The opposition Peoples Democratic Party and the Coalition of United Political Parties on Thursday berated the Independent National Electoral Commission and President Muhammadu Buhari, alleging that there was a plan to rig the 2019 elections through the creation of 3,000 illegal voting centres
The PDP raised the alarm that the Muhammadu Buhari presidency and INEC were allegedly perfecting plans to rig the 2019 general elections by creating illegal polling centres in Chad and Niger Republic.
But Buhari and INEC had denied the allegations, saying they were prepared to give Nigerians free, fair and credible elections in 2019. The electoral umpire also explained that Nigerians in the diaspora and those in IDPs outside of the country would not vote in 2019.
However, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, alleged that INEC and President Buhari were plotting to secretly create polling centres outside Nigeria.
Ologbondiyan said, “Buhari, INEC and all Nigerians know that there are no provisions for Diaspora voting under our system. By the extant laws guiding elections in Nigeria, it is very clear who is eligible to vote, as well as the centres statutorily designated for elections. There is no provision for any special arrangement whatsoever.
“It is therefore reprehensible that President Buhari, in his desperation to rig the elections, is now trying to hide under the guise of making special provision for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) outside the country, to illegally create rigging centres outside our country and import contrived figures into the election results.
“This clandestine arrangement further validates the alarm earlier raised by the PDP of INEC’s plot to secretly create 30,000 illegal polling centres in some remote areas, through which they plan to allocate millions of votes to President Buhari and the APC.”
Ologbondiyan, who is also Director, Media and Publicity, PDP Presidential Campaign Council, further alleged that the APC and its candidate were not committed to the conduct of peaceful, credible, free and fair elections.
Also, CUPP alleged that foreigners from Chad, Niger and Sudan were being mobilised by some persons to take part in the 2019 presidential election.
The coalition’s first national spokesman, Imo Ugochinyere, made the allegation in a statement in Abuja.
Ugochinyere further claimed that the plot was meant to add fake five million votes to President Muhammadu Buhari’s votes in the election.
He said, “The Intelligence Unit of the CUPP has since uncovered the massive mobilisation of citizens from Chad, Niger and Sudan preparatory to their participating in the February 16 presidential election.”
The CUPP therefore called on the INEC chairman to retrace his steps and stand with Nigerians since the nation’s electoral laws till date prohibit diaspora voting.
Allegation is baseless, says INEC
However, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, said there was no truth in the allegations, saying Nigerians should disregard the rumour.
He said, “This is not a new allegation. It is not true. INEC is not planning to create one, not to talk of 30,000 polling centres. Nigerians should please disregard the rumour.”
INEC had earlier on Thursday clarified its position on voting by the IDPs. It said IDPs living outside the states they registered would only vote in the presidential election.
It also explained that internally displaced persons living in the state they registered would vote in all elections next year.
However, the commission said that it had not made provisions for the IDPs living outside the country.
The commission made the clarifications in a statement in Abuja by the Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye.
Okoye was clarifying a statement credited to the INEC chairman that IDPs in Chad and Niger Republic would be allowed to vote in 2019.
He said, “The commission wishes to state unequivocally that there will be no Diaspora or out-of-country voting for any Nigerian, in accordance with extant provisions of the 1999 Constitution. Only duly registered IDPs within Nigeria will be allowed to vote.
“It should, however, be noted that while IDPs currently residing in states where they registered can vote in all elections, those displaced from their states and are currently living in states other than where they registered can only vote in the presidential election.”
Also, at the workshop on election security, Yakubu said the commission’s decision to allow IDPs to vote in 2019 would be restricted to Nigerians living within the country.
Yakubu said the clarification became necessary in the light of speculations that Nigerian refugees in neighbouring countries would also take part in the elections.
I will ensure independence of INEC –Buhari
Also, the President who was represented at the workshop by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said his decision to uphold the independence of INEC was in line with his commitment to free, fair and credible elections.
Buhari re-affirmed his unwavering commitment to Nigerians to promote credible election just as he promised in his acceptance speech, on April 1, 2015.
The President said, “As the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I am committed to upholding the independence of INEC as this is a sacred pathway towards our democracy.
“I assure the nation of my determination to sustain this standard and to continually extend all requisite support to INEC in order to ensure the attainment of their mandate without any executive interference.”