INEC Received & Acknowledged Our Petition - Atiku

Source: THEWILL. -

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 14, The Atiku Media Office has refuted the statement credited to the Director of Public Affairs of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr. Emmanuel Umenger dismissing the existence of a petition by the Atiku Campaign Organisation on the irregularities that characterised the January 13, 2011 PDP presidential primary.

In a statement in Abuja obtained by THEWILL, the Atiku Media Office described as worrisome a situation where a petition that was authored and duly sent to INEC should now become a subject of controversy.

According to the Media Office, the petition which was written on January 28, 2011 on behalf of the Atiku Campaign Organisation by its Director General, Senator (Dr.) Ben Obi was received and acknowledged by INEC on January 31, 2011.

The media office backed its claim with a copy of the petition with an INEC acknowledgement stamp.

Below is the petition.
28th Jan, 2011
The Chairman
Independent National Electoral Commission
INEC Headquarters

The above named Organisation on behalf of Atiku Abubakar GCON, former Vice President and one of the P.D.P. Presidential aspirants wishes through this petition to draw your attention to the apparent lack of openness and fairness in the recently conducted P.D.P. Primary process which flagrantly violated the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), P.D.P. Constitution and the P.D.P. Presidential Primary election guidelines.

In the light of such lapses, uncertainty, unfairness, secrecy, non-disclosure of vital information and outright breaches of both the Party’s Guidelines for the conduct of the Presidential Primary election and the extant Electoral Act, the Atiku Campaign Organisation was compelled to warn the PDP leadership not to allow a repeat of the chaotic and undemocratic primaries conducted earlier in the states for State Assembly, National Assembly and Governorship candidates.

For example, the composition of the National Convention Committee, which had the overall mandate of planning and executing the primary election programme, was not made public until 72 hours before the convention. This violated Paragraph 7 (b) of the P.D.P Electoral Guidelines 2010. Similarly, the identities of members of the screening committee were also not released until 72 hours before the screening of presidential aspirants on 11 January 2011. The PDP leadership kept the Atiku Campaign in the dark on critical issues and processes up till the time the primary kicked off.

The ground rules governing the primary election ought to have been agreed upon and signed by all the parties involved, and such an agreement should not only be binding on all parties, but should also have been published and widely advertised in the print media. This is stipulated in Paragraph 8(b) of the P.D.P. Electoral Guidelines 2010. The agreement on the special convention ground rules would have been one major way to ensure that the primary election process was objective, impartial, fair, just and not programmed to produce a predetermined end. But the PDP leadership refused to be guided by these basic democratic norms.

Also, the list of delegates who would vote at the primary election ought to have been published and widely advertised in the print media prior to the primary as spelt out under Paragraph 8(b) of the P.D.P. Electoral Guidelines 2010, so as to forestall the list either being tampered with or its integrity being substantially compromised. But the list of delegates was sighted for the first time by members of the Atiku Campaign while voting was in progress. The list of delegates is crucial to the successful conduct of any primary election. It is as important as the list of Nigerian Voters which the INEC is required by law to publish before the conduct of the general election.

The Atiku Campaign also drew public attention to the unacceptable situation in some states where delegates were barred from meeting Atiku Abubakar on the directive of the governors. Such states included Jigawa, Ebonyi, Abia, Kaduna and Akwa Ibom. It was clear that PDP state governors were under intense pressure from the presidency not to allow Atiku Abubakar to meet the delegates from their states. The PDP leadership refused to take a firm and decisive action against this undemocratic practice or primitive display partisanship. This was an infraction of Section 85 (3) of the Electoral Act 2010 which states that all elections including primaries “shall be conducted in a democratic manner and allow for all members of the Party or duly elected delegates to vote in support of a candidate of their choice.”

The Atiku Campaign wondered why preparations for the conduct of the PDP Presidential primary election appeared to be going on in extreme secrecy, thus making the entire process suspect and placing it under grave threat of manipulation by the powers that be. With 48 hours to the primary, the Atiku Campaign Orgamization was still completely in the dark about such crucial issues as the venue/location for the accreditation of delegates; the number of its officials who were entitled to special passes; the security arrangement for such a huge political undertaking; the nature and context of the voting method to be adopted; the number and arrangement of ballot boxes; the nature of ballot papers to be used, and if they had any special identification; mode of counting the ballot papers; and the announcement of results. This is contained in Paragraph 8(b) of the Party Electoral Guidelines 2010 but was not followed.

