The allegation by the national chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had finished a rigging arrangement through manipulated card readers and special election result sheets doctored to favour the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has set both parties against each other’s throats.
Secondus made the allegation yesterday while hosting the election team of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) led by Mohammad Conteh at the party’s national campaign headquarters in Maitama, Abuja.
The ruling APC has, however, berated the PDP, accusing it of churning out fake news, misinformation and using hate speech as its focal campaign strategies for the 2019 elections.
The PDP boss had accused the electoral commission of conniving with the ruling APC to rig the election in 2019 and warned the INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, that he risked being on the wrong side of history if he fails to conduct free and fair elections in 2019.
He warned that manipulating the 2019 election would be a recipe for crisis in the country for which the INEC chairman would be held accountable.
According to a statement from the national chairman’s media office, signed by his media adviser, Ike Abonyi, Secondus alleged that the commission used the governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states as dress rehearsal for their rigging strategy in 2019.
“They have finished their rigging arrangements with preloaded cards and special election result sheets all doctored to favour the ruling APC.
“The INEC chairman has no strong will to follow our electoral laws and constitution as well as the laid down international standards in his processes towards 2019, and we want to let the world know this before it happens.
“They have finished plots to isolate the states of Kano, Benue, Rivers, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Imo, Kwara and Lagos for disruption during the general election so they can plan well to mobilise the rigging,” he said.
Secondus further alleged that the commission’s rigging agenda was being propelled by the security agencies, especially with the current Inspector General of Police (IGP) proving to be the most biased police boss in the country.
The PDP national chairman said that his party was using the INEC template they saw in Ekiiti and Osun states to reiterate its lack of confidence in the commission, as nothing has happened to show that it is going to do anything different from what it did in those two states.
Secondus advised INEC to learn from Ghana how to conduct free and fair election, even as he commended the judiciary for standing up for democracy, pointing out that without that arm of the government, the country would have been reduced to a banana republic.
But in its response, the APC chided the main opposition party for resorting to misinformation as a campaign tool.
The party also said fake news and other loathsome strategies must be checked, particularly as the country gears up for campaigns ahead of the 2019 elections.
APC national publicity secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, who made this comment, said it was due to false reports like this that the ruling party supported the ongoing global media attention and efforts to check the proliferation of fake news.
He said: “The consequences of fake news are often dire as it inflames perceived divisions in our communities, fuels hate speech, leads to violence and distorts democratic processes, among others.
“Disturbingly, the country’s main opposition – Peoples Democratic Party – and its discredited agents have continued to deploy the loathsome strategy of fake news, misinformation and distortion of facts as focal campaign strategies for the 2019 elections.”
Describing PDP as a prodigal party, the APC said it was not surprised at the opposition party’s typical theatrics in an attempt to evade scrutiny for its 16 years of misgovernance.
“It is instructive to the electorate that no lessons have been learnt by the prodigal party. It is indeed clear to the electorate that the PDP is not a party to either be trusted or taken seriously as it has missed out on the opportunity to apologise and show remorse for the cruelty it wrought on our country while in power. What we witness instead is its weekly disgraceful and embarrassing shadow chasing through fake news and spurious allegations.
“PDP cannot pull the wool over the eyes of the good people of this country. It can cry wolf for all it cares, Nigerians won’t be deceived. PDP remains a damaged product showing no regret for its retrogressive old practices which brought the country to its knees in terms of our infrastructure, economy, security, values and standing among nations of the world,” it said.
PDP’s Allegations Baseless – INEC
In its reaction, INEC has called on Nigerians to ignore PDP’s allegations to the effect that it had perfected plans to rig the 2019 general elections in favour of the ruling party.
INEC’s director of Information and Voter Education, Barr Oluwole Osaze Uzzi, told LEADERSHIP that the party might be lacking the knowledge of how the smart card readers works.
“We don’t like joining issues with political parties but their allegations are baseless and false,” Uzzi said referring to the PDP.
“Complaints about the smart card readers were not part of their petitions in the Osun and the Ekiti states’ gubernatorial elections,” Uzzi said, referring to PDP’s allegation that those elections were rigged through the use of the smart card readers.
“Did the PDP explain how possible it is to preload the card readers and how the election result sheets were doctored?” Uzzi asked, adding that such things are not possible.
Uzzi assured Nigerians that the 2019 general elections would be credible and that all political parties would have equal treatment in the election.