The National Chairman of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Abdullahi Adamu, has admitted that the presidential and National Assembly elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on 25th February 2023 were not perfect. Adamu made this known in his speech on Monday during a meeting between the leadership of the APC National Working Committee, the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, and members of the National Assembly elected on the platform of the party.
The closed-door meeting was held at the Banquet Hall in the State House, Abuja. Adamu noted that despite the challenges, the ruling party won the presidential election “clean and clear.” Speaking on the lapses, Adamu said that even though the elections were not perfect, he noted that a perfect election may be an impossible target.
According to his words; “I congratulate all the distinguished men and women elected. I salute you all. You are the new team Nigeria. From May 29 this year, the burden of our national unity, peace, and development will rest on your shoulders as a team.
“It is fair and honourable to admit that the February 25, 2023 elections were not perfect. We did not set out to conduct perfect elections. World history has no instances of perfect elections. Like all other democratic nations, we set out to conduct free, fair, and credible elections. This we did. I am proud to say we achieved this feat and delivered on the promise made by President Muhammadu Buhari to the people. For the first time in the history of our elections, there were no allegations of vote-buying and outcry over all the other ills associated with the conduct of our elections. Rigging may not be dead, but it has been decapitated. Our democracy is maturing, and we are maturing with it.
“From the results of February 25, 2023 general elections announced so far by the electoral body INEC, the APC won the presidency, clean and clear, and a majority in both chambers of the National Assembly. We chose not to rout the other political parties because they are our partners in our national progress and development,” he stated.
Some opposition and their candidates have rejected the outcome of the election, particularly the presidential election, which INEC declared Ahmed Tinubu as winner on 1st March 2023. The candidates of the Labour Party, Peter Obi and the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, have vowed to challenge the outcome of the election at the election petition tribunal.
However, The Independednt National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it is willing to make available all necessary documents on the 25 February, 2023 presidential election for inspection by interested parties. Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman, INEC, said this when he received a team of lawyers from the Labour Party (LP) led by Livy Uzoukwu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), in Abuja on Monday. Yakubu acknowledged the receipt of a letter from the LP dated 6 March, notifying it that the team would visit for inspection of election materials.
He said that the letter also requested the commission to get in touch with its Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) across the 36 states and the FCT to make the documents available for the prosecution of the LP’s petition. Yakubu said that INEC had scheduled a virtual meeting with all the RECs to discuss among other issues, the matter of providing Certified True Copies (CTCs) not only to the LP but to all other litigants.
“I want to assure you that the commission will not hide any document from anybody and will make available any document that they have requested. Please be assured that INEC has nothing to hide; whatever you are asking for will be made available to you. There are two categories of documents that are in possession of the headquarters of INEC. We will easily make these documents available to you,’’ he said.
Yakubu said other documents being sought for were at the states level, saying that INEC would work out a schedule to know when the team would visit the states, so as to easily facilitate not just certification of documents, but also the inspection requested for each of the documents.
“The other one is accreditation data from the back end. This will also be made available to you. Remember that the accreditation data covers over 176,000 polling units. We have to print them, physically certify them, and give them to you so the tall and short of what I am saying is that you will get this document speedily,” he said.
Yakubu urged the LP legal team to interface with INEC’s legal team immediately to work out things. Speaking, Mr Uzoukwu, Lead Council to the LP Presidential Legal Team, said the visit was to prepare ground for the inspection of the materials for the presidential election.
“As you all know, election petitions are time sensitive, we have 21 days to file a petition on behalf of our clients and out of that 21 days we probably have about 10 days to go and up till now we have not received any documents. We have written to INEC requesting for documents apart from that, the Court of Appeal made an order on March 3, ordering INEC to release those documents to us but we haven’t received any hence requested for a meeting with the chairman of finance.
“INEC graciously granted that audience within a very short notice, and he has given us assurance, concrete assurance on record that all documents we require will be made available and if possible, some of them will be made available to us today,’’ he said.
Mr Uzoukwu said the team believed that INEC would respond as promised adding that “we are leaving here rest assured that at least we will leave with some documents, the rest can then come from tomorrow and so on and so forth. At least if we get some of them today, that is indicative that we’ll get some other documents from tomorrow, next tomorrow to enable us to fight this petition,’’ he said.
Chief Spokesperson for Obi/Datti presidential campaign council, Tanko Yusuf, said the party gave an ultimatum for INEC to make available the documents failure of which it would mobilize its members to demonstrate against INEC nationwide.
He said that graciously the chairman of INEC having read that particular statement granted them the opportunity to come and liaise with him and he has assured the team of lawyers to present these documents. Mr Yusuf said however, that the INEC chairman granted the party’s request for its lawyers to assess the documents.
“So we want to wait and see the responses of our legal team, it is the legal team that will give us the marching order. When they are satisfied with what they have received from INEC so that our members nationwide and worldwide will be satisfied that we are doing our job and they are ready to prosecute this case accordingly,” he said.
Apart from the LP, the presidential candidate of the People Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, is also challenging the result of the 25 February 2023 presidential election.
Also, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, has ordered swift conclusion of all investigations related to violations of the Electoral Act during the 25th February 2023 general elections. The IGP gave the order to commissioners of police in charge of commands nationwide.
In a statement issued by Police Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, in Abuja on Monday, the IGP said such case files should be forwarded to INEC for prosecution of the suspects. He directed the commissioners to avoid further delay and ensure thoroughness in the investigations.
On the forthcoming elections, The IGP told the police commissioners to engage stakeholders in their jurisdictions through town hall meetings and other viable avenues to ensure a smooth exercise. The IGP said the police would operate in a manner that would allow Nigerians to actively participate in the 18th March 2023 Governorship and State House of Assembly elections.
He urged men and officers of the force to ensure an all-inclusive election security management during the polls. The IGP also enjoined the public to cooperate with the police and other law enforcement agencies to ensure effective security during the elections. ”Our interest is to protect everybody, the electorate, accredited observers, INEC officials and materials,” he stated.
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