By Lateef Ibrahim
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said yesterday that it had lost confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for attempting to cover its complicity in the widespread impunity recorded in last Saturday’s Kano local council elections, particularly the documented massive underage voting that characterized the exercise.
The party said it was INEC that registered the minors as voters in the first place, and as such should not in any way attempt to exonerate itself of involvement in the electoral fraud, simply because it did not directly conduct the elections.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement in Abuja, said the press release by INEC, wherein it tried to exonerate itself from culpability in the participation of minors in Kano election, clearly shows that INEC, under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, is completely unreliable and cannot be trusted.
The PDP said: “We ask: Who is fooling who? Is it not INEC that registered the minors and issued them with Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVC) to participate in elections as clearly documented in the Kano council election?
“Can INEC truly acquit itself as the original culprit who set the stage for the eventual participation of the minors and overall rigging of the elections?
“By resorting to lame excuses and trying to exonerate itself at a time it should be taking decisive steps to protect the sanctity of its sensitive materials such as the PVC, this INEC has shown that it cannot be relied upon as a responsible and trustworthy electoral umpire.
“Indeed, if this INEC was serious about the sanctity of sensitive electoral materials, by now, it should have ordered the immediate review of its voter register in Kano and Katsina States, fishing out and prosecuting those who registered the minors and clean up the electoral system in the affected states.
“Viewed alongside series of numerous other irregularities being allowed by INEC to favor the ruling APC, including alleged conspiracy with APC-controlled security operatives to intimidate opposition members and manipulate elections as witnessed in the last Saturday’s Mashi/Dutsi Federal Constituency Supplementary election in Katsina State, any reasonable person will decode that INEC, as presently constituted, has serious questions to answer, especially as we approach the 2019 general elections.
“While we now hold the statement by INEC as part of our strong evidence of irregularities and violations in the elections, we charge the commission to redeem its name by immediately reviewing and sanitizing its voter registers in affected states, particularly, Kano and Katsina, as that it the only way it can demonstrate its dependability to Nigerians.
“Finally, we want INEC to note, and in very strong terms too, that Nigerians will not accept anything short of credible, free and fair general election.
“The commission should therefore ensure that it does not allow itself to be used by the APC against the will of the people, particularly in the 2019 elections, as such will be highly resisted”, the opposition party declared.