You are here: HomeNews2023 01 07Article 619016

General News of Saturday, 7 January 2023


Politicians after Yakubu, out to rig 2023 elections

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

With barely six weeks to the 2023 general elections, it is now crystal clear to most Nigerians that desperate and corrupt politicians who are scared of the outcome of the elections are doing everything to scuttle the process.

Legal fireworks against the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and attacks on its offices in parts of the country have convinced activists, clerics, senior lawyers, and others of a grand plot to subvert the polls.

The election riggers started from the National Assembly by shooting down INEC’s plan for the electronic announcement of election results until the uproar from Nigerians forced the lawmakers to rescind their decision.

Meanwhile, as there are indications of continued subterranean plots to remove INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, analysts have hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for bequeathing a new Electoral Law to Nigerians. They said with the law and ingenuity of the INEC boss, politicians have been running around like headless chickens, seeking to overturn the apple cart.

There have been at least four attempts to remove the INEC boss, the latest being through an Originating Summons marked FCT/HC/GAR/CV/47/2022 by Somadina Uzoabaka against the Attorney General of the Federation and Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, seeking among other things an order of mandatory injunction directing and compelling the INEC Chairman to recuse, excuse and exclude himself and or step down as the Chairman of INEC pending the investigation and consideration of the various allegations against him by the various law enforcement agencies.

The plaintiff also sought an order from the court stopping Yakubu from holding or assuming any public office for a period of ten years. But a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja during the week frustrated the plans to scuttle the 2023 general election by the removal of the INEC boss over alleged failure to declare his assets. Apart from quashing the allegations of false assets declaration against Yakubu, the court stopped security agencies from investigating him.

Also, the direct assault on the electoral umpire has taken the form of direct attacks by hoodlums who set fire to its offices in some states, especially in the Southern region, and destroyed physical structures, equipment and permanent voter cards.

Amid these challenges purportedly created by the desperation of politicians and their hirelings, some activists, senior lawyers, civil society groups and religious leaders who spoke to Saturday Vanguard, insist that the government must take extraordinary measures to ensure hitch-free polls this year.

They warned that Nigerians would resist any attempt to suspend the elections for any reason, stressing that the unfolding events were foreboding in view of the fact that they suggest a possible conspiracy by yet-to-be-identified persons who are bent on derailing or discrediting the 2023 elections.

Analyzing the development, former presidential spokesman and Arise Television anchor, Dr Reuben Abati and his colleague, Rufai Oseni, faulted the timing of the suit against the INEC Chairman.

They recalled how, only a few weeks back, the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele was in the news and the same court ordered the Department of State Services DSS to desist from making attempts to arrest him based on trumped-up charges of terrorism.

“Imagine if the court didn’t rule this way and it ordered the removal of the INEC Chairman, and then we begin to scramble for a replacement. You begin to wonder who are the people behind these developments and what the motive is”, they contended.

Expressing his personal views on the matter, Abati noted that since 1999, Nigerians have come to see elections as war. “Every election cycle, you see people, fifth columnists coming up with ways to derail the process, to compromise the process, to tarnish the integrity of the process.

“We have seen some people going to court to say that INEC cannot use electronic transmission and BVAS contrary to the stipulations of established law. And at some other time, we have had people targeting the person of INEC Chairman himself to say that he must be removed. They tried it in 2015, but that was resisted, now in 2023, a man called Somadina went before Justice Maryam Hassan in Abuja to ask for an order of mandatory injunction to say that the INEC Chairman falsified his assets declaration and secondly, for the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu to be barred for the next 10 years from holding any office in any territory in Nigeria.

“Justice Hassan ruled that the allegations were unsubstantiated and that they were fabricated because Prof. Yakubu was able to provide evidence that he indeed made a proper declaration of his assets and he provided proof of how he came about those assets.

And on the basis of that, the learned judge ruled that he had no case to answer and that those allegations were fabricated.

“With due respect, the only missing link in the ruling of the learned Justice Maryam Hassan is that she did not award costs against the plaintiff because the rules of court do not allow you as a litigant to come before the temple of justice with frivolous and vexatious allegations.