Presidency refutes claim
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has raised the alarm over alleged secret meetings involving the presidency,the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and some security forces where the agencies were ordered to use official and unofficial means necessary to ensure victory for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November 21 Kogi State governorship election.
But in a swift reaction, the presidency denied the allegation, saying President Muhammadu Buhari only called a meeting with the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase and INEC to tell them to provide a level-playing field for all the contestants.
According to the PDP: “We have incontrovertible records of separate meetings, late last week between the Presidency and the new INEC leadership as well as with some top security officers, which were coordinated by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal, who boasted that he has President Muhammadu Buhari’s orders to ensure that Kogi State is wrestled from the PDP by all means,” PDP said.
In a statement issued on Sunday by the National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, the party described the move as a coup against democracy.
It warned that the new INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, must note that his legacy is at stake.
“We alert all to be aware of this planned ‘coup’ against democracy again, by the now ‘new sherrif’, who though, being the biggest beneficiary of free and fair election in the history of Nigeria, is now out to corrupt the electoral system and destroy our democracy, all in the obsession to foist a one-party state in the country.
“Intelligence information available to us shows that at the meeting with the new INEC leadership under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the commission was given orders regarding the posting of compromised personnel to strategic areas in the state to manipulate the card readers as well as the actual voting process in favour of the APC, with assurance of adequate protection by government security agencies, particularly the Directorate of State Services (DSS).
“We are aware that in another meeting also held in Abuja, the Presidency directed summoned security officials to ensure that the forces are maximally used to intimidate the people with a view to pave way for compromised INEC officials to manipulate the process, alter ballot figures and announce doctored results.
“To kick off the rigging process and underscore the desperation to take over Kogi State, the President himself is billed to be in the state on Wednesday to endorse the APC candidate, Alhaji Audu Abubakar, a man facing charges for corruption.
“It is to say the least, an embarrassing miscarriage of justice that the same President who rode to power on much publicised anti-corruption credentials, would not only superintend over plots to corrupt the electoral process but also endorse a man facing corruption charges as his governorship candidate.
“Whereas majority of Nigerians have seen through the cosmetic anti-corruption stance of the President Buhari-led APC government, the PDP wishes to state in the strongest possible terms that the people of Kogi state love their Governor and are fully in support of his re-election bid. We therefore caution the President and the APC to watch their steps as their plots have not only been exposed, but will also be stiffly resisted by the people.
“In this regard, the new INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu must note that his legacy is at stake and that the Kogi election is for him, an iron test. Prof. Yakubu must immediately distance himself and the commission from this planned ‘coup’ against democracy or be ready to hold himself responsible should there be any breakdown of law and order in the state during and after the elections.
“Let it be known to President Buhari, the APC, INEC and security forces that no amount of force, intimidation and manipulation can bend the will of the people of Kogi State in their preference for the PDP and Governor Idris Wada, and that they will not accept any results that do not reflect their wishes and aspirations at the poll.
“Finally, we call on all Nigerians and the international community to note that our president does not believe in free and fair election, though himself being a huge beneficiary of same. He has ordered the rigging of the November 21 governorship election in Kogi State, an ignoble planned overthrow of democracy, for which he is now leading in the front,” the party said.
However, presidency in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, said Buhari called the meeting cited by the PDP to warn in particular, the INEC and the police to prepare and give the nation a credible election.
The president said he expected nothing short of a free, fair and credible election.
He said the president reportedly told the police and INEC that he had suffered election manipulations in 2003, 2007 and 2011 and would not like to have any Nigerian go through that again.
Shehu said the president warned against the intimidation of voters in anyway and vowed that he was prepared to move with all the force available to him against anyone who would undermine the rights of any citizen.
“The meeting was short and straight to the point. It ended after five minutes.
“He asked the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, if he had anything to say and he added nothing.
“Nigerians should be wary of the PDP’s fruitless attempts to destroy national institutions President Buhari is determined to rebuild.
“They started with the courts, then the EFCC, then onto the police and now they are on the one-week old INEC. When will PDP allow our national institutions to do their job?” he asked.