Amid unconfirmed reports of the ill-conceived plans to rig the forthcoming Kogi and Bayelsa polls, President Muhammadu Buhari has told the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure a free and fair gubernatorial elections in the states.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Mallam Garba Shehu described as 'mischievous' for the Peoples' Democratic Party to get this well-intentioned meeting twisted.
Speaking further Mallam Garba pointed out that: “The President called the meeting cited by the PDP to warn, in particular, the INEC and the police to do prepare and give the nation a credible election. He said he expected nothing short of a free, fair and credible election.
“He said he had suffered election manipulation in 2003,2007 and 2011 and would not like to have any Nigerian to go through that again.
“He warned against the intimidation of voters in any way and vowed that he was prepared to move with all the forces available to him against anyone who undermines the rights of any citizen.
“The meeting was short and straight to the point. It ended after five minutes. He asked Vice President Yemi Osinbajo if he had anything to say and he added nothing.”
He lashed out at what he called 'PDP's fruitless attempts to destroy national institutions and remarked that President Buhari is doing everything possible to rebuild the country.
The PDP, he said, 'started with the courts, the EFCC, then the police and now they are on the one-week-old INEC. When will PDP allow our national institutions to do their job?”
In spite of this, the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples' Democratic Party, Chief Olisa Metuh, in a statement made available to our reporter that the plot in question is to ensure APC victory at the polls.
“We have incontrovertible records of separate meetings, late last week between the Presidency and the new INEC leadership as well as with some top security officers, which were coordinated by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, who boasted that he has President Muhammadu Buhari’s orders to ensure that Kogi State is wrestled from the PDP by all means.
“We alert all to be aware of this planned ‘coup’ against democracy again, by the now ‘new sherrif’, who though, being the biggest beneficiary of free and fair election in the history of Nigeria, is now out to corrupt the electoral system and destroy our democracy, all in the obsession to foist a one-party state in the country.
“Intelligence information available to us shows that at the meeting with the new INEC leadership under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the commission was given orders regarding the posting of compromised personnel to strategic areas in the state to manipulate the card readers as well as the actual voting process in favour of the APC, with assurance of adequate protection by government security agencies, particularly the Directorate of State Services (DSS).
“We are aware that in another meeting also held in Abuja, the Presidency directed summoned security officials to ensure that the forces are maximally used to intimidate the people with a view to pave way for compromised INEC officials to manipulate the process, alter ballot figures and announce doctored results.
“To kick off the rigging process and underscore the desperation to take over Kogi State, the President himself is billed to be in the state on Wednesday to endorse the APC candidate, Alhaji Audu Abubakar, a man facing charges of corruption.
“It is, to say the least, an embarrassing miscarriage of justice that the same President who rode to power on much publicized anti-corruption credentials, would not only superintend over plots to corrupt the electoral process, but also endorse a man facing corruption charges as his governorship candidate.
“Whereas majority of Nigerians have seen through the cosmetic anti-corruption stance of the President Buhari-led APC government, the PDP wishes to state in the strongest possible terms that the people of Kogi State love their Governor and are fully in support of his re-election bid.
“We therefore caution the President and the APC to watch their steps as their plots have not only been exposed, but will also be stiffly resisted by the people.
“In this regard, the new INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, must note that his legacy is at stake and that the Kogi election is for him an iron test. Prof. Yakubu must immediately distance himself and the commission from this planned ‘coup’ against democracy or be ready to hold himself responsible should there be any breakdown of law and order in the state during and after the elections.
Chief Olisa Metuh warned ''that no amount of force, intimidation, and manipulation can bend the will of the people of Kogi State in their preference for the PDP and Governor Idris Wada, and that they will not accept any results that do not reflect their wishes and aspirations at the poll.
PDP he reassured will emerge victorious if the election is conducted free and fair in these two states.