Ruling party’s candidate Bola Tinubu (C) flanked by his deputy Shettima and wife Remi, addresses supporters in Abuja on March 1, 2023 during celebrations at his campaign headquarters. – Ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu won Nigeria’s highly disputed weekend election, electoral authorities said on Wednesday, securing the former Lagos governor the presidency of Africa’s most populous democracy. With President Muhammadu Buhari stepping down after two terms, many Nigerians hoped Saturday’s vote would usher in a leader capable of tackling the country’s widening insecurity, economic malaise and growing poverty. (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)
• Comply with electoral laws on results collation, Jonathan, West African leaders tell INEC
• PDP, LP insist on cancellation of poll
• Okowa, Datti accuse INEC chairman of playing to a predetermined script
• INEC has returned Nigeria to pre-2015 era, says NNPP
• Halt results collation now, CUPP tells INEC
• Emulate Jonathan, congratulate Tinubu now, APC tells Atiku, Obi
• Obi’s win of FCT raises questions about possible run off
• 25% in FCT not needed to be declared president, say Falana, Sagay
• Calls for Yakubu’s resignation irresponsible, misplaced – INEC
• Tinubu files suit to stop PDP, LP from stopping collation
After a tension-soaked wait, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), this morning, declared presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as winner of Saturday’s election.
At exactly 4:10a.m., INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, announced Tinubu the president-elect, putting a fitting finale to a lifelong ambition of the former Lagos State governor, who had summed up his presidential race with the famous Yoruba word, Emilokan. He will collect his certificate of return at 3:00p.m. later today.
He finished with 8,794,726, nearly two million more votes than his fiercest challengers, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who scored 6,984,520 and Labour Party (LP)’s Peter Obi, who got 6,101,533. The total votes cast was 24,965,218, out of which 939,278 were rejected votes.
The drama before the announcement got intense, yesterday, with more protests trailing the conduct of the election. Undaunted by the criticisms, INEC resumed collation of results at the national collation centre in Abuja, releasing the remaining states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
With the latest count, Atiku won 12 states, Tinubu also won 12 states and Labour Party (LP)’s Peter Obi got 11 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
However, leaders in the West African sub-region have called on INEC to comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 on the collation of results for the presidential and National Assembly elections. Former President Goodluck Jonathan, ex-Ghanaian President John Mahama and other members of the West African Elders Forum (WAEF) Election Mission to Nigeria made this known in a statement yesterday in Abuja.
They appealed for calm in the country, while calling on INEC to address the concerns and procedural questions raised so far by different stakeholders.
According to them, INEC’s compliance will retain the confidence of Nigerians in the ongoing collation of Saturday’s election results.
As part of moves to ensure post-election peace, the elders met with the candidates, including Tinubu, Atiku, Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
Earlier on Tuesday, the LP, PDP and African Democratic Congress (ADC) said deliberate refusal of the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to respect the upload of results electronically as stipulated by Section 60 of the Electoral Act 2022 is unacceptable.
The three parties said the results so far by INEC showed “monumental disparities” between what the party agents signed at different local government areas in the states and what INEC officials announced in Abuja.
They said the manual transmission of results compromised the integrity of the process and demanded a cancellation of the election, while asking the electoral chief to step down.
On Monday, party agents had staged a walkout from the national collation centre after Yakubu insisted that the process must continue despite that all the results were not electronically transmitted.
Yesterday, the major opposition parties, PDP, LP and ADC have called for Saturday’s election to be cancelled. They also demanded that INEC chairman, Yakubu, step aside for his alleged role in the compromise of the process.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on behalf of other aggrieved political parties, LP chairman, Julius Abure, described the election as a rape on democracy.
Abure, who was flanked by PDP National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, ADC National Chairman, Ralph Nwosu, alleged that the election was marred by widespread violence, rigging, intimidation of voters, doctoring of results and violation of the laid down electoral process, which was communicated by INEC.
He said: “INEC had announced a process, which would require the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for accreditation and voting and that all results would be electronically transmitted from PUs to INEC Servers.”
He added that the process, published repeatedly, announced and agreed with INEC by all political parties, was not followed, thereby leaving room for manipulation of the results after Nigerians had voted.
According to him, the results announced by INEC, so far, showed monumental disparities between the actual results reported by party agents, party members, and indeed millions of Nigerians, on election day from the PUs.
Toeing same line, NNPP said INEC, under Yakubu, has taken the country back to pre-2014 era, where ballot-snatching, vote buying, connivance of security agents among other ills were the order of the day. The party, therefore, called for the immediate cancellation of Saturday’s presidential election.
