The controversy over a server containing the presidential election’s results has refused to go away, despite the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) saying it has no such server.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) aligns with INEC at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, which it urged to reject the request by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to access the “server” from which it claimed the results were generated.
European Union (EU) observers corroborated INEC’s stand in their report, which they released at the weekend.
To the Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, the EU Report has vindicated the ruling APC that the electoral umpire did not generate results from any server. Okechukwu spoke yesterday in Enugu.
In the report, the EU EOM scored key actors in the elections low – a position the PDP hailed.
The actors knocked by the EU in the final report on the 2019 poll are: INEC, major political parties and security agencies.
Okechukwu, who is also a chieftain of the APC, said he was glad to hear the Deputy Chief of the EU Observer Mission, Hannah Roberts, agreeing with the reality of relying on results that were released by INEC.
Okechukwu said: “Some of us have been vindicated, as our position has been that INEC did not generate the 2019 general elections result from a server.
“We have maintained that it’s trite in law that one cannot build something out of nothing; accordingly, we agree with EU election observer mission’s denial of knowledge of the existence of the so called server used by INEC to conduct 2019 general elections.”
According to him, “what amuses one is the paradox in the PDP canvass that in one breath, INEC conducted elections transparently in Adamawa, Bauchi, Imo, Oyo, Zamfara etc, where it won and in another breath, manipulated the results in axis it lost.
“Methink, it’s wrong to gloss over the truism that President Muhammadu Buhari has a 12 million vote-bank, which had been on display in 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019 presidential elections.
“Therefore, Facebook Sever or Twitter Server, the hard fact is that Buhari has cult followership, which is only comparable to that of Malam Aminu Kano or Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sarduna of Sokoto, both of blessed memory, in the North. Nobody can erase this hard fact,’’ he said.
On the EU report’s pointing out systemic failings seen in the elections, voter apathy and call for fundamental electoral reforms, Okechukwu noted that Buhari had promised a holistic reform of the electoral system.
“I’m in league with statement emanating from the presidency that Buhari will work with all Nigerian citizens, state institutions, civil society, the media and other experts to make sure that there will be proper electoral reforms.
“Let me plead with INEC to gradually commence the introduction of e-Voting (Electronic-Voting) in the off cycle state elections, as preparatory ground for full implementation.
“We must remind ourselves that there was a time when one eminent citizen said that telephone is not for the poor, but today the groundnut hawker in his village has smart phone. We must commence e-voting as a matter of urgent national importance”
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP Sunday commended the EU on its final report in a statement in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, who lauded the union for stating the facts on the elections.
He said that the fresh revelation in the EU report vindicated the position of PDP on the elections.
The statement reads: “Nigerians are still in shock over the revelations by EU of how about 2.8 million votes were deliberately ‘cancelled without sufficient accountability’ and how several returning officers gave no reason for the cancellations.
The PDP said more shocking was the distortions and “a large discrepancy of 1.66 million more registered voters, as announced by INEC on January 14, compared to those announced by state returning officers during the collation of presidential results.”
Ologbondiyan alleged that returning officers were unable to reconcile result figures. He said that the EU report exposed how ballot boxes were compromised, how essential materials were missing, how “voter register was not always ticked as required” and how “manual authentication procedures were not correctly followed”.
“The report on result forms did not reconcile how result forms were not publicly posted, how “result forms and smart card readers were not packed in tamper-evident envelops as required,” he said.
“Moreover, the report has further reinforced the confidence of millions of Nigerians in our collective expectation of justice in the quest to retrieve our stolen presidential mandate at the tribunal.
“The PDP condemns such crime against our nation, in sabotaging the sanctity of our electoral processes to frustrate the choice of Nigerians in a presidential election, must be brought to book and made to face the wrath of the law.”