Although the Atiku Campaign Organization had demanded that accreditation of delegates and election officials be made open and transparent, the party leadership ignored this. The accreditation was handed over to state governors and ministers who hand picked those they trusted would vote for President Jonathan and left out suspected Atiku sympathizers from the convention. This was also in violation of Section 85(3) of the Electoral Act 2010.

Despite Atiku Campaign Organization’s vehement opposition to state by state voting and the labeling of ballot boxes according to states, the PDP went ahead to do just that. Giving the statement credited to Chief Tony Anenih, former BOT Chairman, issuing threats to delegates that “they will be fished out and dealt with if they cast their vote for Atiku”, such voting pattern intimidated delegates and made them unable to vote according to their consciences. This action was against the spirit and letter of Section 131 of the Electoral Act 2010.

When the composition of the Presidential Screening and Convention Committees were eventually made public, the Atiku Campaign Organization raised critical issues with the lopsidedness of the membership of the two committees. The campaign listed at least eight of the members of the committees who were outrightly hostile to aspirant Atiku Abubakar. They include:

1. Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State:
The governor has gone on record to express his virulent opposition to Atiku Abubakar. He recently denounced Atiku Abubakar as a “desperado” and called him other unprintable names. He has blocked all avenues for Akwa Ibom State delegates to meet with our aspirant. He even went as far as threatening any of them who dared to meet with Atiku Abubakar.

2. Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State:
The governor has never hidden his support for Jonathan. He is the chief mobilizer and financier of the Jonathan/Sambo Campaign in Oyo State. He recently told a newspaper interviewer that he had bought 35 cars for the Jonathan/Sambo Campaign and that if Jonathan does not win, Nigeria will break up.

3. Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State:
The governor is also the chief campaigner and financier of the President and his deputy in Abia State. His hostility towards our aspirant is such that Abia State delegates have been too scared to meet openly with our aspirant.

4. Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State:
His bitter and utterly uncouth utterances in recent times against Atiku Abubakar clearly exposed him as a rabid Atiku hater. He has intimidated and forced some of the Atiku Campaign officials to resign their appointments.

5. Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba is the Co-ordinator of the Jonathan/

Sambo Campaign in the Senate. It would also be recalled that Ndoma-Egba chaired the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on PTDF that was programmed to indict our aspirant in 2006 over the management of PTDF money.

6. The Secretary of the Convention Committee, Chief Ojo Maduekwe,

has been an Obasanjo lackey and he also serves as the Deputy Coordinator of the Jonathan/Sambo Campaign in the South East.

7. Dr. Nuhu Zagbayi serves as the North Central Coordinators of the Jonathan/Sambo Campaign.

8. Chief Sylvester Okonkwo who is to act as the Secretary of the Presidential Screening Panel is a Special Assistant to Governor Godswill Akpabio. Chief Okonkwo has openly derided and insulted our aspirant.

It was therefore obvious that with a preponderance of anti-Atiku people in the two Committees, Atiku could not expect a fair deal.

The National Chairman never responded to these complaints.

One other example of the absence of a level playing field throughout the period leading to the primary was the unprofessional use of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and the African independent Television (AIT) to persistently air defamatory advertorials against Atiku Abubakar. The Atiku Campaign formally reported the two television stations to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the regulatory body. But the government-controlled NBC ignored our complaints, thus giving both the NTA and AIT free rein to broadcast lies, fabrications and unproven allegations against our principal.

On hindsight, it has become obvious that the process leading to the conduct of the presidential primary election was programmed to yield a pre-determined outcome. Even if the Atiku Campaign Organization had executed its strategic programme optimally, the result would have been only marginally different. A grand conspiracy against Atiku Abubakar was constructed between the presidency, the party leadership and the bulk of the PDP state governors to produce only one result – the success of Jonathan at the primary election. This is clearly not in consonance with the provisions of Section 87(3) of the Electoral Act 2010.

A report by Alhaji Halilu Bala Usman, Atiku’s polling agent, at the special convention, clearly showed that the party leadership and the presidency carefully planned and executed the monumental rigging of the presidential primary on January 13, 2011.

