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Nigeria: Labour Party Frowns Over Conduct Of Polls

Nigeria: Labour Party Frowns Over Conduct Of Polls


Akanimo Sampson
Port Harcourt

THE leadership of the Labour Party in Nigeria, has frowned at the conduct of this year's elections in the country, saying at the inception of Maurice Iwu's regime at Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), many well-meaning Nigerians protested openly on the manner of Iwu's appointment, anchoring their principled reason on the fact that the National Council of State was bye-passed in that appointment contrary to the clear provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

According to the party, this hurried and unconstitutional method of appointing an electoral umpire that is supposed to be independent raised serious suspicion. practically all the political parties except the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rejected Iwu's appointment as lacking in transparency and a flagrant violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

''It is also on record that the Labour Party has reviewed these circumstances considered that our democratic development and progress should not be halted by that singular misunderstanding'', the party said.

The Labour Party therefore canvassed for support for Maurice Iwu and his INEC and mobilized the majority of the Political Parties to change their earlier position in favour of Professor Iwu's stay in office purely in the interest of the transition.

INEC, indeed in view of this new rapprochement engineered by the Labour Party imbibed and sustained regular consultation with the Political Parties on its programms and planned actions. This encouraged the Political Parties to consolidate its cordial relationship with INEC and INEC in turn assured the Political Parties persistently that the process leading to the 2007 general elections, the elections and its results will be the most transparent and credible process in the history of the Political transition in Nigeria.

It must also be admitted that Professor Iwu's several pontifications to the Political Parties and the general public swayed and persuaded both local and international communities as well as civil society organizations to believe him and to call for cooperation and support to the Commission.

Just before the first elections on the 14th of April 2007 for Governorship and State Houses of Assembly, Prof. Maurice Iwu explained in a live television programm covered by the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) and the AIT convinced the Council of State and the viewing public that Nigerians are in for something good and worthy of celebration. Even the highly critical Gen. Muhammadu Buhari the Presidential Candidate of ANPP and Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa the Presidential Candidate of the DPP applauded the level of preparedness of Prof. Maurice Iwu and his INEC. This indeed elicited not just a big applause from other members of the Council of State but from the viewing public as well.

It is with a heavy heart and great sense of disappointment even bothering on betrayal that the Labour Party is compelled to take a firm and objective stand on the already conducted elections as well as the forthcoming Presidential and National Assembly elections.

The Labour Party is aggrieved that its unflinching support to the INEC has been betrayed. The Labour Party can never be seen not to be on the side of the Nigerian people at all times and in all circumstances.

There is no word strong enough to describe the National tragedy called the 2007 general elections. The fraud perpetuated in that election is monumental and unprecedented. The level of mayhem and destruction of life and property resulting from INEC shoddy and deliberate fraudulent plot to disenfranchise Nigerians can only be likened to the fratricidal war going on in Iraq. Labour Party is a major victim of this disastrous electoral robbery presided over by INEC.

In Adamawa state, Violence was the order of the day in most local Government areas e.g. Maina, Numan, Yola South and Michika just to mention but a few. There was harassment, intimidation and beating of party Agents in some cases arrest. There was massive rigging with the active collaboration of uniform policemen in almost all the police stations with particular reference to those police stations located in remote areas of the state.

The general position is that electoral materials were hijacked even when they arrived late. Going by the total units result collated by our agents in the 2609 units in the state, the labour party led the elections in Adamawa state. Unfortunately, the 226 wards and 21 local Government areas result announced by INEC shows gross irregularities and distortion of figures collected from the 2609 units and signed by our Agents.

In many of the units where the Labour Party led the vote by a large margin, distorted figures were announced at the collation center.

In Imo state Governorship / State Assembly elections, the story was the same. INEC agreed that there was no election in the state but rather hijack of ballot boxes and electoral materials by paid hirelings. Although the Governorship election has been canceled by the INEC, INEC cannot justify nor proffer any sensible logic why the state assembly election was not equally canceled, and election that was conducted the same day, the same hour and under the same circumstances. The ballot boxes INEC agreed that was hijacked across the state in all the local Government areas contained both the ballot papers for the Governorship and State Assembly election.

