Apart from the numerous supporters in the country who have been lamenting what they termed electoral injustice meted out to their principal, Peter Obi, the supporters who live in Europe have joined in the protest for the Labour Party Presidential candidate to reclaim his supposedly stolen mandate.
In a statement titled, “Nigeria’s Failed General Election of 2023’, and dated February 28 2023, available to Sunday Independent, The Peter Obi Support Network Diaspora (Europe), while lamenting the political situation in the country presently over the presidential election, also joined in the call for the resignation of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mamood Yakubu
With the numerical strength of 1,042 members, the group stated that its main aim and objective is to ensure good governance in Nigeria.
Although this 2023 election is the group’s preliminary involvement in a Nigeria election, now that the INEC Chairman has declared Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the presidential election instead of its preferred candidate, Peter Obi, POSN Diaspora (Europe), which towed the line of its principal, said it will initial legal proceedings against INEC for the declaration.
In the statement signed by Dr Udeinya Onovo, Head of Strategy and Research; Dr. Ugo Nweke, Deputy Coordinator (Operations), and Comrade Princewill Urum, Global Coordinator, POSN Diaspora (Europe), it said that over several months leading up to the Nigerian general elections 2023, the Peter Obi Support Network Diaspora (Europe) had been following the preparations of the Federal Government and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC);and documenting the reassuring statements and pronouncements by the notable state actor and the electoral commission that the election would be free, fair, transparent, credible, and peaceful.
It stressed: “We recall that on September 21, 2022, the Nigerian President, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly said, ‘As President, I have set the goal that one of the enduring legacies I would like to leave is to entrench a process of free, fair and transparent, and credible elections through which Nigerians elect leaders of their choice.’
“Nigerians were repeatedly reassured about INEC’s readiness for the Nigerian general elections in 2023. During a lecture at Chatham House in London on January 17, 2023, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, declared that the INEC Results Viewing (IReV) portal and Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) would be used.
“He said: ‘We have worked closely with stakeholders and development partners to confront these challenges and we are satisfied with our preparations so far.’ Yakubu had previously, on November 23, 2022, when he received the Commonwealth Pre-Election Assessment Mission, reassured Nigerians: ‘The commission will upload polling unit level results and citizens will have access to those results in real-time as we upload.’”
However, the Peter Obi Support Network Diaspora (Europe) stated that it appreciated the voiced commitment of the Nigerian government and the Independent National Electoral Commission to delivering a free, fair, transparent, credible, and peaceful general election 2023.
It lamented that during the recently held presidential election in 2023, which was held on February 25, there were abounding evidence of widespread irregularities and gross violation of international best electoral practice processes as recorded and archived for posterity by several mainstream media outfits, political parties, polling agents, election monitors, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), pollsters, human rights groups, and independent local/ and international observers.
It stressed: “Some of the despicable, lacerating, and totally unacceptable gross irregularities leading up to and playing out during the ‘failed’ presidential election on February 25, 2023, are highlighted below following extensive study of tonnes of photographic and video pieces of evidence gathered by a team of experts, corporate partners, election observers, the press, and investigative journalists.”
The group listed the irregularities as follows: “Very late arrival of INEC officials at many polling stations across the six geopolitical zones, though it appears worse in the southern geopolitical zones, where several election officials either turned up for election duties in the afternoon or arrived with incomplete materials.
“Omission of the Labour Party (LP) logo on the election ballot papers in several states in the southern geopolitical zones, for example, Lagos State.
“Blurred logo of political parties on ballot papers: A serious error raised by the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) presidential candidate during an interview with the Arise News on February 25, 2023.
“Large quantities of PVCs illegally dumped in bushes, drains, holes, and bins across several states (like Anambra, Rivers, Lagos) in the southern geopolitical zones.
“Underaged children were accredited and allowed to vote in some states in the northern geopolitical zones’ contrary to the provisions of the law.
“Deliberate violation of procedures by election officials who failed or refused to upload and electronically transmit most of the election results. In places where some electronic transfer of results took place, INEC officials successfully uploaded some National Assembly results, but were unable or deliberately prevented from uploading the presidential election results.
