As campaigns for next year’s general elections intensify, the major political parties and the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC have been trading accusations and counter accusations on alleged plans to rig the elections.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said yesterday that the move by the electoral commission to create polling centers in Internally Displaced Persons’, IDP’s, camps in the northern part of the country was a plot hatched by the All Progressives Congress, APC, in connivance with INEC to rig the general elections. Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
INEC, immediately took objection to this accusation describing it as hate speech capable of putting its permanent and ad hoc staff at risk during the elections.
The ruling party, in its reaction said Nigerians were bored and tired of PDP’s daily threatrics and challenged the party tell Nigerians why it should be voted back to power.
Firing the first salvo yesterday, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, at a press conference noted that all IDP camps in country fall within the catchment area of an already delineated polling unit. According to him, “for the purposes of emphasis, the PDP rejects all forms of fraudulent ‘special arrangements’ tailored to rig this election. Our party insists that elections must only hold in statutorily designated polling centers across our country. The PDP and indeed, Nigerians are not ready to accept any fabricated result from any illegal polling center created to assist President Buhari to rig the election.”
INEC has however debunked the allegations by the PDP that it was working in cahoot with the presidency and the ruling All Progressives Congress APC to create “special polling units” for Internally Displaced Persons IDPs with the sole intent to rig next year’s general elections.
Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu told Saturday Vanguard that the allegation by the PDP amounts to some form of hate speech against the Commission. His words: “I find it distasteful that Mr Kola Ologbondiyan can deliberately embark on peddling complete falsehood about the Independent National Electoral Commission in this manner, with the sole intent of discrediting all the good efforts being put in place to ensure credible 2019 General Elections. “The story about the possibility of so called Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) located in Chad and Niger republic voting in the 2019 general elections was as a result of a misrepresentation of facts by a newspaper in its story on the Validation Conference in respect of the Framework for Voting for Internally Displaced Persons, held on12th December in Abuja, for which the Commission had to promptly issue a rebuttal.
“Everybody knows that displaced persons living in foreign countries cannot be regarded as IDPs but refugees and there is no provision in our laws for any Nigerian living outside Nigeria to vote during the 2019 general elections. “But Kola Ologbondiyan has continued to insist that the Commission is planning to establish 30,000 polling units and give the so-called IDPs in foreign countries the opportunity to vote in the general elections. “What this man is doing, by implication, is to put the lives of INEC permanent and adhoc staff, especially the young National Youth Service Corps members at risk during the 2019 general elections with his continuous portrayal of the Commission as untrustworthy and fraudulent.
“This is not what Nigerians need at this time. This is certainly not the way to be an excellent spokesperson. “INEC is not a political party. The Commission is not planning to establish any new polling units anywhere. Our only interest is to conduct free, fair and credible general elections in 2019 and we require the cooperation of all stakeholders, including political parties, to achieve this objective.
“My strong advice to Kola Ologbodiyan is that he should stop what I can safely describe as hate speech against INEC, for the good of the country and democracy”, he stated.