The opposition party accused the presidency of usurping the functions of INEC.
The Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN has slammed the presidency for what it said are attempts to usurp the role of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC by describing the re-run election to the Imo House of Assembly in Oguta as inconclusive.
In a statement issued in Ado-Ekiti on Wednesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said it was up to INEC to determine whether the election was ‘inconclusive’ or marred by ‘violence and irregularities’, not the presidency.
”To the best of our knowledge, it is either the candidates or the parties involved in an election that can take a legal recourse over any perceived irregularities. It therefore baffles us that the presidency has rushed to declare the election inconclusive and marred by rigging, and to call for the prosecution of those involved, simply because its preferred candidate lost,” the statement said.
President Goodluck Jonathan had declared the election inconclusive while addressing some former senators on Tuesday.
“Those who made it impossible for the rerun election in Oguta to be conclusive must be brought to book. We must make it clear that impunity in the perpetration of violence and irregularities during elections will no longer be tolerated. Sanctions, promptly imposed on guilty persons, will deter others from engaging in such acts in future,” Mr. Jonathan was quoted as saying by his spokesman, Reuben Abati.
The ACN has now faulted the president’s claim.
”According to the information at our disposal, INEC cancelled the results in eight of the 232 polling booths for one reason or the other. That is less than 4% of the total number of booths, and it is definitely not enough to make an election ‘inconclusive’, as the presidency did by assuming the role of an umpire,” it said.
ACN also accused the presidency of being selective in its quest for the prosecution of those who rig or engage in violence during elections, wondering where the presidency was when the last Ondo State gubernatorial election was marred by massive rigging and violence.
”Let’s be clear: It is not the business of the presidency to pronounce any election inconclusive or marred by violence. That is the business of INEC. The presidency is wrong in trying to pre-empt INEC, simply because the PDP candidate lost the election to the Okorocha faction of APGA. Would the presidency have raised the alarm if the victor had come from the Obi faction of APGA? Why didn’t the presidency speak up over the Ondo State Governorship election that was marred by massive violence and rigging? Is it because its favoured candidate won?
”We are the undisputed advocate of free and fair elections, one man, one vote and of peaceful conduct of polls. But we will not support selective perception, as the presidency is now doing. There must be no sacred cows. Whoever perpetrates rigging or violence must be brought to justice, whether or not they belong to the ruling/favoured parties,” the party said.
It said the presidency is jittery because it is afraid that the outcome of the election in Oguta may be a referendum on the leadership of President Jonathan and a sign of things to come.
”The presidency should be prepared for more of the drubbing they received in Oguta, because henceforth, that is what will happen to the PDP in subsequent elections. It is a sign of things to come, hence the presidency is right to be jittery. But what it has no right to do is to usurp the role of election umpire or assume the role of a political party,” the ACN said.