“Using compromised BVAS that were apparently programmed to block the uploading of presidential election results.
“Hoodlums armed with weapons freely roamed over parts of Rivers, Lagos, Edo, Kogi and several other states, engaging in daylight snatching and deliberate destruction of election materials in several polling units.”
The group also alleged that armed brutes took over several polling units in parts of the South-west and South-south, though this appeared more rampant in Lagos and Rivers stats, to intimidate both the voters and election officials, destroy election materials, and maim people.
It lamented that discriminatory ethnic profiling was at play and people of a particular tribe were warned in parts of Lagos State and prevented from voting and warned to stay away from polling units or face dire consequence.
According to the group, there were large-scale mutilation, manufacturing, and falsification of election results in a manner that was unimaginable and unprecedented in Nigeria’s history.
It noted also that there was inadequate security at several polling units given how miscreants easily overpowered security personnel, and stole or destroyed election materials, thereby preventing several voters from carrying out their civil duty to vote.
It alleged that some rogue security agents and compromised election officials openly colluding with anti-social elements to create confusion, cause a breach of the peace, and violate the integrity of the ballot.
The group explicated: “In one case reported by a section of the press, some of the suspects were apprehended in Akwa Ibom State by gallant personnel of the Nigerian Military and handed over to the Nigerian Police Force for interrogation and/or prosecution.
“Considering the noticeable monumental irregularities, of which the exposition is already viral in public spaces, there is no doubt that most of the Nigerian people have lost confidence in the ability of INEC to deliver a free, fair, transparent, and credible general elections in 2023.
“Also, a serious concern is that most of the people do doubt the interest of the Nigeria government to carry out its primary responsibility to ensure the welfare and security of lives and properties. So, the country is now at a crossroads such that timely steps must be taken to prevent a complete descend into anarchy.”
Consequently, the Peter Obi Support Network Diaspora (Europe) called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to strictly adhere to the letters and spirit of its election manuals and rule books on the 2023 general elections.
The group stressed: “We strongly urge the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to avoid further gross violations, extensive breach of enshrined election standards and democratic principles.
“The electoral body, INEC, must abide with and strictly uphold the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because further unconscionable violations is akin to pouring fuel on a fire which is highly dangerous given the tension in the land.
“We urge the Nigerian government under the leadership of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, to ensure that the law enforcement agencies are alive to their responsibilities of maintaining law and order, arrest and diligently prosecute criminals that violate the law or disrupt the peace no matter their sponsors.”
The Peter Obi Support Network Diaspora (Europe) also craved the assistance of the International Community, particularly the Commonwealth, African Union, Europe, United Nations, United States, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Israel, and other strong democracies around the globe to ensure that the integrity of the ballot is protected by prevailing on the national authorities in Nigeria to ensure a free, fair, transparent, credible, and peaceful 2023 general elections.
It stated: “We call on Nigerians to shun violence, but the people should insist that INEC must as a matter of urgency begin to show unfettered openness and transparency in the conduct of elections and result circulation by uploading into their systems (servers) all authentic election results, sack corrupt election officials, and use non-compromised election materials and devices.
“The POSN Diaspora (Europe) welcomes the decision of several political parties, including the Labour Party (LP) that have called for suspension of the announcement of election results and cancellation of compromised election over ‘non-compliance with the provisions of the electoral guidelines and obvious manipulation of the election results.’”
The POSN Diaspora (Europe) also commended what it termed “the priceless sacrifice and timely fatherly advice by elder statesman and former Nigerian Head of State and President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (GCFR), who had sued for peace and demanded that the Nigeria government and INEC take the right measures to correct all forms of electoral irregularities by outrightly cancelling “all elections that do not pass the credibility and transparency test.”
According to the group, “We hope the Nigeria government, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and the International Community would heed the voices of reason to ensure unity and peace in Nigeria
Lastly, for the people of Nigerian, the group has this advice: “Don’t give up, don’t stop believing. Please go out en masse to vote for Labour Party candidates in both the Governorship and House of Assembly Elections across the country on March 11, 2023, so that we can continue to change the face of Nigeria politics.”