INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, has reacted to the Labour Party’s call that he should be immediately dismissed and prosecuted.
The Director General of the Labour Party (LP) Presidential Campaign Organisation, Akin Osuntokun, said on Thursday that Mr Yakubu, INEC spokesperson, Festus Okoye, and other top officials of the commission ought to be sanctioned by the international community for their role in conducting an election that he said was not impartial.
“We also demand unequivocally, the immediate dismissal from Office and prosecution of Prof Mahmud Yakubu,” he said at a press briefing in the party’s National headquarters in Abuja on Thursday.
The presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the last election, Peter Obi, who came third, is challenging the victory of President Bola Tinubu in an election conducted by Mr Yakubu’s commission.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who came second, is also challenging Mr Tinubu’s victory in court.
Call for forensic investigation
Apart from calling for dismissal, Mr Osuntokun also called for a forensic investigation into the expenditure of the 2023 general elections including the donors’ funds received by INEC and especially the N300 billion from the Nigerian government.
The LP Campaign DG listed parts of election observer groups’ reports that highlighted flaws in the recent general election.
He said: “The EU Election Observation Mission, as well as the Civil Society Situation Room, NDI -IRI, YIAGA etc are all INEC accredited observer groups, as well as very credible and long standing international and local stakeholders, in the Nigeria democratic process, whose reports are an essential contribution towards strengthening Nigeria’s democracy,” he said.
Mr Osuntokun condemned the negative responses that trailed the EU report from the Nigerian government.
President Bola Tinubu had rejected the EU-EOM report, describing it as “a product of a poorly done desk job”, in a statement by his spokesperson, Dele Alake.
But Mr Yakubu’s media aide, Rotimi Oyekanmi, described the LP’s calls for his dismissal as familiar, saying it is misplaced.
He said the Labour Party does not have the jurisdiction to demand the dismissal and prosecution of the INEC chairman over the outcome of an election in which the party fielded candidates.
He wondered why the LP, which is in court to challenge the outcome of the 2023 presidential election, would still go about openly advocating the issues before the court at press conferences, describing it as sub judice.
“The reasons adduced by the party for making the demand is not only illogical, but also ridiculous,” he said.
“Interestingly, arising from the outcome of the same 2023 General Election, the Labour Party has now produced one state governor, eight senators, 35 House of Representatives members and 38 members of the State Houses of Assembly,” he added.
Mr Oyekanmi also said the election observer groups accredited by INEC had specific rules and regulations that required them to submit their reports to the commission.
“Such reports may or may not include their recommendations,” he said.
According to him, indicting the commission is not within the purview of the election observer groups.
“Therefore, it is not within the remit of any election observer whatsoever to indict INEC. They are to observe, make recommendations if they have any, but never to indict,” he said.
“The Labour Party is one of the 18 political parties registered and being regulated by INEC in Nigeria. The party will do well by restricting itself to activities permitted under the rules and regulations governing the conduct of political parties.”
Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe
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