The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday refused to sign the result sheet of the presidential election which was announced Monday morning by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja.
INEC declared President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) re-elected having won the highest votes of 15,191, 847 votes to defeat his closest rival, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, who polled 11,262,978 votes.
Mr Buhari won in 19 states while Atiku won in 17 states and the Federal Capital Territory
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the PDP Agent, Osita Chidoka, left the hall at the National Collation Centre when the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, started calling on party agents to come forward to sign the result sheet.
Mr Chidoka, a former Minister of Aviation, in an interview with journalists on his way out said that the party does not accept the election result as representing the valid votes of Nigerians, due to three issues it earlier raised.
He said the party had expected INEC to project data provided by Smart Card Readers used for accreditation of voters.
“The second one is the issue we raised about the number of registered vis-à-vis if what the chairman now calls collated voters means that 1.6 million people are missing in the voter register.
“We think that the issue is substantial enough to require a resolution.
“We also believe that difference between the accredited voters and the total votes cast which came to about 750,000 votes, require an issue to be looked at.
“Finally, we believe that INEC needs to look at the cancellations that took place in the election impacting 2.7 million.
“So, in our view, this election needs to be looked at again and possibly we would have had a re-run, more importantly.
“We think that INEC should have looked consciously to the use of the card reader, the absence of card reader is a major violation in the election, it renders that election null and void, and that is what the chairman promised us.
“So, for us in the PDP, we believe that this is a new low in Nigeria’s electoral history.’’
Mr Chidoka, however, said that the PDP remained a very lawful party, saying “we believe in the law, we believe in the constitution of Nigeria.
“We are committed democrats. The PDP is a party that entrenched democracy in Nigeria. The PDP is the party that made it possible for Nigeria to enjoy the fruit and dividend of democracy.
“We will continue to support democracy in Nigeria, we will continue to promote democracy in Nigeria but we have a good message for Nigerians.
“We want them to remain peaceful, we will explore all our options, including the belief that the legal process in Nigeria is one of the way to resolve issues.’’
Mr Chidoka had earlier raised concern about the non-usage of card readers for the election in some places while calling on INEC to provide details of the number of accredited voters with card readers.
He also expressed concern in the disparity in the number of registered voters for states, while also calling on INEC to restore the votes of the party alleged to have been cancelled.
Meanwhile, Mr Yakubu, responding before the announcement of the result, said that the difference in the valid votes and cancellation were insignificant to impact on the general outcome of the election.
He said the observations raised by party agents, including that of the PDP, would be useful for future elections, including those of 2023.
Mr Yakubu said while the commission noticed that the figures of accredited voters in relation to vote-cast did not add up in one or two instances, preliminary investigation revealed that the cumulative disparity was actually less than two per cent.
“Secondly, we also very strongly believe that the widespread incidents of ballot box snatching, particularly in many areas after voting means that you have data on the smart card reader but not backed up by actual ballot because the ballot was either hijacked, burnt down or destroyed.
“Therefore the information on the smart card reader is slightly to be higher than the actual ballot, meaning the vote cast, but this is only by way of preliminary investigation.
“Yes, we believed that there have been cancellations; however in the case of the presidential election, the cancellations do not affect the conclusion of the process. ‘’
Mr Yakubu added that the disparity in the figure did not also affect the total number of people who voted in the election, as they are well below the number of PVCs collected.
“The voter turnout for the 2019 general elections from the analysis we just concluded is 35.66 per cent.’’