Sixty presidential candidates in the just concluded 2019 elections under the banner of the Joint Forum of Presidential Candidates and National Chairmen have passed a vote of confidence on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over its performance in the 2019 general elections.
The Forum also distanced itself from the ongoing controversy on the INEC server, describing it as "unnecessary" and an attempt to "discredit the electoral process."
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, chairman, Presidential candidates Forum and National chairman of Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (ABDA), Shittu Mohammed said political parties never agreed with INEC in any of the several pre-election meetings that results will be transmitted electronically.
Mohammed described the report of the European Union Election Observation Mission released over a week ago wherein they alleged a lack of transparency in the guidelines of the election as "bewildering."
He said, "Having thoroughly x-rayed the 2019 election, and the unfavourable and hostile environment the election management body operated under, and the extant laws under which the elections were conducted, we have come to the emphatic conclusion that the INEC performed creditably well and we hereby unequivocally reaffirm our confidence in INEC for its performance against all odds in the conduct of the 2019 General Elections."
According to him, there were several innovations introduced by INEC which made the 2019 elections freer, fairer and more credible than what was obtainable in the past elections such as: the simultaneous accreditation and voting; the introduction of assistive innovations for physically challenged voters; and the Continuous Voter Registration which added 14 million new voters to the register
He said the delay in finalizing the electoral legal framework and the eventual withholding of assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill deprived the nation of the much-needed reform of our electoral process which must be anchored on the rule of law.
Speaking on the INEC server controversy, he disclosed that all political parties were informed that electronic transmission would not be deployed in the election.
He said, "INEC informed all political parties in the election following the withholding of assent by the President that it would not deploy the electronic transmission of results since it would not be lawful to do so. We must inform Nigerians now that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was represented in those meetings and we do not know why they are heating up the polity with the server story.
"We reiterate that the INEC server controversy is unnecessary. It is a plot to discredit the election as Parties agreed on a lot of issues with the Commission and those were implemented. It is worrisome that only one political party out of 91 is saying a different thing on the Presidential election while at the same time praising its performance on the other elections, especially Governorship, conducted by the same INEC.
"We are aware that INEC had run pilots on electronic transmission of results. It had informed us that these pilots were deployed in Anambra, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections."
Mohammed said going forward, the forum of national chairmen and presidential candidates would like to urge President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sign the Electoral Act Amendment into law once it is presented to him again by the National Assembly, stressing that the amendment will hugely improve the electoral system and its processes.
"We also demand the immediate setting up of the process that will lead to the sanctioning of all personnel of security agencies who compromised the elections to serve as a deterrent to others and to exhibit that there are consequences for risking the peaceful coexistence of the country and putting the country in danger," he added.