….Rejects directives to reshuffles RECs
Tunde Opalana, AbujaThe Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has demand an immediate probe of contracts awarded by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to Activate Technologies Ltd to produce sensitive election materials which include smart card readers and Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) by two internationally accredited Independent audit firms It also called for investigation of the level of partisanship of the owner of the firm Mohammed Musa and the implication of the continued handling of INEC material by such firm The PDP said President Muhammadu Buhari’s threat to the lives of Nigerians, at the opening of APC’s national caucus meeting in Abuja on Monday, is a direct call for jungle justice and attempt to perfect how plans to truncate democratic process will be perfected. The party said it is poised to reject directives by the Buhari’s Presidency to INEC to reshuffle Residents Electoral Commissioners (RECs) few days to the February 23 polls. The PDP chairman, Prince Uche Secondus in a letter addressed to INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu commended INEC’s decision to ensure full national elections and resist pressure to implement a partial postponement which would not have been in the best interests of democracy in Nigeria. However, he said the party was miffed by Prof. Yakubu’s response to a question on the involvement of Activate Technologies Ltd in the collection and reconfiguration of any card readers when they are taken to state-level to have the new date and time of the 23rd of February election programmed into them. Secondus also queried Yakubu’s response that he was aware and that INEC have no issue with the fact that Mohammed Musa is both a Senatorial Candidate and owner of this company that produces highly sensitive election materials including Card Readers and PVCs. This, he daid “goes against every international and Nigerian convention and law of nature – it is the equivalent of letting the fox into the hen coop or getting a student to answer their own homework”. Secondus in the letter went ahead to ask the INEC chairman,”Why would you not require an individual who is participating in an election in which he is providing the means to count his own vote demand immediately that his contract is terminated? “Furthermore, in the spirit of transparency that you stated today that INEC works to, why would you hire a company where the owner hides his ownership of the company through proxy shareholders? “Will INEC allow independent verification that none of the potentially compromised card readers supplied by Active Technology Ltd in the polling units in the 10 effected States have not been tampered with?”. The party went ahead to asked that two ICT and audit firms; KPMG and Price Waterhouse who have the expertise to evaluate whether the Card Readers have been compromised and that INEC should make provision for them to have unfettered access between 18-21st February as they are brought to CBN offices in some identified tates to do tests on units selected at random. “We also asked and you agreed whether independent verification that the sensitive materials returned to the CBN offices at State Level have not been tampered with. “We believe it makes sense to appoint one company to verify both issues or on the issue of sensitive materials we can use the Party officials and Observers. ” As promised I attach the list of Polling Units which have had Card Readers supplied by Activate Technology Limited which we believe may have been compromised to receive multiple fake PVCs, provide slower operation (in PDP strongholds to suppress our vote), count one card multiple times or other such manipulation. “Once the audit firm is agreed we would want to agree their methodology and the minimum number of units to represent a statistically significant number. Given the short time frame this appointment we believe will need to be made by Monday 18th February”, said the PDP National Chairman The PDP on the other hand has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s calll on security agents to shoot at sight would be ballot box snatchers during coming elections, describing such directives as capable of triggering widespread political crisis to derail the democratic process and plunge the nation into anarchy. The party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan condemned the President for uttering such words capable of setting the nation ablaze. The party said “President Buhari’s threat to the lives of Nigerians, at the opening of APC’s national caucus meeting in Abuja today, is a direct call for jungle justice and attempt to divert public attention from their closed session where details of their dastardly plot to truncate our democratic process will be perfected. “We do hope that this call by President Buhari is not a camouflage for the fake soldiers mobilized by the APC to shoot at innocent Nigerians, snatch ballot boxes and execute their rigging plans on the election day. It is indeed a license to kill, which should not come from any leader of any civilized nation. “The underlining fact to the above is that President Buhari and APC leaders, upon getting to their voting constituencies last Saturday, realized that there is a nationwide rejection of Buhari’s re-election bid, and this has thrown them into a panic mode. “President Buhari must however bear in mind that his resort to threats and scaremongering will not deter Nigerians from coming out en-masse to vote him out of office on February 23. “We are aware that President Buhari, who had earlier boasted that nobody can ‘unseat’ him, is bent on using every dictatorial and tyrannical act to truncate the process of a free, fair and credible election. Relying on intelligence available, the party alleged that the Buhari Presidency has directed the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately reshuffle the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in order to deploy compromised officials to manipulate the electoral process in President Buhari’s favour, as they did with the police shortly before February 16. Ologbondiyan added that the PDP was also aware of the pressure being mounted by the Buhari Presidency on INEC to cancel elections in some states and make others inconclusive so as to achieve President Buhari’s objectives of a staggered election not minding the crisis such will trigger across the federation. It called on Nigerians and the international community to hold President Buhari personally responsible for any electoral crisis. Nevertheless, the PDP assured President Buhari that the nation is bigger than him and that Nigerians will never allow him and the APC to rig this election. “Nigerians have reach an irreversible democratic consensus to vote Buhari out and elect the Peoples Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who is ready to rescue our nation from the hardship, anguish, agony and bloodletting which the Buhari administration has plunged us”, he said .