Leon Usigbe – Abuja
The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Lagos, Olusegun Agbaje, over allegations of being partisan and compromised.
The call is contained in a statement issued on Wednesday by his Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, which noted the insistence of the REC to make use of the Lagos State Park and Garage Management Committee led by Musiliu Akinsanya, also known as MC Oluomo, a member of the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council.
The statement dismissed Agbaje’s excuse that INEC would not be able to use the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) because they had been barred in Lagos State.
According to the statement, “The law is clear that only a court has the power to proscribe an organisation. That was why the Federal Government had to go to court to proscribe the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN).
“What Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu did in Lagos State was to arbitrarily announce a ban on the activities of the NURTW because the organisation suspended MC Oluomo, the APC’s henchman. INEC must not promote illegality by working with a partisan organisation which is filled with APC members that are working for Bola Tinubu.
“How could such people be given sensitive materials to be distributed across Lagos on election day? This has already undermined the possibility of a free and fair election. INEC must sanction Mr Agbaje for insisting on using MC Oluomo’s committee despite protests from members of the public.”
The Atiku spokesman recalled that Agbaje was the REC who superintended over what he called “the fraudulent 2018 governorship election rerun in Osun State which even the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union discredited”.
The statement further said: “Recall that it was Mr. Agbaje who superintended over the fraudulent and violent Osun governorship rerun which produced Gboyega Oyetola as governor. US Consul General, John Bray was spot on when he stated, ‘We witnessed what appeared to be incidents of interference and intimidation of voters and heard reports of harassment or party monitors, journalists and domestic observers.”
APC to him, even election monitoring groups like the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) dismissed the Osun rerun as “fraudulent and anti-democratic”.
Furthermore, it said: “Unfortunately, it is the same Agbaje, who could not effectively supervise a rerun in a few polling units that has been given the task of superintending the election in Nigeria’s largest state with over seven million registered voters. The election is doomed to fail if INEC doesn’t do the right thing by removing him.
“We remind the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, that this will be his last general election before the end of his tenure. We ask him to protect his legacy by removing Mr Segun Agbaje if he insists that MC Oluomo must be the one to handle sensitive INEC materials. This election must not only be fair but it must be seen to be fair as well.”
The statement pointed out that as of Wednesday morning, over 17,000 Nigerians had signed a petition on Change.Org titled, ‘Remove Olusegun Agbaje as the Lagos INEC Commissioner for Incompetence and Bigotry’.
The statement said Agbaje had also been criticised in the last one week over his comments on the inability of a large number of non-indigenes in Lagos to vote.
The statement observed that while explaining the development on Channels Television, Agbaje stated that people of the southeast migrated to Lagos and engaged in double registration, hence their inability to get their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC).
The statement said: “It is disheartening that the Lagos REC, Mr Segun Agbaje, has begun to show open partisanship. We find it curious that it is the local governments considered as opposition strongholds that were unable to get their PVCs.
“Historians and analysts have described this 2023 general election as a watershed. The destiny of over 200 million people is at stake. INEC says it is ready to deliver a credible and free election but one weak link in the chain of command can undermine the entire process.
“We call on Prof. Mahmood Yakubu to remove the Lagos REC, Mr. Agbaje, as his credibility is seriously in doubt. Again, we call on INEC not to use the MC Oluomo-led partisan organisation to distribute ballot papers on election day,” the statement declared.
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