Group warns opposition against intimidating INEC, tribunal officials
Hundreds of protesters under on the aegis of The Natives on Monday warned the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, and his counterpart in the Labour Party, Peter Obi, against intimidating officials of both the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
The demonstration was a reaction to the outrage that greeted the outcome of the presidential election that produced the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Controversies have trailed the outcome of the presidential election where Tinubu polled 8,794,726 votes to defeat the PDP candidate and the LP standard bearer, who got 6,984,520 and 6,101,533 votes respectively.
Dissatisfied with the result, both Obi and Atiku had approached the election tribunal to seek permission to inspect the electoral materials used during the poll.
Few days later, the Court of Appeal in Abuja acceded to their requests for inspection of the electoral materials but the INEC denied the warring parties access to the certified true copies of materials used in the conduct of the poll.
The leadership of LP has threatened to occupy INEC offices nationwide if the commission fails to grant access to its lawyers to inspect the last presidential electoral materials.
But following the threat of nationwide demonstration, the electoral umpire eventually bowed to pressure by allowing Obi’s legal team to inspect the materials on Monday afternoon.
Reacting to the drama during Monday’s demonstration, the coordinator of The Natives, Smart Edwards, told journalists that supporters of the president-elect said the level of intimidation exhibited so far by the Obidient movement and the camp of Atiku is becoming overbearing.
Edwards further warned that if both parties and their candidates have grievances against the results as declared by the INEC, the sensible thing to do would be to seek legal redress instead of issuing threats that could put the nation’s democratic process at risk.
He said, “Today we are putting the nation on notice that no one will be allowed to intimidate the Nigerian judiciary any longer. We will not entertain it. These judges and the judiciary are the most crucial part of the hope that the democracy holds.
“The Obidients should understand that Asiwaju is a political juggernaut and election strategist. They were all part of the plan because the candidature of Peter Obi was an asset to the APC. The Obidients made Tinubu’s victory easy, they all made it possible. Ordinarily, it should have been Obi or Tinubu. Tinubu was not in the best position to steal the election but he planned well and worked vigorously for the victory.
“We also have a message for the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar; Your Excellency, it is time to test the court and not to intimidate the court. It is time to retreat and retire, or reset and re-contest again if your party is not tired of you.
“Your inability to be consistent in a party like Bola Ahmed Tinubu, shows it is all about you alone. No sir, the Supreme and Appeal Courts are not about you. Not even the election petition tribunal. It is about the rule of law.”
While commending INEC for a job well done, the group leader said no election all over the world is devoid of hitches.
This is even as Edward commended the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for allowing a free, fair and credible election that produced the president-elect.
“INEC must be allowed to do their work without molestation. Nobody is talking about the recorded voices of the PDP players which went viral recently where they were scheming to bribe or corner the INEC officials.
“We want to state categorically that Bola Ahmed Tinubu of APC won the election. The Lagos he lost should have been a taboo but the democrat in him publicly accepted the outcome without calling for anybody’s head,” he stated.
Reacting to the protest, Obi’s media aide, Tai Emeka Obasi, disclosed that it was a reflection of what the ruling party is always about.
Obasi stated that the only reason the party could gather people together to disrupt traffic despite being adjudged winner of the “rigged” election was to intimidate.
He said, “The guilty are always afraid. If the APC have no cockroach in their cupboard, why are they always protesting and pre-empting things? They should take their demonstration to the INEC office and tell them to allow us have access to inspect all the electoral materials. That’s where those unguided supporters should have taken their grievances, not on the streets of Abuja.
“Aso Rock or streets of Abuja is not INEC office. This has happened before and they know who their principal is. He is always on top of the situation, always trying to make moves to intimidate opposition. After all, he has enough resources to make such moves. But the Obidient movement is different. They always strive to do the right just as our principal has demonstrated.
“We also use this opportunity to warn that INEC, whatever their game plan is, wouldn’t succeed in its plan to frustrate us. The Obidients are far smarter than they thought. All these issues could have been averted if the commission has done the right thing.”