By Ade Martins-
Fresh protests have rocked Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, over the recent elections, as protesters kicking against the May 29 inauguration of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
The aggrieved protesters are demanding the invocation of an Interim National Government, ING, to conduct a fresh election, a month after the elections in Africa’s most populous and disorderly country.
Protesters called on Presidential Muhammadu Buhari to put the ING in place before he leaves office on May 29. Protesting under the aegis of National Youth League for the Defence of Democracy, NYLDD, they also demanded the immediate sack and arrest of the chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, by the Department of State Services,DSS.
Yakubu has been accused of serious levels of corruption by many observers who feel his position is no longer tenable.
The protesters who were armed with placards with different inscriptions, they also asked several foreign embassies in Nigeria to immediately revoke the visas of 15 INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs.
The RECs they wanted sanctioned include those of Lagos, Rivers, Borno, Zamfara, Niger, Jigawa, Kano, Imo, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Ogun, Oyo, Cross River, Katsina and Edo states.
Addressing journalists at the Unity Fountain where the protest took off en route the appeal court, one of the leaders of the group, Dr Moses Paul, said the interim government was expected to appoint a new INEC chairman who would conduct a fresh election that should produce a befitting president for Nigeria.
He said: “We are citizens of Nigeria, lovers of Nigeria, standing on the path of our constitution and citizens’ rights. We are here particularly to address the greatest crime that has happened in the history of the world and in Nigeria.
“People were burnt in Kano, people were shot in Rivers, we have seen the greatest inhumanity happen in Lagos State in the course of this election.
“Two demands we are making are: we are asking the President of this country to immediately arrest and prosecute the chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who has committed the greatest fraud in the history of humanity. We need him arrested and prosecuted.
“Our number two demand is that we are asking that an interim government be put in place. We are saying that, because we do not want President Muhammadu Buhari to continue, his tenure is ending, so as a father he should put in place an interim government that will now appoint another INEC chairman who will conduct a free and credible election and produce a befitting president for our country.”
Asked to provide other options if the two demands were not met, one of the co-conveners, Anngu Orngu, said they were harmless Nigerians who would use every other civil and lawful means to make sure the demands put forward were met.
“We are here as frustrated Nigerians and the fundamental rights of Nigerians have been trampled upon by Mahmood Yakubu-led INEC and we are here calling for his immediate resignation. We have also requested that DSS should arrest him, and he should be prosecuted by the EFCC.
“We have been to the US Embassy, we have been to the British Council in Nigeria, and we have also submitted a letter to the French Embassy, calling on them to advise the Nigerian government that Nigerian people are not happy.”
In one of the letters made available to journalists and addressed to the United States Embassy, the protesters called for sanctions against the INEC chairman.
The letter read: “The conduct of the elections is in substantial non-compliance with the extant legal framework.
“These criminal actions of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu have led to the dampening of the revived spirit of youths who in anticipation of a country that works for all, turned out in their large numbers to vote, some for the first time in their lives, for their preferred candidates, only to be greeted with violence and subversion of their collective will.
“Based on the foregoing, we pray your good offices to, among others, appropriate sanctions, withdraw the visas of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, all the Resident Electoral Commissioners of states where these infractions were prevalent, particularly the RECs of Lagos, Rivers, Borno, Zamfara, Niger, Jigawa, Kano, Imo, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Ogun, Oyo, parts of Cross River, parts of Katsina and Edo states.
The protests came on a day that the Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar and his counterpart in the Labour Party, Peter Obi, accused the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, of deliberately avoiding petitions they filed to nullify his election.
They have both renewed their requests to the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja with ex-parte applications, seeking to be allowed to serve the petitions on Tinubu, through substituted means.
In their applications before the court, Atiku and Obi said all efforts to effect personal service of their petitions on him, proved abortive
The two parties dispute the declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had declared Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, as winner of the presidential poll, ahead of 17 other candidates that contested the election.
According to INEC, Tinubu, scored a total of 8,794,726 votes to defeat Atiku who polled a total of 6,984,520 votes and Obi of the LP who came third with a total of 6,101,533 votes.
They have accused INEC of acting in breach of its own electoral Regulations and Guidelines, the petitioners equally argued that Tinubu was not legally qualified to participate in the presidential contest.
Atiku alleges that the electoral body deployed a third-party device he said was used to intercept and divert votes to the APC and its candidate.
International observers have largely credited the integrity of Nigeria’s presidential elections, but are divided on whether the eventual outcome was unreflective of the will of Nigerian people. The elections were marred with violence, ballot snatching, and a violation of electoral rules whereby results were not immediately uploaded electronically as expected.
While both Obi and Atiku separately claimed that they won the election, they asked the court to either declare them winners or in the alternative, order a fresh election.
They called for the court to compel INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return it earlier issued to Tinubu of the APC.
Compelling evidence demonstrating the claims that the elections were rigged to the extent of substantially influencing the outcome, are yet to be heard.