Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election may have come and gone but the controversies trailing its conduct by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) appear to be far from over.
This comes as a senior member of INEC’s staff has told THE WHISTLER that the presidential poll was manipulated in favour of Bola Ahmed Tinubu — the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate.
The official who was deployed to one of the southwestern states during the election, claimed that the electoral process was manipulated and undermined by various forces in connivance with members of INEC.
In the wee hours of March 1, four days after the presidential election, INEC declared that Tinubu of the ruling APC polled 8,794,726 votes to emerge as president-elect ahead of his closest contenders, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who got 6,984,520, and Peter Obi of the Labour Party who secured 6,101,533 votes.
INEC declared the winner despite complaints of alleged discrepancies in collated figures and allegations that the electoral umpire failed to abide by its own regulation mandating electronic transmission of the results from polling units using the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine.
Known as the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV), the website which was designed to receive photographic images of election result sheets in real-time directly from polling units across the country was reported to have suffered system collapse that prevented the transmission.
But the commission’s senior official who spoke to THE WHISTLER on the condition of anonymity, said the claim that transmission of the results was prevented by server downtime was part of a game plan to manipulate the election.
“It was a very messy election. I am an INEC staff member but no! no!! no!!!
“They (INEC management) made an excuse that our server was hit by hackers 162 times but they are merely deceiving members of the public.
“Why are commercial banks’ servers not being attacked that way? Do banks suffer such attacks to the point that their customers are not able to carry out transactions? It (the election outcome) was scripted and orchestrated to turn out that way,” said the official.
According to him, governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) made a special arrangement to take care of INEC staff during the election even though the commission already paid allowances to staff deployed for elections.
“In fact, they (APC governors) were taking care of us and fed us twice daily during our stay for the presidential election.
“I heard they gave money to some INEC officials in Lagos. And they also gave election observers money, that’s what usually happens. Some APC-controlled states were also allowed to assist the commission with transportation of sensitive election materials on election day.”
The official recalled that, “INEC management had instructed state offices to not deploy election materials and personnel until they’re instructed to do so. That was why they delayed in some states. In strongholds of the APC, they quickly deployed personnel and materials to polling units and in strongholds of opponents, they delayed. In some places, they did not even deploy personnel to the field.
“For instance, in a whole local government where the Labour Party is popular, elections did not start until past 12 PM. Was our chairman not supposed to announce that there won’t be election in that case? In fact, I learnt that voting did not start until about 4:30 PM in some areas.
“All the things people are saying about the election being rigged in favour of the APC is true, there’s no gainsaying it. In fact, worse things that people aren’t aware of happened during the presidential election,” he said.
On Saturday, the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, at a meeting with resident electoral commissioners, appeared to admit that some officials of the electoral umpire were compromised to manipulate the polls.
He said while planning for the election was “painstakingly done,” issues of “logistics, election technology, behaviour of some election personnel at different levels, attitude of some party agents and supporters” affected the outcome negatively.
Yakubu directed that “All staff found to be negligent, whether they are regular or ad hoc officials, including Collation and Returning Officers, must not be involved” in the forthcoming governorship and state assembly elections to avoid a repeat while promising to that proven infractions against political candidates would be addressed.
Meanwhile, the INEC source told THE WHISTLER
that some of the challenges recorded during presidential election also arose from poorly trained ad-hoc staff and intimidation of voters and personnel of the commission.
“A video had gone viral where a lawmaker was going round Lagos and opening ballot boxes to see if the electorate were voting the APC. Where he saw that APC got more votes, he left it but in places where other parties dominated, he tore the ballot papers. I can get the video and send it to you.
“The international observers did not lie in their submissions that the election was flawed. They had even noted before the election that there would be problems because a lot of the ad-hoc staff used were either not properly trained or not trained at all and this was because INEC did “fire brigade” training before the election.
“In fact, some people were recruited on the day of the election at the polling unit. All they asked them was if they could operate a phone before engaging them to handle the BVAS machine. I even saw where a minor held the BVAS machine.
“If I was prepared for INEC to sack me, I would have granted an interview to pressmen exposing some of these infractions. If I decide to expose what happened in my PU alone, the INEC chairman would order my sacking. I will become a hero but INEC will sack me because I will indict a lot of persons and that would also lead to their sacking from the commission.
“If I decide to speak out, even the head of the ICT department will go, they will call for his head because he too was compromised.”
Many Nigerians believe that Mr Peter Obi, the candidate of an unpopular political party, was cheated through ballot rigging in the election. The former Anambra State Governor enjoyed the support of young people who constitute over 60% the country’s total population of eligible voters.
He defeated the declared winner, Bola Tinubu, a two-time former Lagos State Governor and acclaimed ‘godfather’ of Lagos politics, in the latter’s stronghold but failed to pull sufficient votes to be declared winner according to INEC figures.
However, the INEC source claimed that Obi could have won the election if he wasn’t rigged through the collusion of some INEC officials and the ruling party.
“Obi really tried and even the spread that people are talking about, Tinubu did not get it. From what I saw, Obi is the only candidate that got the spread. He (Obi) really worked hard and people really wanted him and you can see that the Labour Party has won a lot of House of Reps seats and the Senate.
“And let me tell you, the Labour Party is likely get Lagos in this governorship election (and) at least three other states. See, you people underestimated the Labour Party. I recall people said they cannot even get one million votes in the presidential election but how many million votes did they get?”
He added, “I don’t know if those (LP and PDP) going to court can succeed but they can get a lot of evidence of election fraud to show to the court. All they (the aggrieved candidates) need to do is to ask people who have evidence of malpractices in any form from the polling units to come forward with them and give them a token in return. This way they will get all the evidence they need.”…..CONTINUE READING