The Labour Party (LP), has described pockets of violence, logistic issues that characterised the Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state as a by-gone that must not be repeated in the March 11 governorship and state’s Houses of Assembly elections in Lagos State and Nigeria in general.
Making this known in press interview in the party’s office in Lagos on Tuesday was the LP’s State Legal Adviser, Barrister Abass Arisekola Ibrahim.
Reviewing the past for the purpose of shaping the preparedness on all parts for the future elections coming soon, the legal practitioner that is Labour Party chieftain in the Centre of Excellence expressed disappointment that, despite Federal High Court judgement perpetually restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission from engaging and/or consummating any MoU with the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s presidential candidate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s associate and party chieftain, Musiliu Akinsanya a.k.a. MC Olu-Omo and his Lagos State Parks and Management Committee of transporters from election materials distribution, the electoral umpire went ahead with him.
Explaining why, the LP’s legal adviser said it was because APC’s MC Olu-Omo, an interested party, was still engaged against the court’s judgement that in many locations in Lagos State, arrival of election materials was delayed and people who had enthusiastically trooped out to freely express their franchise were unable to get accredited until very late in the afternoon and voting into late evening of the day. In VGC for instance, counting of results was not concluded as at 1am in the night.
According to him, it was a deliberate act by the APC cronies allegedly used for logistics and distribution of the election materials. They knew places our party could have more votes and frustrated their resolve to cast votes for our party, hence the delay in arrival of the election materials.
“It must not happen during the governorship and House of Assembly elections coming March 11, 2023 because Lagosians, who voted on February 25, are still resolved and will stand for their rights against such election misconduct,” he said.
Arisekola said, “In the presidential and national assembly elections this past weekend, it was obvious that INEC failed totally on the issue of logistics, it failed to distribute election materials to several polling units as expected. In some areas, election materials got there around 2:00pm, 3:00pm and accreditation did not start in those areas until the evening hours of the day.”
On the causes of those failures he said, “It is either INEC has failed to comply with the order of court as of Friday before the election suggesting that it still went ahead to use the same MC Olu-Omo and his Lagos State Parks and Management Committee to which they have known areas that opposition parties could get enough votes and that they have delayed the election materials from getting to those places intentionally.
“This is so because it is obvious that if INEC wants to do its job appropriately, as argued by myself in open court, there are other logistics agencies that have proven to be neutral, that belongs to no political affiliated individuals such as Uber, Taxify, Bolt that could be engaged. We all know that Lagos is now a hub for logistics companies, we have private owners of dispatch riders and other modes of transportation. GIG and other transport companies are there. INEC could have easily tracked the movements of these election materials and its ad hoc and current staff to handle the issue of logistics and distribute materials to those various polling units so as to achieve a more free, fair, credible and transparent election. However, for reasons only known to the electoral umpire, INEC failed to do that.”
Also the Labour Party’s State Legal Adviser expressed dismay about INEC failure to comply with the sections of the Electoral Act and the Regulation and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections 2022 created by INEC itself in line with the Electoral Act and which he blamed for the controversy that characterized the presidential election results and which he said must not recur in the governorship and House of Assembly elections coming up on March 11th, 2023.
“On this ground we are making plans to approach a court of competent jurisdiction to mandate the INEC to ensure that it engages the services of qualified logistics company for the distribution of election materials within Lagos and a mandamus order directing the INEC to comply with the provisions of Section 148 of the Electoral Act together with the provisions of Regulation 37 and 38 of its Electoral Guidelines that insists that, “INEC shall paste EC60(e) at the polling unit conspicuously and upload the scanned copy of the EC8A” to the INEC results Viewing portal, the IReV, and use BVAS TO upload EC8A which they have failed to do in this circumstance.”
Asked what his party will do in case the candidate that lost presidential election to Labour Party in his Lagos stronghold decides to win the governorship and House of Assembly positions at all cost on March 11, he said, “All we are saying is that Lagosians, who have resolved about the leadership they want, will stand with and protect their votes.”
On how Nigerians will stand with their votes when, despite their resolves, thugs are sent after them at the polling units or threaten them not to come out to vote on election day, the Labour Party chieftain said it is understandable but the people will overcome.
“One, I understand the fears of all Nigerians but what we would continue to tell people is that they come out in their numbers, in their droves, and exercise their franchise to elect the people that they want to be their leaders in Nigeria and to exercise this without fear or favour in selecting the next government in Lagos State.
“Two, the President Buhari administration as it is, people have various complaints about the undue insecurity as it were, undue corruption in his government, undue use of incumbency powers and the European Union election observers and representatives also question that procedure.
“What we anticipate is that Buhari, himself as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, would understand that a legacy is as important as being alive and I would not expect that he wants to leave a legacy that will be flawed with electoral malpractices.
“The problem that might have happened in pocket of places in these presidential and national assembly elections, let us assume that it was not anticipated but now, it has become obvious and we now know that there are some pockets of places that people might have engaged miscreants and people, who are willing to disrupt the system, it behoves on INEC to ensure this will not recur, further excuses will not be tolerated. We saw a bit of this violence and disenfranchisement around Ajah, Ojo, Surulere, Oshodi, Shomolu, and other areas in Lagos State.
“So, all these areas of violence are now known to all of us. We enjoin President Muhammadu Buhari and INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu to ensure that relevant security is provided, particularly in Lagos for the conduct of this March 11 election. This obvious ineptitudeness should not be allowed to go untamed. The military have been very helpful in curbing the violence in some areas in Lagos during the presidential election and I am sure they are now aware of all other locations of violence and they will do everything within their power to improve on their failures in the last presidential election to ensure a free, fair and credible election on March 11 when we will be electing the governor and members of the House of Assembly in Lagos State and across Nigeria,” he said.
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