In Ondo, we have no words to express the monumental fraud, daylight robbery perpetuated by INEC with the active support and collaboration of the Ondo State Government.

In the Southern Senatorial District where the Governor comes from comprising six (6) local government, namely Okiti pupa, Ilaje, Eseodo, Irele, Odibgo, Ile-Oluji/okeigbo, there was no voting because the Army and the police were used by top government functionaries like Mr. Kekemeka Commissioner for works, Olusola Oke - Chairman Oil Producing Commission, Awanebi S. A to governor Agagu, Femi Agagu chief of Staff and brother to the governor, Bisi Taiwo who is commissioner for Tourism, Chairman of Odigbo Local government Area and the Chairman of Irele Local government.

They all led the army and the police in all these local government areas through shooting into the air, all the ballot boxes were carted away in the morning before voting could start. These boxes were now returned in the evening with figures allocated to PDP.

There was no collation at the polling unit. The pattern of the votes allegedly won by the PDP were in sharp contrast to the area where voting took place.

They also went to all the remaining local government i.e. eleven (11) and carted away ballot papers in three (3) wards, each of the eleven (11) local government. That was how the Deputy Governor Omolade Oluwateru was caught in ward 10 of Akure South local government. Alasho Adura - Commissioner for Finance carted away ballot boxex in three wards at Iju in Akure local government. At ofe local government, 2 wards (afo and Ijagba) suffered the carting away of ballot boxes by the Chairman of the Local government Dennis Alonge.

In Akoko northwest local government, 2 biggest wards Surulere and Ajowa, ballot boxes were carted away by the Attorney General Yemi Alao.

Ifedore Local government, the two big wards of Ilara and Ipogun were carted away only to be returned in the evening with awarded marks

- In Owo local government, there was voting and we won over 70% of the votes
- In ondo west, there was voting and we won over 75% of the votes
- In ondo east, there was voting and we won over 70% of the votes
- In akoko southwest, there was voting and we won over 70% of the votes
- In Idanre local government, there was voting and we won over 70% of the votes
- In Akoko Southeast, there was voting and we won over 50% of the votes
- In Akure south local government, there was voting except in four (4) polling units where the Deputy Governor Omolade Oluwateru carted away ballot boxes and elections materials. Another two polling units in ward 5 where Professor Agbi - former Ambassador to Greece carted away ballot boxes and materials for election.

At ward four (4) three (3) polling units had their ballot boxes taken by Tony Ala (Special Adviser on information Technology) and the Chairman Akure South local government.

Inspite of the above, we won over 60% of the votes in Akure South.

Everywhere there was voting; we won over 60% of the votes, which was the pattern/feature in the election.

All the Political Parties, LP, DPA, AC held a meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Akure. The other Parties testified to the facts given above. It was agreed with the Resident Electoral Commissioner that the results in those areas where there was no voting be cancelled i.e. Ondo South Senatorial District, (six 6 Local governments) and Akoko Northeast local government it be cancelled.

Similarly, where ballot boxes were stolen or hijacked by military men that the purported elections in those areas be cancelled and no result be returned.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner agreed at this point haven agreed that there were anomalies as highlighted above. The REC also denied the announcement made by Abuja INEC that he did not have a hand in it since he was still collating results from the local governments as at the time the announcement was made by Abuja INEC Headquarters.

He thus dissociated himself from the activities of the INEC Headquarters before the Press, only for him to turn around three hours later to tow the line of the INEC Headquarters by announcing the results thereby ignoring the anomalies.

In Edo State, Adam Oshiomhole, labour party/ AC candidate's won convincingly in 14 Local Government Areas with more than 75% of the votes. In the other remaining Local Government Areas there was disruption of election through carting away of ballot boxes and electoral materials, intimidation of voters and in some cases massive arrest of voters and party Agents.

The INEC headquarters shamelessly declared another result against the provision of the electoral Act.

