Presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, has asked the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mamoud Yakubu, to reverse the recent deployment of Mrs. Amina Zakari, one of its commissioners.
It will be recalled that Zakari, who is well known as President Muhammadu Buhari’s relation, was on Thursday announced as the chairperson of INEC’s Results Collation Centre in the February 2019 elections.
Reacting to her appointment, Ezekwesili, in a press statement on Saturday, said, “The INEC chairman appears to have bowed to pressure from the Presidency.”
She described Zakari’s appointment as political corruption, “considering that having a relation of the President who is a contestant in the February 2019 presidential election amounts to an apparent Conflict-of-Interest situation.”
She said that such “repugnant deployment of Zakari to the collation centres suggests a brazen attempt to ease rigging for the APC’s candidate in the elections.”
To ensure peace and give all the candidates a level playing ground, the ACPN presidential candidate asked the INEC to restore confidence in the management of the collation process by reversing the appointment of Zakari as chairperson.
“Zakari can be assigned another task farther away from tasks that can hinder electoral integrity,” Ezekwesili added.
Her statement read, “The INEC chairman has obviously bowed to President Buhari’s visible and increasingly brazen determination to not just rig but to steal the 2019 presidential election and throw the country into crisis. Or how else can one describe this repugnant action of placing the President’s niece, Amina Zakari, at the head of the centre for collation of election results?
“The President and INEC chairman should know that this extremely repugnant and provocative act of political corruption that seeks to undermine our democracy and destabilise the country shall be resisted by all patriotic Nigerians.
“I caution the INEC chairman and the Presidency to reverse this shameful posting immediately and safeguard the integrity of the 2019 elections. “
Ezekwesili said that the latest development compounded doubts about the President’s interest in presiding over a credible 2019 elections when he refused to assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill 2018.
She said, “Worse still, under President Buhari, the public has been alarmed at the gross misuse of security establishments to compromise elections in places like Osun and Ekiti states. Any attempt to repeat such abuse of state institutions in the 2019 elections for the benefit of the ruling APC must be averted to avoid throwing the country into political crisis.
“The President should lead a discussion among candidates and parties to set the rules that will guide the security forces in the 2019 elections. Ideally, the military and police establishments should be pulled out of the involvement in our elections, considering the damning evidences of how their personnel disenfranchised voters in Osun and Ekiti governorship elections.
“I call on the international community to join the Nigerian people and prevail on President Buhari to practise the Peace Accord, with exemplary actions, in order to build confidence in the process he ebulliently led.”
“The President has remained adamant in his refusal to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill 2018 into law so as to build the confidence of all contestants and Nigerians in the conduct of the 2019 elections. The truth is that signing of the electoral bill into an Act is crucial for peaceful conduct of the election.”
Ezekwesili added, “Nigerians want a new direction and the President must avoid actions that suggest he wishes to suppress the aspirations of the people in the 2019 elections. Any action of the President that aims at giving him an advantage in the February elections amounts to political corruption since he is using his political power for personal gain as a candidate.”