March 5, 2023. New Telegraph – Dr. Udeinya Onovo, an expert in Corporate Strategy and Economic Consulting, is the Head of Strategy and Research of the Peter Obi Support Network UK (POSN UK). In this interview with BIYI ADEGOROYE, he expresses the views of the group on the electoral process and the outcome of the February 25 general election in Nigeria
How did your group see the preparation for the 2023 general elections?
Since early last year, the Peter Obi Support Network Diaspora (Europe), which include various POSN chapters in Europe, have been following the preparations of the relevant authorities and political parties for the Nigeria General Elections 2023. We have been keeping notes and tonnes of information, including the reassuring pronouncement of the Nigerian President and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the general elections 2023 would be credible, fair, free, transparent, and peaceful. We recall that on September 21, 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a speech at the UN General Assembly said he had set the goal that one of the enduring legacies his administration would leave is to entrench a process of free, fair, transparent, and credible general elections. On January 17, 2023, at Chatham House in London, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, told the public that the INEC Results Viewing (IReV) portal and Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) would be used in elections to ensure transparency, openness, and best practice processes.
This same man, Yakubu, had previously, on November 23, 2022, when he received in audience the Commonwealth Pre-Election Assessment Mission, reassured Nigerians that INEC would upload polling unit level results at each polling unit to make it possible for the public to access election results in real-time. So, obviously, these two men occupying high offices have not fulfilled their promises because what happened on February 25 was a gross violation of due process.
So what is your grouse after the elections were conducted?
The issue is that INEC jettisoned due process and grossly violated Electoral Act, Constitution, and regulations. In this Internet age and the fact that millions of people have either a camera phone or android device, it was easy to obtain pieces of evidence of widespread irregularities and gross violation of electoral practice process. The POSN team on the ground collected tonnes of photographic and video pieces of evidence.
The scale of violence and electoral irregularities beggars belief. We must commend the POSN team on the ground, the media, polling agents, election monitors, CSOs, human rights groups, and independent local/international observers for exposing monumental rigging. Our observations include that: INEC officials arrived very late at many polling units across the six geopolitical zones. Some of the officials either arrived in the afternoon or arrived their duty post with incomplete materials. The logo of some political parties like the Labour Party (LP) were not represented on the election ballot papers in several polling units.
The New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) suffered as well given the complaint by their presidential candidate (during an interview with the Arise News) that the images of their party logo were blurred. Before the election, large quantities of PVCs were discovered in bushes, holes, and drains across the country before the election. After the election, the report reaching us is that some election result booklets have been found in a thicket in Rivers State. Many under-aged children were allowed to vote in some states in the Northern geopolitical zones’. Some mischievous INEC officials refused to upload and electronically transmit election results in contravention of the election guidelines and due process. In places where some electronic transfer of results took place, the officials deliberately did not upload polling unit level results of the presidential election in real-time.
This is a very serious violation and breach of election guidelines and due process. Miscreants armed with weapons freely roamed over parts of Rivers, Imo, Lagos, Edo, Kogi and several other states, attacking voters, and snatching or destroying election materials. We observed in daylight discriminatory ethnic profiling given how people of a particular tribe were warned in parts of Lagos State to stay away from polling units or face harm. A browse through iReV portal deployed by INEC reveals too many deliberate errors and falsification of election results. Some states like Bauchi and Gombe seem to have similar results across the various elective offices. Some rogue security agents and INEC officials were colluding to violate the integrity of the ballot. These infractions that we have highlighted are just a fraction of the whole.
So, considering the gross violation of due process, the POSN has no confidence in the ability of INEC under the leadership of Prof. Yakubu to deliver a free, fair, transparent, and credible election. We have already issued a press release demanding that Yakubu resign immediately.
What implications do you think these infractions have on the credibility of the election?
The streets in Nigeria are silent as grave because the people have rejected the sham results and would neither honour nor celebrate lies, falsehood, and criminality. Yes. No widespread celebration of election results because most Nigerians know the general election last Saturday was massively rigged. Of course, Peter Obi won the presidential election 2023. The manufactured election results announced by INEC further increased the mistrust of Nigerians on the electoral processes and the Nigeria establishments. The election results manufactured by enemies of the Youth further fuels voter apathy and the denigration of democracy. The POSN hope that the international community would seriously consider the implications of recognising or legitimising a fraudulent general election.
What is the view of your group on Mr. Peter Obi’s resolve to challenge the outcome of the elections?
The POSN wholeheartedly accept the position of His Excellency Peter Obi. We rightly anticipated it anyway. We are fully in support Obi’s decision to use legal processes to reclaim the mandate freely given by people. Obi of the Labour Party clearly won the Presidential Election 2023 based on the intelligence we have gathered which collaborates with the authentic results obtained by our agents on the ground in Nigeria.
First published by New Telegraph on March 5, 2023.