In Nasarawa State, what was announced was different from the results from the field in the areas where elections were conducted.

In Lagos State, INEC connived with AC members in virtually all the polling units. The AC openly used money to buy votes at polling units, no privacy in voting. Some polling unit had only one ballot box, while at collation centers two ballot boxes emerged. In Alimosho constituency 1, deliberate removal of symbol of labour Party and the pictures of our candidates from the ballot paper.

There were outright falsifications of result. In some polling unit, labour party was allocated a single vote. There was snatching of ballot boxes and electoral material. New polling units emerged that were not accounted for. There was disappearance of polling units and voters name from the register. Alteration of results to the disadvantage of labour party and collations omitted in some wards.

The story is the same in Plateau, Ekiti, Akwa- Ibom, Enugu, Oyo, Osun, and Delta States amongst others

All the other Political Parties have similar stories of woe. Is it not surprising that out of 50 registered Political Parties, only one party appears to be happy It is also interesting that even the PDP is pointing serious accusing fingers at Prof. Maurice Iwu and INEC over the outcome of the elections in Lagos and Abia States where PDP lost.

Prof. Iwu can now see that this National disaster he presided over has put him clearly on the wrong side of history. The Labour Party wishes to direct all Labour Party Candidates, officers and Party supporters and indeed the general public to stay away and boycott completely the planned 21st April Presidential /National assembly elections, unless and until the following conditions are met:
1. Cancellation of the Governorship and State Assembly Elections purportedly held on the 14ht of April 2007;
2. Reconstitution of the INEC with men and women of unquestionable integrity like Justice Kayode Esho, Justice C.Oputa, Justice Mohammed Uwais etc, just to mention but a few.
3. Removal of the Inspector General of Police Mr. Sunday Ehindero for collaborating with thugs and PDP Stalwarts on the field to undermine the wishes of Nigerian people.
4. None use of military personnel for election purposes for any reason whatsoever.
5. Rescheduling of all elections.
6. This government must however terminate on the 29th of May 2007.

We are taking this stand in the overall interest of the survival of our dear country Nigeria and to halt the loss of human life and property that is bound to occur. An election in which great majority of Nigerian will be disenfranchised can never achieve legitimacy. The provocation of such exercise will definitely be uncontrollable.

The labour party calls on other political parties to embrace this patriotic call for boycott and stay away directive in the overall interest for the survival of Nigeria. The disgrace and shame caused Nigeria and Nigerians by the tragic performance of INEC calls for severe sanctions on the perpetrators, collaborators and sponsors of the charade and dastardly act.

However, the minimum demand by the labour party is INEC as presently constituted be disbanded forth with and prosecuted to the full limit of the law. The beaurocracy of INEC should be extensively and exhaustively overhauled to bring in less corrupt and more patriotic Nigerians to serve in this very important Commission.

The presidency cannot be exonerated in the National disaster. The unpresidential pronouncement of Mr. President regarding the attitude of the Governors and the PDP to the election particularly the do or die posture of the PDP and the presidency, the arrogance of the PDP Chairman who boosted repeatedly that the PDP would win in 36 State of Nigeria and the presidential election all pointed to what Nigerians are experiencing now. We in labour part have lost the confidence that even Mr. President himself can preside over a free, fair and credible transition programme to the next regime.

In this regard, the labour party may suggest a political solution to the unfortunate situation we have found ourselves. We therefore call on the National Assembly to reconvene immediately to address these issues especially the issue of giving Nigerians a true Independent National Electoral Commission completely devoid of any executive influence or input.
We would not conclude this address without commending the Judiciary for it's boldness, fairness, courage and patriotism in hearing and discharging very sensitive and naughty political matters before it in record time. The challenge ahead calls for greater dedication and commitment at all levels of judicial arm of Government. Nigerians ultimate survival depends on them now more than ever before.

Finally, labour party is calling for the intervention of our international friends particularly in persuading the authorities in Nigeria to allow free and fair transition and avoids acts likely to compromise the corporate existence of Nigeria. We believe that we still have time and opportunity to save Nigeria.

ENDS

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