The logic is simple. The 2019 presidential election in Nigeria cannot be, by all accounts, the worst election in the history of Nigeria without the corresponding INEC chairman being, at the same time, the worst INEC chairman in the history of Nigeria. INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, presided over an atrocious and fraudulent election that is now being fiercely contested in the courts. He can no longer remain as INEC chairman.
INEC is supposed to be an impartial umpire in elections in Nigeria. However, it is now obvious that Mahmood Yakubu’s INEC operated essentially as an arm of the ruling APC. The evidence is overwhelming that Yakubu’s INEC massively rigged the election in favour of the government. If integrity and impartiality is to be restored to INEC, Yakubu must leave immediately. If the confidence of Nigerians is to be restored in INEC, then the country deserves a complete overhaul of the organization.
INEC, under Mahmood Yakubu, has lost all credibility. It is now practically impossible to believe anything that comes from the organization. The election results it declared defied commonsense. The figures did not add up. The election was not even rigged intelligently. It was rigged on the presumption of impunity.
In many cases no voters were accredited, nevertheless fictitious returns were made. In others, total votes cast far exceeded registered voters. In Borno for example, only 372,347 votes were cast. However, 919,786 votes were declared; an inflation of 547,439 votes. The printing of election materials was contracted to the company of a member of the APC, who was also one of the party’s senatorial candidates.
Before the election, the use of card readers was declared to be mandatory. It was affirmed that the vote would be declared null and void where the card reader was not used. Nevertheless, in most areas of the North, the card reader was not used. The votes were simply inflated and deflated at INEC’s discretion.
In areas of opposition PDP strength, elections were strategically cancelled and supplementary elections scheduled. This ultimately enabled INEC to declare losers as winner and to convert winners into losers; as happened for example in Kano.
But what has proved to be the most indicting of INEC has been the question of the central server. Having somehow obtained the result posted on the INEC central server, Atiku has demonstrated that it is completely different from the result INEC declared publicly. On the INEC server, Atiku prevailed over Buhari by a plurality of 1.6 million votes; while INEC publicly declared that Buhari won the election by nearly 4 million votes.
This is no longer a question of nullifying the election. The only option left is to declare Atiku Abubakar outright as the elected president of Nigeria.
Atiku must be stopped
When the APC discovered to its dismay that Atiku had access to the INEC central server and had somehow obtained the real and authentic results of the 2019 presidential election, it went into panic mode. The party’s first knee-jerk response was to petition the police to arrest Atiku for hacking into the INEC server. But if Atiku did in fact hack into the server, what does that mean for the results he found there? The afterthought was to insist Atiku posted fake results into the server.
However, APC kingpins realized there would be trouble ahead if Atiku went public with his findings. The man had to be stopped, otherwise the victory they were celebrating would be in jeopardy. Therefore, they opted for the anomaly whereby although Buhari himself lost the presidential election of three previous occasions and took the matter to court every time, they became determined that Atiku must be dissuaded from taking the matter to court.
Emissaries, friends, some members of the National Peace Committee, some Northern elites and powers close to Atiku were sent to dissuade him from challenging the election at the Tribunal, fearful that Buhari’s phyrric victory would be scuttled if he did so. When that did not work, Lai Mohammed accused Atiku of treasonable felony and conspiracy against the federal government. So doing, it was felt that Atiku would be forced to plea bargain and part of the deal would be that his petition be cancelled.
It has now come to light that hundreds of fake Facebook pages were created to sell propaganda against Atiku. These were discovered and Facebook has already closed them. They were designed to sell the lie that Atiku is corrupt and that he is a wanted felon in the United States. But all that collapsed when Atiku visited the United States in 2018, demonstrating once and for all that the insinuations that he could not go there without being arrested was all a lie.
The same APC pretending to be holier than thou has ended up electing Femi Gbajabiamila as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives; in spite of the fact that it is on record that he was convicted for professional misconduct by the Supreme Court of Georgia, U.S.A. for defrauding a client. It has also elected Ovie Omo Agege as Deputy Senate President, despite the fact that he was also convicted of a felony while practicing law in the United States.
