Step aside within 14 days: CNPP, CSOs tell INEC chair, Yakubu

Conference Of Nigeria Political Parties, CNPP and civil society organisations, CSOs, under the aegis of Coalition Of National Civil Society Organisations, CNCSOs, have demanded that the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu resign from office.

CNPP and the CSOs issued a 14-day ultimatum to Prof. Yakubu to step aside or they would galvanised all democratic and legal means to force him to do so.

In a statement by on Monday by CNPP Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu and the National Secretary of the Coalition, Alhaji Ali Abacha, they explained that the INEC Chairman, who failed to deploy the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, it procured “despite billions of naira wasted on the 2023 general elections is not worthy of remaining in office and must not be allowed to continue to waste the nation’s resources in conduct of future elections.”

According to the statement in Abuja, the CNPP and the CSOs said that they were equally disturbed that “INEC under Prof. Yakubu has equally constituted itself into an obstruction to justice in the electioneering process in Nigeria by becoming a partisan umpire and opposing petitioners who are in the various tribunals to seek justice after being allegedly rigged out in the elections.”

They also accused the INEC Chairman of inflating about N105.25 billion spent on acquiring BVAS machines for the 2023 polls, saying that “despite having been severally accused of manipulating the February 25 presidential election results, counsel to INEC, Yakubu, recently aligned with the position of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the February 25 presidential election to object to the presentation of subpoenaed witnesses who were INEC ad-hoc staff during the 2023 presidential election in the petition filed by Atiku Abubakar and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

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“We recall that at the resumption of proceedings on Atiku’s petition last Thursday in Abuja, one of the witnesses, Egwuma Friday from Kubwa area of Abuja entered the witness box and prayed the court to admit his witness statement, but all respondents in the petition, including INEC, raised objections to stop the witness from testifying.

“This is the same INEC that has been accused of manipulating election results by deliberately refusing to transmit polling units results as promised real-time.

“From mere allegations, a staff of INEC, Abedemi Joseph on Friday told the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, that they were instructed by the commission under Prof. Yakubu, their employer, not to give copies of election results to political party agents who declined to sign the results.

“It’s now becoming more obvious that, until INEC Chairman exited from the commission, rebuilding confidence in the electoral body will be impossible due to the now battered image of the commission in the eyes of the electorates.

“More so, INEC under Prof. Yakubu took four years to mislead Nigerians by creating false impression that uploading of the election results to the BVAS real-time was the only way to go for the country’s electoral system.

“Contrary to expectations, INEC made it impossible for electoral officers to upload the results of the presidential election real-time from the polling units, which may have created room for the upload of manipulated election results.

“We note that the former Minister of Transportation and chieftain of the APC, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, had revealed that a member of the camp of the presidential candidate of his party, now President Bola Tinubu, nominated the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Yakubu, for his reappointment for a second term.

“In the words of Amaechi, ‘There are those of us who opposed the reappointment of Mahmood. The person who nominated him is a member of Tinubu’s camp. So what are you expecting?’

“So, how can anyone convince Nigerians that such a character remain in office as INEC Chairman for a single day, not to even think of allowing him to conduct another election in the country?

“We equally call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, other anti-graft agencies, as well as the Department of State Services, DSS, to immediately commence investigation of INEC’s N105.25 billion budgetted for acquiring 200,000 units of the BVAS as the budget has been found to have surpassed the estimated market cost by a whopping 30.4 percent, yet Nigeria lost the anticipated benefits, and for constituting himself into a national security risk as his continued stay in office could trigger violence in the country.

“According our findings as corroborated by the media, the BVAS machines, which were deploy during the now controversial 2023 general elections, EMP2920 Biometric tablets, were manufactured and supplied by Shenzhen Emperor Technology at an inflated unit cost of $795 (N366,089.55 at the rate of N460.47/$) as against the Amazon price, where the device sells under a different name SecuMind Tablet Biometric CX2920.

“Why should the INEC Chairman remain in office after wasting 34.51 percent of the total sum of N355 billion budgeted for the 2023 polls on the procurement of biometric devices that never worked?

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“In a sane clime, such an official who failed woefully to conduct an acceptable general elections after receiving all he asked for should have long resigned.

“We, therefore, demand the immediate resignation of the INEC Chairman within 14 days.

“At the expiration of the ultimatum, all democratic and legal means possible would be deployed to force him to quit the office.

“All the CNPP organs at the state level and the civil society groups under the CNCSOs across the country are being mobilised for appropriate action in event that Prof. Yakubu remains in office after two weeks from today.

“It is on record that the CNPP and the CSOs fully backed INEC in the build up to the 2023 general elections and insisted that all that the commission required should be made available to it since INEC Chairman had assured of conducting a free, fair and credible elections.

“The same promise to do what is right was made by the INEC Chairman at the CHATHAM House before the elections and today, the world is seeing Nigeria as a mockery among the comity of nations, especially with the testimonies emanating from the election petition courts where INEC staff are indicting the commission under Prof. Yakubu.

“Therefore, if the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, who followed the instructions of former President Muhammadu Buhari to redesign the naira to ensure that illicit funds were not deployed for 2023 elections, could be ordered to step aside from office, why should Prof. Yakubu, who has done more harm to the psyche of Nigerian electorates than any past Chairman of the commission in Nigeria’s history, remain in office?

“Prof. Yakubu dashed the hopes Nigerians in a credible 2023 electoral system, raising voter apathy to the highest level in the country, and for us, it’s time up for Prof. Yakubu to quit the stage as INEC Chairman. Enough is enough,” the statement added.

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