Alhaji Bala Usman, former deputy governor of old Plateau State, carefully documented his observations as follows:

1. The absence of the comprehensive delegate list aided the manipulation of the election process in favour of President Jonathan. It was also curious to observe that supplementary names were presented at the accreditation venue and purportedly endorsed by the respective States PDP Chairmen. This violated Section 122 of the Electoral Act 2010.The lists of delegates used for the elections had therefore been doctored before the issuance of ballot papers which resulted in over voting and in some cases issues of unaccounted votes. For example, sixteen Plateau State House of Assembly members who decamped to Labour Party with Deputy Governor Pauline Tallen were replaced with some other people by Governor Jonah Jang and they were allowed to vote as delegates. A delegate from Anambra State was shocked that as a former governorship candidate that he could not recognize most of those who presented themselves as delegates from the state. He actually sent away 20 fake delegates from the state contingent. Vehement protest from Alhaji Shehu Gabam, the Deputy Director-General of Atiku Campaign for mobilization, led to the disqualification of 26 persons who had showed up as Bauchi State delegates and were in fact being processed to vote.

2. Delegates were also not accorded their independence to make their choices as in most cases; State Governors led their delegations and directed the filling of the ballot papers by their appointed aides for President Jonathan. A close associate of Governor Akwe Doma of Nasarawa, Alhaji Walid Jibrin, was seen filling the ballot papers for all the delegates from the state. Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State nearly came to blows with the former Action Congress Chairman in Kaduna State, Alhaji Aliyu Yahaya, when he was challenged over his over-bearing attitude towards the delegates. Governor Lamido was ordering Jigawa State delegates to fill Jonathan’s name on the ballot papers. In Osun State, Youth Minister Akinlabi stood at the entrance of the polling station coercing delegates to vote for Jonathan and he was seen live on television. In Adamawa State, a close associate of Governor Murtala Nyako instructed delegates to vote for Jonathan or risk being dealt with by the state government when they returned home. Similarly, Defence Minister Adetokunbo Kayode was very visible around the polling station for Ondo State, directing delegates to vote for Jonathan and threatening to punish those who voted for Atiku. The Katsina State Commissioner for Local Government Councils was seen filling ballot papers for delegates in favour of Jonathan. This equally violated Section 122 of the Electoral Act 2010.

3. The election process was purportedly conducted based on the issued PDP electoral guidelines vide Paragraph 7(d) which unfortunately established and gave the Electoral Panel absolute power to control the voting pattern that ended up to the disadvantage of Atiku Campaign. The Strategy and Rapid Response Committee suspected and highlighted this issue prior to the convention.

4. No special congresses were held anywhere in the country for the purpose of electing the 774 special delegates who voted in the primary. Names of presidential functionaries, including Ministers and Advisers, as well as trusted aides of state governors were merely compiled and passed off as national delegates. These were the people who were used to do the dirty jobs during the primary election. They worked closely with state governors to whip delegates in line and in some cases they actually filled ballot papers for delegates. This negated the provisions of Part II (A) (i) of the P.D.P. Electoral Guidelines 2010.

5. Names of State Working Committee members, Local Government Chairmen, etc were changed days to the primary election and known supporters of the President were allowed to vote in place of those disenfranchised statutory delegates.

6. Accreditation of delegates was done in secrecy at state liaison offices in Abuja. The Atiku Campaign was deliberately denied access to these locations. In fact, state governors imprisoned delegates against their will at these locations throughout the night before the primary and bussed them to the venue of the convention the following day.

7. Delegate tags were deliberately designed without a mark of identification so that anybody could get a hold of it and vote as delegates. This action contravened Paragraph 8(d) of the Electoral Guidelines 2010.

8. President Jonathan doled out seven thousand dollars to each of the delegates, thus using financial inducement to make them vote for him.

9. Atiku lost the primary election not to the best candidate but due to the manipulations of the delegate list and the entire voting process. Consequently, the polling agents (Bala Usman, Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim and Adinoyi Ojo Onukaba) did not sign the final result notwithstanding the provisions of Section 9 (b) & (c) of the Electoral Guidelines 2010 that gave the Panel the absolute power to uphold and release the result with or without their endorsements.

While reaffirming the unwavering commitment and loyalty of Atiku Abubakar and his entire campaign team to the PDP and its noble objectives, we would like to state that the result of the presidential primary released by the PDP did not reflect the minds of the delegates at the recent Special National Convention. In view of the above, we call on INEC to jettison the result of the said primary and cancel same as having not been conducted in accordance with the provisions of the extant Electoral Act 2010, P.D.P. Constitution 2009, and the P.D.P. Electoral Guidelines for Primary Elections 2010.

Yours faithfully
For: Atiku Campaign Organization
Senator (Dr) Ben Obi