Servers don’t existent
Against all their pleas and arm-twisting, the shoe finally dropped when Atiku filed his petition. He posted for all to see that the result on the INEC server shows he won the election; and he authenticated this by quoting the serial numbers unique to the INEC server.
On this issue, the word from INEC has turned out to be lies upon lies. INEC’s first gambit was to declare to an incredulous public that it has no central electronic servers. Only God knows how it expected to get away with this lie. INEC officials has spent the better part of the campaign season boasting that their central server would make rigging elections obsolete in Nigeria. Therefore, they had set up servers in each of the 36 states of Nigeria and in Abuja.
So how could INEC now say it does not have a server? Where are the data of the 80 million registered voters stored if not in an electronic server? How does the card reader authenticate a voter’s PVC card without an electronic server? INEC conveniently forgot that it admitted publicly that it used its servers to collate results in the previous Ekiti and Oshun elections. So, how did these servers suddenly disappear?
Servers were not used
It soon became apparent that the lie that there are no servers could not be sustained, so INEC tried another gambit. It then said an INEC central server actually exists, but it was not used for the election. It was only used for rehearsals and dummy runs.
So how are we to explain the situation where INEC collected over N1 billion to upgrade the existing server against the 2019 elections, only to now shamelessly tell Nigerians that it only used it for experiments? What then was the point of the upgrade? Did rehearsals not already take place during the Ekiti and Oshun elections.
Why did Mahmood Yakubu himself boast before the election that: “we are pioneering and deploying in 2019 general elections, a new platform for the electronic collation and transmission of results.”
Clearly, another better lie became necessary again. So INEC tried this one for size. It said it could not have engaged in electronic collation of results because the Electoral Act intended to validate the process was not signed into law by the president. But this is simply not going to wash because INEC does not need the president’s permission in order to engage in electronic collation of results.
Section 160 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution states categorically that: “in the case of the Independent National Electoral Commission, its powers to make its own rules or otherwise regulate its own procedure shall not be subject to the approval or control of the president”.
Servers were used
But now the matter has been taken out of INEC’s hands. INEC has turned on itself. No less than 20 officials deployed during the election as INEC electoral officers have now come forward to say that they transmitted results electronically to a central server, using their smart card readers during the 2019 presidential election. In effect, the cat is now out of the bag. INEC and Mahmood Yakubu need to go back to their factory and manufacture other lies about the server.
The question now is how did INEC think it could get away with all these lies with so many people involved? Why was it necessary for INEC to tell all these lies? It can only be because it was fraudulent with the election. It can only be because it is trying to hide the truth that the result it declared to Nigerians claiming Buhari won the election is a lie. The true result must be the one on its server which it is trying to say does not exist.
Servers out of bounds
So, INEC had to change its line of defense yet again. Atiku wants the court to give him permission to inspect the INEC server. Even if the results posted there have been deleted, they can still be retrieved by forensic experts. What is INEC’s response to this? It does not want Atiku to see its non-existent server, that has now resurrected from the dead. It does not want its server released to Atiku, in spite of saying it was not used to collate the result. If it was not used, why not confidently submit it for inspection knowing nothing would be found there?
The long and short of this is that Mahmood Yakubu’s INEC can no longer be believed. By the earlier denial of not owning any servers, INEC is already guilty of evidence tampering, whether or not the servers contain the results as claimed by Atiku. Not wanting to release the server for inspection shows INEC has something to hide. It shows there is information in the server which it does not want to reveal to Atiku’s legal team and Nigerians.
What all this conveys is that Atiku actually won the election, but INEC manipulated the results against him.
Having been caught in lies upon lies, Mahmood Yakubu should do the honourable thing for a change. It is not realistic to insist that President Buhari should fire him. That is unlikely to happen since he was working to protect the president’s interests. But there is one road still open to Yakubu. He should resign without further delay. He has done enough damage already.
With regard to the presidency, this is no longer a question of nullifying the election. The only option left is to declare Atiku Abubakar outright as the elected president of Nigeria.
Femi Aribisala is an iconoclastic church pastor in Lagos. He is also a syndicated essayist for a handful publications in Nigeria. Connect with him on Twitter at @FemiAribisala and at his website, www.femiaribisala.com.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.