NNPP’s national chairman, Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali, who stated this at a press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday, said the election was marred by various irregularities ranging from vote buying, violence, voters’ disenfranchisement, BVAS malfunction, among others.
Alkali also accused INEC of displaying hostility towards NNPP. He noted that the most disturbing one was when INEC shut the party from submitting its candidates into INEC Server days before the deadline.
Alkali said: “We have returned to the era where people who do not participate in an election are declared winners of the election. For instance, in Kano, Ibrahim Shekarau, who formally resigned from NNPP, withdrew from the race, registered with the PDP, conveyed same to the party and to INEC, but the Commission went ahead to declare him winner of an election under NNPP.
He observed that the embarrassing decision of INEC to close down the iReV Server might not be unconnected with the widespread failure of the BVAS across the country.
He noted that in majority of the Polling Units (PUs) across rural communities, the BVAS machine failed to work.
“This very action of colluding with the ruling party and returning to manual transmission has completely compromised the elections. Results were intercepted and changed between PUs and Wards collation centres, between Wards collation centres and Local Government collation centres, and between Local Government collation centres and State collation centres.
“To save our democracy, the election results must not be accepted by Nigerians and by all friends of Nigeria. We are, therefore, calling for the immediate suspension of the announcement of result and its collation. New election should be conducted as soon as possible.”
Adding momentum to the pressure, vice presidential candidates of PDP and LP, Ifeanyi Okowa and Datti Ahmed, yesterday, alleged that by insisting on the collation of results manually, Yakubu is playing to a predetermined script.
At a joint press conference in Abuja, both candidates warned that the actions of INEC could undermine justice and peace. They, however, vowed not to call on Nigerians to take to violence.
In a text read by Okowa and later adopted by Datti, the candidates said: “We wish to state for the record that last weekend’s election was a sham. It was neither free nor fair. What played out on Monday at the National Collation Centre exposes INEC chairman of playing to a predetermined script. Our position remains that the election and transmission of the results must be in tandem with the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines.”
Also, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has called on INEC to suspend the ongoing collation of presidential election results, saying the process is unconstitutional. The opposition parties said the collation of results should be halted in view of the compromise of the process and violation of the provision of the Electoral Act.
CUPP spokesperson, Ikenga Ugochinyere, in a statement, alleged that the results being collated is not transmitted directly from polling units but cooked by some rouge governors.
Ugochinyere, who is PDP Ideato House of Representatives member-elect, warned that collation should be stopped to prevent invitation to anarchy and burning down of the country.
Ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu, acknowledges supporters in Abuja on March 1, 2023 during celebrations at his campaign headquarters.(Photo by Kola SULAIMON / AFP)
But the APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) has called on Atiku and Obi to emulate former President Jonathan, accept defeat and congratulate Tinubu on his victory at the poll.
APC PCC special adviser, media, public affairs and strategic communications, Dele Alake, said it behooves the duo to emulate former President Goodluck Jonathan by conceding defeat. The call was made to address calls for INEC to cancel the election.
The Council justified the call, arguing that the poll had already been won by Tinubu, based on the results declared at the collation centres in the 36 states of the country.
He noted: “In 2015, President Jonathan did not wait for INEC to finish collation before he called President Muhammadu Buhari and congratulated him in the true spirit of democracy and sportsmanship.
“We urge Atiku and Obi to follow the same path of honour, instead of attempting to heat the polity via reckless statements by their surrogates. Let Atiku and Obi call Tinubu now.”
The PCC called on Nigerians and APC supporters to be peaceful, exercise more patience and not be provoked by the antics of the opposition parties.
Calling on INEC to speed up announcement of the result to quickly defuse the current atmosphere of anxiety in the country, the council faulted LP and PDP for calling on INEC chairman to resign his appointment.
It noted: “We are very well aware of the plan of PDP and their LP collaborators to heighten tension in the country and create general state of fear through their sponsored television and radio surrogates who continue to push false narratives about the general conduct of the election.
“We are also aware of the coordinated assault aimed at discrediting the whole electoral process and the integrity of INEC by their so-called paid and partisan agents, who wear the toga of election observers.
“We consider former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s failed attempt to scuttle the process through his unsolicited advice to President Buhari to cancel the election as part of the grand orchestration of many evil plots to truncate democracy in Nigeria.
“As you are well aware, the election was replete with drama. We saw the APC presidential candidate, party chairman and PCC director-general, losing their home states to LP. Our DG also lost his bid to the Senate. With all these hills and valleys and dramas that characterised the election, how can anyone claim the election was rigged or not transparent.”
To forestall any eventuality, Tinubu yesterday instituted a legal action to restrain PDP and LP from stopping the collation and announcement of the results of the presidential election.
