Independent National Election Commission, INEC, has released a damning
election assessment report of the 2019 election, accusing the All
Progressive Congress, APC, of deliberately creating hurdles to benefit it
electoral fortunes and retain power at the center.
The Observer group noted specifically that the President Muhammadu
Buhari-led administration, in both the Judiciary and INEC matters,
violated the constitution of Nigeria, which guarantees their independence
From its findings, the group posited that while the electorate prepared
for elections, it was as though the incumbent was “preparing a military
In a statement signed by Mr. Emmanuel Ogebe and obtained by THISDAY at the
weekend, the Group said it observed conscious efforts to compromise the
elections and raised early warnings as well as concerns, which have now
been validated and proven by the resulting self-sabotaged elections.
For example, it noted that INEC announced inconclusive elections in 6
states out of which PDP was reportedly leading in all but one.
“This is highly suggestive and unsettling all by itself. However, there
are further indications that similar results in states in which the APC
was leading were not declared inconclusive. Some states where a rerun was
illogical, because the mathematical probabilities could not conceivably
produce a different outcome have still been scheduled for rerun.
“The principle on cancelled votes versus margin of victory, which
ostensibly informed the inconclusive declarations in state elections, was
not uniformly applied in the presidential elections. So far the following
states have been declared inconclusive – the most ever in Nigerian history
– Benue, Plateau, Adamawa, Sokoto, Kano and Bauchi states.
“It is especially noteworthy that in the case of Kano State, the PDP was
overwhelming leading when the Deputy Governor seized and tore the results
of the last Local Government to be declared. This brazen act of brigandage
was caught on video and is perhaps emblematic of how the election results
overall have been hijacked.”
On the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections
from February 16 to 23, the group said its investigations and analysis
indicated that the action was orchestrated by the ruling party based on
its dissatisfaction with judiciary pronouncements on cases affecting its
According to the election observer group, the Buhari regime had shown
unambiguously its displeasure with both the Judiciary and INEC for not
delivering its preferred outcomes.
It further held that there was a clear pattern of desperation,
constitutional violation and fabrication in the actions of the regime
towards both key institutions that have a critical role in the elections.
Thus, in this post-election report, the group detailed various instances
in which it said the incumbent president had shown intent and discernible
actions to undermine the elections.
While enumerating several shortcomings of the 2019 election, the USNLG
expressed grave concern at the brazen militarisation of the elections.
It added that in furtherance of its partisan agenda in both the Judiciary
and INEC, the President Buhari-led APC administration fabricated a faux
court ruling on the basis of which it justified its unconstitutional acts.
For instance, the USNLG report noted that: “The Buhari regime acting
ostensibly on a private petition interfered with both the Judiciary and
INEC regarding the removal of CJN and election postponement respectively.”
It said the President’s refusal to sign the electoral reforms into law
showed clearly “the mens rea or criminal intent by the president not to
allow the conduct of credible elections from the word go.
“Indeed, the president is on record for having said following the passage
of the ‘not-too-young to run’ law, that it should be only after his
re-election. This Freudian slip cements the notion that he nixed the
electoral reforms for the same self-perpetuation.
“For these and other reasons, it is transparently clear that the Buhari
regime had motive, opportunity, mens rea and actus reus (criminal intent
and culpable acts) and declared intent and discernible actions to
undermine the elections. In this respect, they were successful in
premeditated failure,” it said.
The election observer group therefore said it decided to share its report
for the benefit of the electorate and the international community for the
sake of global democracy.
With regards to the issue of malpractices and activities of compromised
poll officials, the observer group said it has firsthand report of what
transpired in Benue State, for instance, on the eve of the rescheduled
presidential and National Assembly polls of February 16.
“We gathered that out of a list of about 500 names submitted by a federal
institution to INEC as poll officials, a ruling party Senator selected
those whom he deemed he could ‘work with’. In addition, the APC Senator
doled out millions of naira, which was distributed to the INEC-trained
poll officials at a location in Makurdi, the Benue State Capital. The
temporary poll officials were called by phone to come and collect the
serving Senator’s cash in person from the said location.”
