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Published On: Thu, Jan 15th, 2015

Buhari: INEC robbed me of 40 percent votes in 2011

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BuhariBy Umar Muhammad Puma & Lawrence Olaoye.

Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC), deliberately programmed its computers in 2011 so that he could lose 40 percent of his votes.

Buhari also signed a pact with President Goodluck Jonathan and presidential candidates of other political parties against electoral violence before, during and after the February general elections.

Speaking at the signing of Abuja accord by the presidential candidates on non-violence 2015 elections yesterday, Buhari cited two states in the northern part of the country, where he said his party was lucky to have competent agents who had followed the results that were announced and personally brought them to INEC office after going through the collation centres.

“They compared the results against the INEC register for those states and entered them into the computer and the popular adage that garbage in garbage out manifested itself. What came out was that the Presidential candidate of our party was programmed to lose 40 percent of his votes and in the other states, it was 26 percent. They showed it to INEC who asked our party to officially write a complaint and we wrote. We were given the assurance by INEC that they will look into our complaint, but the next thing we saw was results being announced that we have lost the election.

“Some of you know by name the retired Justice Salami who was heading the Presidential election panel. We made a presentation that in a number of states, the election was not conducted in accordance with the Electoral Act and the states were mentioned. We demanded that the register be brought to prove our case and the panel said there was nothing wrong with that and INEC were asked to comply.

Justice Salami was redeployed and another Judge was brought who reversed that decision. That has become history.

“The INEC act requires that they register political association into political parties and to make sure that every person from the councilor to the President comes through a political party. It was decided that before every election, there must be an Electoral Act. There was one in 2002 for the 2003 election, there was one in 2006 for the 2007 election, and there was one in 2010 for the 2011 election. Up to December 31, 2014, I was waiting for the amended Electoral Act for this year’s election and I am yet to see one.

“I am very impressed about the contributions made so far and the fact that we have all seen how Nigeria is so competent on paper and I hope that the elites will help us to make 2015 elections credible”, he said.

The pact signing is coming as the President advocated that the opposition party with impressive performance at the polls should be accommodated by the ruling party so as to douse the tension associated with the practice of ‘winner takes all’ system in the nation’s Presidential system of government.

But Buhari, in his contribution, decried the delay associated with the delivery of justice in electoral litigations in the country, citing his experience in the past.

At the ‘Abuja Declaration Accord’ where the 14 Presidential aspirants in the country made formal commitment to a violence-free polls, Jonathan also charged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that all registered Nigerians get their permanent voters’ card so as not to be accused of deliberately working to rig the elections and give room for electoral violence.

The President also argued that contrary to widespread belief, electoral violence is not necessarily caused by rigging but by unguarded utterances form some politicians.

Jonathan asserted that while the courts can fix electoral malpractices, electoral violence cannot be handled judicially. He said, “If a property is burnt, it is burnt. If you identify the person, yes, he can go in for arson charges. It is often difficult convicting people.

“Of course I was not surprised that second republic did not last. Once the politicians start abusing themselves, insulting every institution, it is just like what the late Tai Solarin referred to as ‘the beginning of the end’.

While agreeing with Buhari that the 2007 elections was flawed, the President said he has demonstrated with the 2011 elections and the ones after it conducted in Anambra, Edo, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti, that free, fair and credible elections is possible, calling on the opposition to commend him for it.

Listing factors fueling election violence, he recalled that the 2011 election violence erupted when results were still being announced. “As we were approaching the end, it was clear that a particular candidate was likely to win and violence erupted in Kano and Bauchi.

“The only thing one can deduce, because we cannot say there were malpractices to favour the candidate that won because in Kano, I only got 16 per cent and in Bauchi 15 per cent of the total votes cast. Even in states where we got more than 50 percent, there were no violence. So, violence are not necessarily caused by electoral malpractices”.

Jonathan listed factors causing election violence to include, provocative statements made by politicians. “When we are making these statements the younger ones are listening. Your followers who call themselves your fans are listening to you. Threatening our opponents too. If you threaten somebody that he will go to jail if you take over government, that person will fight to defend himself from going to jail. My conviction is that we must avoid provocative statements and threatening ourselves”.

The President said, “One thing that we need to rethink is the issue of clearing candidates by intelligence agencies. When we came on board in 1999, candidates were cleared by the SSS and if you are linked to any kind of violent behavior, or cultism you cannot be cleared. But later, the National Assembly changed this saying that it is the parties that will screen and clear candidates.

“Also, we have the factors of the religious leaders. They preach hate to instigate their followers to be confrontational and sometimes label some people or candidates as the enemies of their faith, either Islam or other religions. We always tend to follow what they say, so their enemies must be fought.

“The other factor is the pronouncement of ethnic or tribal leaders. Some of them make provocative statements that are very inflammatory as if they want to divide the country”.

On the way forward, President Jonathan said “We must stop these hate preaching, instigating crises, threatening others, provocative and inflammatory statements by people whether they are traditional or religious leaders, ethnic or nationalities leaders. We must stop this. We can practice politics without bitterness.

“We must accept that the struggle to rule is not struggle to conquer. Whenever you win election, you will rule the whole country and not only your political party members so that at the end of the election, everybody must be your friend and followers.

“We must stop the hate issues then of course these violence will begin to reduce. We must also strengthen the security”.

“At the executive level, we should come up with a system that will ensure that when a party wins the Governorship or the President at the national level, in forming cabinet, the parties that did very well will also by right, by law and not by privilege or discretion of Mr Governor or Mr. President, be meant to have a share of appointments in that government.

But, Buhari, the APC Presidential candidate, in his remarks emphasized the importance of the judiciary in the curtailment of post election violence.

 

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