take the legal path, all those facts that you are talking about will, of course, form the basis of evidence that will be filed before the courts. For me, I believe there are two angles to this, it is not just a legal matter, it is a political matter. The citizenship of a person is first political before it becomes legal.”

On his position on the view expressed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, faulting the election process, Farotimii said he was in total agreement with Obasanjo.

The LP member said though people might question Obasanjo’s moral standing on the issue of credible election, “The fact remained that the elder statesman was correct in his condemnation of what took place during Saturday’s presidential election in the country.” He said the presidential poll came short of the credibility quotient required to pass for a free and fair process, adding that Yakubu has lost the confidence and trust of Nigerians to deliver a credible election.

Protesters Storm Collation Centre over Results Transmission

Scores of protesters from different political parties, yesterday, stormed the Presidential Collation Centre at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, to demand electronic transmission of results from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The protest took place at the nearby Emeka Anyaoku Street, Area 11, apparently due to the tight security cordon at the International Conference Centre.

The protesters expressed dissatisfaction at the failure of Yakubu to abide by his promise to relay the results of the elections via electronic transmission. They said Yakubu should fulfil his promise of a transparent and open election process.

One of the protesters, Lillian Kozau, who spoke with reporters, called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow his image to be tarnished and his legacy destroyed by INEC.

Kozau explained, “INEC assured us that it would be a transparent process. They assured us of a transparent process and that the BVAS would be used, which is supposed to be an electronic process. Yet, after three days, 23 states still need to be uploaded. Why? Does this mean we will be doing this for one week?

“Why will a result be deleted from a platform after it has been uploaded? What are they up to? All we asked for was a transparent process. We just wanted whoever we voted for to emerge as the president of this country. We just wanted hope; we just wanted things to work. We are not asking for too much.”

Another protester, Dr Lovett Izekor, asked the international community and the international election observers to mount pressure on the federal government to ensure INEC kept to the promise of electronic transition of results.

Lawan: Senate Didn’t Approve Electronic Results Transmission

Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, yesterday, intervened in the controversy over the manual collation of the presidential election results, saying the senate never approved electronic transmission of results in the Electoral Act it passed. Rather, Lawan said the senate only approved a transfer of the results after all the paper work had been done, with the agents having copy of the transmitted results.

Lawan spoke after plenary ended in a rowdy session during debate on a motion on the collation of the results of the 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections by INEC.

He said, “In the Electoral Act that we passed, there is nothing like the electronic transmission. What we have passed is to transfer after all the paper works that we normally do while the agents and everybody there have the papers. INEC will now scan or snap the result sheets and transfer them. We urge INEC to follow the Electoral Act and other laws on their guidelines.

“In this chamber, we are not going to interpret the Electoral Act. This is not a court of law. We are just to guide this debate and talk about the general principles of how this election and declaration should be done. There is no need to stress ourselves.

“What we are doing is to urge INEC to follow the law and the citizens should be calm.”

However, the Electoral Act 2022 clarified the issue of electoral result transmission, thus, “’electronic format’ refers to the electronic version of the Register of Voters or National Electronic Register of Election Results, as the case maybbe, created, recorded, transmitted or stored in digital form or in other intangible forms by electronic, magnetic or optical means or by any other means that has capabilities for creation, recording, transmission or storage similar to those means and which may be converted to or reproduced in a paper document.”

Lawan said the right thing was for aggrieved persons to go to court.”

The senator representing Kwara Central, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, who cited Orders 41 and 51, had presented a motion on the need to call for calm and appeal to political parties, stakeholders and Nigerians to abide by the rule of law on the electoral process in the just concluded election. Supported by his colleagues in the All Progressives Congress (APC), he said it was important for the highest legislative body to bring calm to the raging storm among political parties.

Oloriegbe urged all political actors, leaders, and every Nigerian to remain calm and allow the collation and announcement of the presidential and National Assembly elections to proceed based on the provisions of the Electoral Act.

Contributing, Senator Sani Musa (APC, Niger East,) said since Nigerians did not vote electronically, the issue of asking INEC to release results in real-time was unnecessary, because the Electoral Act did not mandate the electoral umpire to do so.

Musa said, “It is very clear that accreditation and verification are to be done by the BVAS. We are not voting electronically for that real-time transmission to happen. Transmission can only happen after it has been published on BVAS. So it is not real-time. We are not a court to interpret but INEC has a responsibility to stick to guidelines.

“It is a simple process and that process after publishing, they send it to back-end servers and it is after then that INEC can put it on IREV. INEC has been attacked over 160 times and nobody has been making any issue about that.”

The senator representing Ekiti Central senatorial district, Opeyemi Bamidele (APC), told the electoral umpire to do the right thing based on the Electoral Act and urged that Nigerians should be patient for INEC to complete the process while also calling on the judiciary to do the right thing. Bamidele added that the Judiciary should not allow itself to be dragged into interfering with the elections.

The session became rowdy when Senator Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers West) said it was wrong to bring up the issues at such a “critical time.” Apiafi explained that it was not in the place of the senate to prescribe what the guidelines should be.

The senator representing Benue North West, Emmanuel Orker-Jev (PDP), supported his colleague, and stated that it was best for the Red Chamber to maintain neutrality on the issue.

“The best way is to step down this order because if we are already generating this kind of controversy, imagine what will happen out there,” Orker-Jev said.

Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa (PDP, Bauchi North) also noted that the senate should steer clear of the issues due to the controversy surrounding it, saying, “Whatever happens in the collation centre and the social media, the senate should not be involved in it.

Minority Whip, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North), said, “I think we have exhaustively looked at issues concerned here. As a parliament, it is our duty to stabilise the polity, to calm the nerves of people that are agitated as a result of the last election on 25th February.

Anambra Central senator, Uche Ekwenife, said, “This is a very controversial matter; everywhere is tense, and people are very apprehensive. The only way out of it is for INEC to stick to the constitution and the Electoral Act. INEC should stick to their guideline. That is the only solution.”

Ekiti South senator, Biodun Olujimi, said, “This process is still an ongoing process and INEC should follow its guidelines and the Electoral Law. We should not ignite violence and the best way is to ask everybody to maintain peace and order while we go through this process and finish it properly.”

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