It also said that before the governorship election of March 9, a
university professor was apprehended with election materials in Benue
State and his vehicle burnt by irate voters, thus reiterating the fact
that it witnessed firsthand, the distribution of cash from the back of a
vehicle to political operatives for unknown purposes and particularly
stunned that the party functionaries were escorted by police.
The USNLG report stated that operatives of the Economic and Financial
Crimes Commission (EFCC) apprehended a vehicle loaded with currency in the
trunk of a vehicle of a politician linked to the APC in February.
While expressing its concern over President Buhari’s actions and inactions
before, during and after the elections, the observer group said it was
deeply concerned at the president’s remarks that electoral malpractice
would attract summary execution.
“We are gravely concerned at the brazen militarisation of these elections.
Buhari has gone beyond militarisation to martialisation of the election
process. We are more concerned at remarks attributed to the Chief of Army
Staff that, ‘If Commander-in-Chief has given order to the Nigerian Army to
that effect, rest assured that order will be totally and effectively
obeyed without any ifs or buts.”
Specifically, the election observer group lamented the military invasion
of Rivers State and described it as troublesome.
“The military invasion and rampage in Rivers State is troublesome on
several levels not the least of which is: The ruling party APC was not
even a candidate in the elections yet the government interfered with
military might to rig in the most ignoble and egregious way ever.
“The wicked, oppressive and violent attacks on innocent civilians and
their homes and property in the formerly restive Niger Delta just for
elections, has the real propensity for re-igniting another armed
insurrection in the region.
“It is clear that the overarching objective of the coercive force is not
to install APC, which has no candidate but to uninstall PDP. Rivers State
has been the key rallying point and resource base for the opposition and
the military mission is to completely gut their capacity by stripping them
of power in Rivers State.”
The group noted that the military denial of involvement was not credible
in the least.
“It should be pointed out that electoral law places security under INEC
and not INEC under security. The army has denied that its personnel are
the ones featured with arms in uniform perpetrating these atrocities. This
response is neither credible nor helpful as it implies there are fake
soldiers on rampage and the real army is helpless to protect the citizenry
Despite the pronouncements by the authorities on security readiness, the
observer group noted that between the two elections, over 200 people were
slaughtered in non-voting massacres in Benue, Zamfara and Kaduna states.
It said it was particularly disheartening that military forces were
mobilised to opposition states for the elections in numbers unseen in
insecurity-plagued states showing a total lack of prioritisation and
callous insensitivity to human lives.
On the Security deployments to Rivers State during the election, the group
said the scenario resembled a war zone.
It maintained that it was in possession of a bizarre video showing an INEC
official admitting that their office was besieged by the military and
results of election officers confiscated, thereby preventing them from
collating the election result.
In addition, the group said: “Viral video footage showed soldiers overrun
the home of the state Education Commissioner as well as charging through
his kitchen chasing after female residents with guns drawn.
“Other videos show courageous women chanting and keeping soldiers from
breaking in and stealing election results. Yet another video shows
protesters singing Christian choruses, when the military opened fire on
the harmless crowd, injuring several. In another, the military went to
arrest a former militant but were prevented by members of his community,”
the group stated.
In further confirmation of its position that officials of the ruling party
conivived to interfere in conduct of the election, the group said the
Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami had written to INEC
advising it to comply with the judgment of the Court of Appeal by
admitting the result of the APC Zamfara state primaries and also comply
with the provisions of section 38 of the Electoral Act which empowers INEC
to postpone the election for the governorship, National and State Houses
of Assembly election. It said that the AGF actually admitted in writing
that the APC needs “a little time to catch up.”
Such an ” illicit motive could not be clearer nor more dubious – to score
an advantage for a political party”, it said. According to the group, INEC
postponed the elections of February 16th and March 2nd after the Attorney
General requested it whether or not the commission admits that. USNLG said
that in further validation of its stand that the election postponement was
contrived for the benefit of the incumbent party, INEC also allowed the
APC in Zamfara State to field candidates in the rescheduled elections just
like the AG illegally and fraudulently requested.
Also the observer group said that just as was being feared, the death
threats to members of the international community by the Kaduna state
governor, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai was followed by restrictions on
international observers by the military who prevented them from monitoring
elections in Rivers State.
“The restraint of international observers is not only proof of the
government’s grand design to brazenly rig the elections but also that
resistance would have resulted in their return in “bodyguards” as earlier