INEC chair, Yakubu fights back as calls for his dismissal, prosecution persist

INEC chair, Yakubu frets as calls for his dismissal, prosecution continue with the LP hitting him

INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, has reacted to the Labour Party’s call that he should be immediately dismissed and prosecuted. The party’s call is following the same pattern as those of many other groups and individuals including the European Union (EU) that criticized the conduct of the general elections as falling below par.

The Director General of the Labour Party (LP) Presidential Campaign Organisation, Akin Osuntokun, said on Thursday that Mr Yakubu, INEC spokesperson, Festus Okoye, and other top officials of the commission ought to be sanctioned by the international community for their role in conducting an election that he said was not impartial.

“We also demand unequivocally, the immediate dismissal from Office and prosecution of Prof Mahmud Yakubu,” he said at a press briefing in the party’s National headquarters in Abuja on Thursday.

The LP presidential candidate in the last election, Peter Obi, who came third, is challenging the victory of President Bola Tinubu in an election conducted by Mr Yakubu’s commission.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who came second, is also challenging Mr Tinubu’s victory in court.

Need for forensic investigation

Apart from calling for dismissal, Mr Osuntokun also called for a forensic investigation into the expenditure of the 2023 general elections including the donors’ funds received by INEC and especially the N300 billion from the Nigerian government.

The LP Campaign DG listed parts of election observer groups’ reports that highlighted flaws in the recent general election.

He said: “The EU Election Observation Mission, as well as the Civil Society Situation Room, NDI -IRI, YIAGA etc are all INEC accredited observer groups, as well as very credible and long standing international and local stakeholders, in the Nigeria democratic process, whose reports are an essential contribution towards strengthening Nigeria’s democracy,” he said.

Mr Osuntokun condemned the negative responses that trailed the EU report from the Nigerian government.

President Bola Tinubu had rejected the EU-EOM report, describing it as “a product of a poorly done desk job”, in a statement by his spokesperson, Dele Alake.

Yakubu reacts

But Mr Yakubu’s media aide, Rotimi Oyekanmi, described the LP’s calls for his dismissal as familiar, saying it is misplaced.

He said the LP does not have the jurisdiction to demand the dismissal and prosecution of the INEC chairman over the outcome of an election in which the party fielded candidates.

He wondered why the LP, which is in court to challenge the outcome of the 2023 presidential election, would still go about openly advocating the issues before the court at press conferences, describing it as sub judice.

“The reasons adduced by the party for making the demand is not only illogical, but also ridiculous,” he countered.

“Interestingly, arising from the outcome of the same 2023 General Election, the Labour Party has now produced one state governor, eight senators, 35 House of Representatives members and 38 members of the State Houses of Assembly,” he added.

Mr Oyekanmi also said the election observer groups accredited by INEC had specific rules and regulations that required them to submit their reports to the commission.

“Such reports may or may not include their recommendations,” he said.

According to him, indicting the commission is not within the purview of the election observer groups.

“Therefore, it is not within the remit of any election observer whatsoever to indict INEC. They are to observe, make recommendations if they have any, but never to indict,” he said.

“The Labour Party is one of the 18 political parties registered and being regulated by INEC in Nigeria. The party will do well by restricting itself to activities permitted under the rules and regulations governing the conduct of political parties.”

The LP is not the only opposition party that has called for the resignation and prosecution of Mahmood following his alleged compromise in the handling of the 2023 presidential election.

Another party that wants the INEC boss fired is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). As far back as 11 March, 2023, the PDP demanded that security agencies such as the Department of State Services and the Police investigate and prosecute Prof. Mahmood Yakubu over his alleged complicity in the criminal manipulation and alteration of election results. National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, said this at a press conference, at the party’s National Secretariat, Abuja.

The PDP Spokesman said, “Prof. Mahmood Yakubu’s exit as Chairman of INEC will be the first step towards sanitizing the Electoral Commission and restoring the confidence of Nigerians especially as the nation prepares for the rescheduled March 18, 2023, Governorship and State Assembly elections.

“Furthermore, the PDP demands that the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of the Directorate of State Services (DSS) immediately commence investigations into the electoral violations and manipulations by INEC with the view to prosecuting Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and other officials of the Commission for electoral offences.”

He explained that these demands came after the party reviewed the widely-condemned infractions, brazen violation of the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and alteration of election results by the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu-led INEC and came to the conclusion that it was aimed at subverting the will of Nigerians in the February 25, 2023 Presidential and National Assembly Elections.

Ologunagba equally said, “The PDP has also reviewed the latest scheme by INEC to reconfigure the BVAS devices, erase and destroy evidence of its manipulation of the Presidential election, deny Nigerians and political parties, especially our Party and Candidate access to relevant information required to prosecute our case at the Presidential Election Tribunal.

“From all indications, the INEC under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu was compromised to rig the election by brazenly violating the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 as well as INEC’s Regulations, Guidelines and Manual issued for the election.

“It is also obvious that the Commission under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu deliberately sabotaged the uploading and transmission of results directly from the Polling Units to give room for the criminal mutilation, alteration and switching of election results across the nation in favour of the APC as now abundantly exposed in the pictorial and video evidence of compromised results sheets in many parts of the Country.”

Recently, renowned Nigerian rapper, Folarin Falana, AKA Falz in similar vein gave reasons why he called out the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yabuku in his new song.

He said the song titled ‘Yakubu’ is based on “his truth” about the elections.

The Singer who decried the violence and manipulation that marred the elections said ”INEC’s performance at the just concluded elections was a big mess”.

“There’s absolutely nothing I’m saying on this record or Vector is saying on this record that hasn’t occurred,” he said.

“We are not fabricating facts, we are not making things up, we are not painting a scenario that did not occur.

“We are telling you things as they happened.”

“We went out there, we voted and suddenly, everything was scattered before our very eyes. Absolutely nothing was done about that and even upon all the numerous cases of violence that we witnessed,” Falz stated.

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