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Presidential Election: Labour Party Calls For Immediate Dismissal, Prosecution of INEC Chairman, Mahmoud

PoliticsPresidential Election: Labour Party Calls For Immediate Dismissal, Prosecution of INEC Chairman, Mahmoud

Asks international community to take punitive actions against Mahmoud, Okoye, Others

Demands forensic financial investigation into N300b received by Commission for this year’s elections

Emameh Gabriel in Abuja

The opposition Labour Party, has called for the immediate sack and prosecution of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, over what it described as betrayal of the People’s trust and an abysmal performance by the Commission during the 2023 general elections.

This was even as the party called on the international community take immediate and appropriate punitive action against Prof Mahmud Yakubu, Barrister Festus Okoye and other top administrative and field staff of INEC, directly complicit, in the desecration of these elections.

The party has also requested for the commencement of forensic financial investigation, into the expenditure of budgeted disbursements and donors’ funds received by INEC under Prof Mahmoud, amounting to N300 billion appropriated from the National purse, as well as other funds and materials, received from international donor agencies.

Speaking on the final Reports of the Election Observer Groups and other emerging political developments in Abuja yesterday, the Director General of the Labour Party and the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Organisation, Balogun Akin Osuntokun, said that the report of the various observer groups was a straight indictment on the Prof Yakubu Mahmood led INEC.

This is the first official position taken by the party after closing its case at the presidential election petition court. It is also the first official response of the party after the European Union Election Observer Mission (EU-EOM) released it final report on the 2023 General Elections.

Peter Obi of the Labour Party who came third with a total vote of 6,101,533 million, behind the former Lagos State governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is currently challenging the legitimacy of Tinubu’s victory at the tribunal.

Osuntokun who commended the International Community and Civil Society, for their continued support, in growing and consolidating of the nation’s democracy, said the Labour Party “demand unequivocally, the immediate dismissal from Office and prosecution of Prof Mahmud Yakubu, and the commencement of forensic financial investigation, into the expenditure of budgeted disbursements and Donors’ funds received by INEC”, estimated to be no less that “N300 billion appropriated from the National purse, as well as other funds and materials, received from International Donor Agencies.

He said it was “now only logical, bolstered by the final Observer Group reports, that the International Community take immediate and appropriate punitive action against Prof Mahmud Yakubu, Barrister Festus Okoye and other top administrative and field staff of INEC, directly complicit, in the desecration of these elections.”

Speaking further, the DG explained that: “Having concluded the hearing stage, at the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja, the attention of the people and the international community remains transfixed on the judiciary, and with it, the expectation that the glaring wrongs, as documented by all Observer groups, local and international, will be corrected, for the good of the nation.

“We commend, in particular, without equivocation, the courage, sense of focus and clarity of thought, expressed by various Election Observer groups, local and international, that were duly accredited to monitor the elections”, he said.

The party commended the courage of The Nigerian Civil Society Situation, for what it called a comprehensive report which is a true reflection of what transpired during the election.

He said: “The Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room, the umbrella group for the majority of national NGOs involved in monitoring the elections, described the elections, in its comprehensive report, and I quote, as ‘a missed opportunity in Nigeria’s democratic development’.. They further reported, that ‘credibility of the 2023 election was greatly tarnished by numerous pitfalls.

“The election suffered several lingering deficiencies in election administration, including inefficient management of permanent voters cards (PVCs) distribution, failure of operational and logistical arrangements, malfunctioning of election technology, inefficient handling of results management procedures, lack of transparent results collation and declaration process, and poor crisis communication.

“The EU Election Observation Mission, as well as the Civil Society Situation Room, NDI -IRI, YIAGA etc are all INEC accredited observer groups, as well as very credible and long standing international and local stakeholders, in the Nigeria democratic process, whose reports are an essential contribution towards strengthening Nigeria’s democracy.

“We would like to point Nigerians, to the fact, that the EU Observer group report, is in tandem with the reports of other international and domestic observers, duly accredited by INEC, and also in tandem, with public opinion and the experience of the majority of Nigerian citizens, who participated in, or observed the 2023 general elections.

“It further underlined that ‘public confidence in the credibility of the electoral process and the capacity of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct elections is gravely shaken, and that extraordinary efforts will be required to re-establish trust’.”

Oshuntoku highlighted the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI) to underscore the concern about the 2023 Elections, especially the February 25 presidential election.

“The NDI-IRI International Election Observer Mission, whose parent bodies had, prior to the elections, deployed resources in voter education and so many other areas, in aid of a credible outcome, in their own report, submitted, and I quote, “the 2023 elections in Nigeria fell short of citizens’ legitimate and reasonable expectations.

Significant logistical, technological, and communications failures by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), divisive rhetoric by political parties, political violence, regional disparities in electoral integrity, instances of vote manipulation, and marginalization of key populations, marred the electoral process and disenfranchised voters negatively impacting on key aspects of the election process”.

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