According to court documents, the case, filed on Tuesday before the Federal High Court in Kano and marked FHC/KN/CS/43/2023, the Action Alliance and INEC were joined as defendants and the Vice Presidential candidate of the party, Kashim Shettima, was mentioned among the plaintiff.
The plaintiffs in the originating summons asked for a declaration that INEC chairman “is duty bound to continue to receive election results from the State Collation Officers of the 36 states of the federation and the FCT for the purpose of collating the result of the presidential election as collated and announced by the States Collation Officers in their respective states and the FCT for the purpose of declaring the winner and accordingly make a return of the candidate so declared in fulfillment of the provisions of section 134 (1) &(2) of the 1999 Constitution.”
The plaintiffs in a motion on notice filed alongside the originating summons, asked the court to make the order restraining the defendants from stopping the collation and announcement of the results because “damages will not adequately compensate for the injury that may be occasioned on the Plaintiffs if the Defendants stops the collation of the result.”
The suit was supported by an affidavit deposed to by Abdullahi Abbas, the APC chairman in Kano. The counsel for the plaintiffs, Sunusi Musa (SAN), moved the ex-parte motion attached to the summons.
The Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, Yakubu Mahmood, addresses the media during the presentation of final results of Nigeriaís 2023 General and Presidential election at the International Conference Centre (ICC), the venue of National Collation Centrein Abuja on February 27, 2023, two days after Nigeria’s presidential and general election. (Photo by KOLA SULAIMON / AFP)
In response to the calls for Yakubu to resign as chairman of INEC, the Commission has described it as misplaced and unfounded. INEC specifically said an allegation by spokesperson of the PDP PCC, Dino Melaye, that Yakubu allocated scores to parties was unfounded and irresponsible.
Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, in a statement, said contrary to the insinuation by both parties, results emanating from the states point to a free, fair and credible process.
Oyekanmi advised aggrieved parties that instead of making unfounded allegations, they should approach the court to seek redress if dissatisfied.
He said: “There are laid down procedures for aggrieved parties or candidates to follow when they are dissatisfied about the outcome of an election. Such procedures do not include calling on the INEC chairman to resign or for the election to be cancelled.
“To be sure, aggrieved parties are free to approach the courts to ventilate their concerns and wait for the matter to be resolved. Making inciting comments capable of causing violence or unrest is unacceptable.
“The general election processes are in their final stages of completion. It is only fair for aggrieved parties to allow the conclusion of the process and approach the courts with their evidences to pursue their cases.”
Meanwhile, the moment many Nigerians dread is now here, which is that the election may face a constitutional crisis, heightening tension and speculations.
With most of the results announced, it is looking likely that Tinubu will end up with the highest number of valid votes, after also getting at least 25 per cent votes in at least 24 states. But the 1999 Constitution says 24 states and the FCT, which has led to different interpretations.
The results from FCT announced by INEC showed that Tinubu had just 19.8 per cent and Atiku had 16.1 per cent, compared to Obi, who picked up 61 per cent.
In 1979, Shehu Shagari faced a similar scenario when he scored 25 per cent in 12 of the 19 states of the country at the time. With the 1979 Constitution requiring him to score at least 25 per cent in two-thirds of the states, a crisis ensured over what should be considered as two-thirds of 19 states: 12 or 13?
The Supreme Court concluded that it would be ‘12 two-thirds’ — meaning 25 per cent in 12 states and 25 per cent of two-thirds of a 13th state, a requirement Shagari met.
A senior lawyer, Olisa Agbakoba, said that provision was a tricky one. “I am a little worried. I reviewed Section 134 carefully, specifically, subsections 134 (1) (b) and (2) (b), and wondered if ‘two-thirds of all the states in the federation and the FCT’ means either of the following:
“(a) that a presidential candidate must score not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the states, which means 24 states, the 24 States will include FCT as a ‘state’, or (b) that a presidential candidate must score not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the states, which means 24 states and in addition to meeting the one-quarter requirement in 24 states, a candidate must also win one-quarter of the votes cast in the FCT.”
For Barrister Madueke Okafor, he states that the Constitution stipulates 25 per cent of the votes in two third of the states of the federation and FCT.
“And is conjunctive, meaning an additional requirement to the requirement before ‘and.’ It is not correct that the Constitution recognises Abuja as a state. The Constitution, in fact, listed the states of the federation and Abuja is not there. Further, Abuja does not have any characteristics of a state as it has Minister instead of governor.”
But another senior lawyer, Femi Falana, said: “It is not a requirement that you must win FCT. Today, the courts have ruled that pursuant to Section 299 of the Constitution, that the FCT should be treated as a state. That is the law.
