BY Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja, – The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday refused to sign the result sheet of the Presidential election which was announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja.
INEC declared President Muhammadu Buhari of All Progressives Congress (APC) re-elected having won the highest number of votes of 15,191, 847 to defeat his closest rival, Atiku Abubakar of PDP who polled 11,262,978 votes.
Buhari won in 19 states while Atiku won in 17 states and the Federal Capital Territory
The PDP agent, Mr Osita Chidoka, left the hall at the National Collation Centre when the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, asked party agents to come forward to sign the result sheet.
Chidoka, who is a former Minister of Aviation, in an interview with journalists on his way out, said that the party did not accept the election result as representing the valid votes of Nigerians due to three issues it earlier raised.
He said that the party expected that INEC would have projected the result based on what the Smart Card Readers used for accreditation of voters captured.
“The second one is the issue we raised about the number of registered if what the chairman now calls collated voters means that 1.6 million people are missing in the voter register.
“We think that the issue is substantial enough to require a resolution.
“We also believe that difference between the accredited voters and the total votes cast which came to about 750,000 votes, requires an issue to be looked at.
“Finally, we believe that INEC needs to look at the cancellations that took place in the election impacting 2.7 million.
“So, in our view, this election needs to be looked at again and possibly we would have had a re-run.
“More importantly, we think that INEC should have looked consciously to the use of the card reader, the absence of card reader is a major violation in the elections, it renders that election null and void, and that is what the chairman promised us.
“So, for us in the PDP, we believe that this is a new law in Nigeria’s electoral history.’’
Chidoka, however, said that PDP remained a very lawful party, adding: “we believe in the law, we believe in the constitution of Nigeria.
“We are committed democrats. The PDP is a party that entrenched democracy in Nigeria. The PDP is the party that made it possible for Nigeria to enjoy the fruit and dividend of democracy.
“We will continue to support democracy in Nigeria, we will continue to promote democracy in Nigeria but we have a good message for Nigerians.
“We want them to remain peaceful, we will explore all our options, including the belief that the legal process in Nigeria is one of the way to resolve issues.’’
Chidoka had earlier raised concern about the non-usage of card readers for the election in some places and called on INEC to provide the details of number of accredited voters with card readers.
He also expressed concern over the disparity in the number of registered voters for states and urged INEC to restore votes of the party allegedly cancelled in the election.
Yakubu, before the announcement of the result responded that the difference in the valid votes and cancellation were insignificant to impact on the general outcome of the election.
He said that observations raised by the PDP agent would be useful for future elections, including those of 2023.
Yakubu said that while the commission noted that the figures of accredited voters in relation to the vote cast were not adding up in one or two instances, preliminary investigation revealed the disparity cumulatively was actually less than two per cent.
“Secondly, we also very strongly believe that the wide spread incidents of ballot box snatching, particularly in many areas after voting, means that you have data on the smart card reader but not backed up by actual ballot because the ballot was either hijacked, burnt down or destroyed.
“Therefore, the information on the smart card reader is slightly to be higher than the actual ballot, meaning the vote cast but this is only by way of preliminary investigation.
“Yes, we believe that there have been cancellations; however in the case of presidential election the cancellations do not affect the conclusion of the process. ‘’
Yakubu added that disparity in the figure did not also affect the total number of thousands who voted in the election as they were well below the number of Permanent Voter Cards collected.
“The voter turnout for the 2019 general elections from the analysis we just concluded is 35.66 per cent,’’ the chairman said.