My confidence in INEC gone, hope now on judiciary, says Obi

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• NNPP: We‘re studying reports, will go to court soon
• Atiku denies withdrawing petition, slams APC for endorsement shopping
• 2023 polls: International Alert launches national dialogue to curtail violence

Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, has described the last round of general elections as an exhibition of motion without movement in the nation’s political trajectory, being the worst in its history.

He, however, expressed utmost confidence in Nigeria’s judiciary despite many controversial rulings on some matters. Obi, speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise programme yesterday, said his confidence is drawn from the fact that the Justices are Nigerians and are aware of how bad the situation has been in the country.

“They, the Justices, desire a better Nigeria for themselves and their children and that can only come through doing the right thing and telling the people the truth on any situation.

“For me, I have no cause to doubt the courts. It’s we the politicians that are bent on corrupting every aspect of our national life.” Obi, however, berated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over its failure to transmit results of the presidential election in real-time via its portal, saying the conduct of the exercise has downgraded the country.

“We have seen probably what I consider the worst election in our recent history because of the Electoral Law of 2022, which gave so much hope and the huge expenditure we put into technology,” the former Anambra State governor said.

“All these happened despite the humungous amount budgeted for the election. Do you know what it means to spend over $1 billion? So, there was so much that was promised and then we went back to what it used to be. For me, that is very devastating.” Obi reiterated his earlier position that what INEC declared is false, pointing out that he’s challenging the process and the declaration.

“My trust in INEC has evaporated with what they did on February 25, setting out a rule for the election and abandoning it in the middle of the game.”
The LP candidate, who has challenged the declaration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the exercise, is, however, optimistic about getting justice.

ANOTHER opposition party, the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), has reiterated its rejection of the results released by INEC that declared Tinubu as winner of the February 25 presidential election.

According to the party, it was brainstorming with its legal team gathering the necessary information and evidences with a view to coming up with the next line of action, just as it stressed that it would meet up with the stipulated time to file against the declared results in line with the 2022 Electoral Act as amended. He said the party would meet up with the seven days left for all parties to file their cases.

Addressing newsmen yesterday in Abuja, NNPP National Chairman, Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali, said: “We are still talking to our lawyers and they will advise us on the way forward. We are gathering details of the results from polling units to polling units. Our lawyers should know what we need to do. We don’t do grandstanding,” he said.

MEANWHILE, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has denied reports that its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has withdrawn his petition against the February 25 election.  

In a statement by its national publicity secretary, Debo Ologunagba, PDP said it was shocked by “mischievous report claiming that PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku, have withdrawn the petition filed against INEC, APC and Tinubu at the Presidential Election Tribunal.”

PDP clarified that: “On Monday, March 13, the legal team of Atiku, led by J.K Gadzama (SAN) was in court to move a Motion Exparte, seeking orders directing INEC to allow us observe/participate in the process of sorting out the ballot papers used for the presidential, Senatorial and House of Representatives elections conducted on February 25, across the country. 

“On Tuesday, March 14, our legal team had a conference meeting with the legal team of INEC, and the Commission gave its assurance to cooperate with our team during the inspection and sorting of ballot papers, and to provide election materials needed to file our petition.

“On Wednesday, March 15, our legal team returned to court to inform the court of the resolution reached with INEC and formally discontinued the Motion on Notice.”

Atiku has further lambasted the presidential campaign organisation of the ruling APC for shopping for endorsements and begging United States President, Joe Biden, to call to congratulate Tinubu.

APC PCC Director of New Media, Femi Fani-Kayode, had taken to Twitter to say that although the U.S. State Department had congratulated Tinubu, there was a need for Biden to add his voice as both the U.S. and Nigeria shared a historic relationship.

“Yes, the American State Department and the American Ambassador to Nigeria both congratulated Asiwaju. For this, we are eternally grateful, and it reflects a measure of respect. However, it’s time for Joe (Biden) to pick up the phone and add his voice. We are a big nation: we deserve no less,” Fani-Kayode tweeted.

Responding in a statement, however, Atiku’s Special Assistant on Public Communication, Mr. Phrank Shaibu, said Fani-Kayode’s remarks were evidence of desperation.

Shaibu described Fani-Kayode’s action as appalling, even as he called on Tinubu and his team to stop forcing foreign countries to recognise the “sham election conducted by INEC.”

He added: “After being the beneficiary of the worst and most fraudulent election in the history of Nigeria, Tinubu and his ilk are now running from pillar to post, begging Western powers to recognise Tinubu. This is the height of desperation.”

Atiku’s aide advised Tinubu’s campaign team to save their strength for the legal challenge in the coming weeks rather than beg the US President to recognise his tainted mandate.

FOLLOWING discordant tunes trailing the outcome of the presidential election, a peace-building organisation, International Alert, has launched a new initiative to promote national stability, dialogue and reduce violence around the elections.

The Country Director of International Alert, Paul Nyulaku, while speaking at the project launch yesterday in Abuja, noted that the 2023 election held amid intense rivalry and tension between the three major parties, adding that the religious and cultural background of the candidates have divided the electorate.

He said though the direct post-election violence has not reached the levels seen in previous elections, with the results being contested, experts fear that a trigger event could lead to more violence.

He pointed out that International Alert in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and National Early Warning Center of the Office for Strategic Preparedness and Resilience (OSPRE) is launching an initiative to promote national stability, dialogue and reduce violence around the 2023 elections in Nigeria.

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