Also, a professor of law, Itse Sagay (SAN), has said a presidential candidate does not necessarily need to secure 25 per cent of the votes in the FCT to be declared the winner.
He said so long as the candidate meets the threshold of 25 per cent in 25 states, he can be declared the winner even if Abuja is not inclusive.
According to him, Abuja can be considered a state in the circumstances, dismissing the controversy as needless.
“The constitutional provision does not mean that a candidate that does not score 25 per cent in Abuja cannot be declared the winner. As long as you score in one-quarter of the votes in at least 25 states, and for these purposes, FCT is treated as a state, you can be declared a winner,” he said.
THE controversy over the electronic transmission of results yesterday led to a rowdy session at plenary in the Senate.
The Senator, representing Kwara Central, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, citing Orders 41 and 51, presented a motion on the need to call for calm and appeal to political parties, stakeholders and Nigerians to abide by the rule of law on the election process in the just concluded election.
He was supported by other APC senators, who stated that it was very expedient and instructive for the highest legislative body to be involved to bring calm to the raging storm among political parties.
Oloriegbe, however, urged all political actors, leaders and every Nigerian to remain calm and allow collation and announcement of the elections to proceed based on provisions of the Electoral Act.
In his submission, Sani Musa, said, “it is very clear that accreditation and verification are to be done by BVAS. We are not voting electronically for that real-time transmission to happen. Transmission can only happen after it has been published on BVAS. So it is not real-time. We are not a court to interpret, but INEC has a responsibility to stick to guidelines.”
Opeyemi Bamidele asked INEC to do the right thing based on the Electoral Act. He said Nigerians should be patient for INEC to complete the process, while also calling on the judiciary to do the right thing.
He noted that the judiciary should not allow itself to be dragged into interfering with the elections without passing through the proper process.
However, Senator Betty Apiafi said it was wrong to bring up the issues at such critical time, adding that it wasn’t in their place to state what the guidelines of INEC should be.
While the ruling party senators wanted the motion and the prayers to be heard, the opposition senators disagreed with the motion.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has called on INEC to ensure that the will of the people as expressed through the ballots during the election is not subverted. In the same vein, the body has urged political parties, candidates and their supporters to desist from any action that could create needless tensions or stoke any form of violence that could push the country to a precipice.
[FILES] Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) President, Archbishop Daniel Okoh
President of CAN, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, who made the call in a statement in Abuja, appealed to all presidential candidates to abide by the spirit and letter of the Peace Accord they signed before the elections.
Okoh enjoined all political actors, elder statesmen, eminent personalities as well as religious and traditional leaders to make proactive interventions to calm any tensions and nip signs of violence in the bud.
The CAN President regretted that despite the many assurances given by INEC about its level of preparedness for the polls, it was observed in many quarters that last Saturday’s elections fell below the reasonable expectations of the people.
He observed that late arrival of election materials in parts of the country, malfunction of BVAS machines, failure of the planned electronic transmission of results to the IReV portal amid other structural challenges in the electoral process have not only cast a shadow of doubt on INEC’s sincerity to deliver a transparent and fair general election, but also threaten the credibility of the entire process.
Okoh stated that it is important that explanation be given to Nigerians as to why the preventable lapses were not addressed in a timely manner.
Also, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has said that at this time, when the nation is standing on the edge of a dangerous precipice owing to the flaws in the conduct of the elections, INEC must live above board to avoid plunging the nation into an avoidable crisis.
According to CBCN, the conduct of the last Saturday’s elections was a far cry from the hitch-free exercise that was repeatedly promised by INEC as the human element is alleged to have compromised the gains that were expected from the innovations of the new Electoral Act.
In a statement, the CBCN President, Bishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, noted that there is palpable tension in the air and agitations not just by some political parties, but by cross-section of the population regarding the elections. He urged INEC to promptly take adequate steps to address the issues of concern to diffuse the tension and in the interest of the common good.
Ugorji, who appealed to Nigerians to remain calm, law-abiding, and fervent in prayers, also appealed to leaders of political parties to exercise restraint, while INEC is given time to prove that it is still worthy of the trust of Nigerians trust.
He said: “No matter how long it takes, INEC has to ensure that it does the right thing now to ensure that the sanctity of the collective will of the electorate is not violated to restore the confidence of the citizenry in our government and its institutions. As the saying goes, running is useless when one is on the wrong road.”
“We appeal to all Nigerians to remain calm, law-abiding, and fervent in prayers. In particular, we urge the leaders of political parties to exercise restraint, while we all give INEC the time to prove that it is still worthy of our trust. At this time, when the nation is standing at the edge of a dangerous precipice, INEC must live above board to avoid plunging the nation into an avoidable crisis,” he added.