The Peoples Democratic Party members on Monday besieged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, headquarters in Abuja in protest of the outcome of the February 25 presidential election, which the party’s standard bearer, Atiku Abubakar, and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi, claimed to have won.
The electoral commission had declared the All Progressives Congress candidate, Bola Tinubu, the winner of the election after scoring a total of 8, 794, 726 votes, but the PDP and LP denounced the result and vowed to challenge it in court.
Leading the protest march which was attended by the National Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, and his Taraba State counterpart, Darius Ishaku and other chieftains, Atiku again rejected the declaration of the former Lagos State governor, Tinubu, as the president-elect, vowing that the protest would continue indefinitely.
The march also had in attendance a former National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus; Senator Dino Melaye, a former Imo State governor, Emeka Ihediaha, and former Adamawa State governor, Boni Haruna among party chieftains.
Speaking to newsmen outside INEC headquarters, Atiku also vowed that the protest would continue.
He said, “All the provisions of the current electoral law have been completely contravened. We were protesting and then INEC was not listening and went on to announce the result. That is why we are protesting. We have the right to protest and it will continue for a very long time, either every day or any other day. We have the right to protest under the constitution, and it doesn’t stop us from going to the court.’’
The PDP in a protest letter warned INEC against messing up the coming governorship and state houses of assembly elections.
The letter was received on behalf of the INEC National Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, by the National Commissioner and Chairman Voter Education and Publicity, Festus Okoye.
The PDP National Chairman, Ayu, stated “We call on your commission to suspend the ongoing transmission of the polling units results to your servers which is in complete breach of the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
“We reject and declare as unacceptable the outcome, announcement, and declaration of the presidential election results.
“We want to warn your commission against a repeat of the experiences of the February 25 election in the coming governorship and state assembly elections of March 11, 2023. Any attempt to manipulate the electoral process will be vehemently resisted.
“We demand an explanation why you proceeded with the declaration of the election results marred by irregularities against all calls to address the complaints brought to your attention before and during the collation process.’’
While condemning the alleged absurdity that characterised the presidential election, Ayu said Nigeria should be seen as a country governed by the rule of law, pointing out that it was a responsibility that the party owed the citizens.
He called on all Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora to stand firmly in defence of their rights, votes and “stolen mandate.’’
The party further stated, “We call on all Nigerians to be co-partners in defence of our democracy, votes, the rule of law and their rights to freely choose the candidates of their choice.’’
While presenting the protest letter, Ayu insisted that INEC must cancel the election and conduct a fresh one “that will be respected not only by Nigerians but by the whole international community.”
Speaking after receiving the letter, Okoye stated, “So I have received this protest letter on behalf of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission and I promise you this letter will be transmitted to him.
“If there are remedial issues we will deal with those remedial issues. But I want to assure you that this commission is a listening commission. This commission is a public trust and this commission belongs to the Nigerian people. This commission does not owe allegiance to any political party.
‘’We don’t have any allegiance to any candidate. Our allegiance is to the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I want to thank all of you for the peaceful way this protest has been conducted but I want to plead that all of us should continue to be peaceful and all us should continue to respect the integrity of the commission and also the integrity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“I am going to go and hand over the protest letter to the chairman of the commission and I want to assure you that the commission will meet over this letter, look into it and address some of the issues.”
The protesters, who were dressed in black, started their demonstration from Legacy House, causing heavy traffic congestion around the Maitama axis.
But reacting to the procession, the APC presidential campaign council urged former vice president Atiku to desist from allowing his campaign spokesman, Dino Melayo push him around.
The PCC also noted that dancing ‘Skelewu’ on the streets of Abuja won’t make the INEC change its mind about the winner of the presidential election.
A statement issued by PCC Director of Media and Publicity, Bayo Onanuga, and titled ‘Atiku Abubakar and his band of jesters at INEC headquarters’ disclosed that the ruling party was surprised to discover that rather than keep his promise to seek legal redress, Atiku allowed himself to be tele-guided by his political foot soldiers, including Melaye.