Leading Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has joined the growing ranks of Nigerians criticising the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), for failing to follow proper procedure in the conduct of the February 25 presidential elections. They all fault he electoral body for going against the guidelines it set and promoted ahead of the elections.
The observations come as Labour Party (LP) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have vowed to challenge the results, alleging that the electoral body was compromised by the ruling party to give victory to its presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
According to the parties, INEC violated the new electoral law by failing to uploaded results before collation. The parties stated their positions at different sittings in Abuja on Wednesday. The PDP described Tinubu’s victory as “a grave injustice which will not stand.”
Senator Dino Melaye, spokesman and Director Public Affairs of the PDP Presidential Campaign Committee, in a terse statement on Wednesday evening, said there will be no going back on the battle to retrieve the mandate which he called a “stolen one.” He added; “This grave injustice shall not stand. The battle to retrieve our stolen mandate is a battle of no retreat, no surrender. We shall overcome”.
LP presidential candidate, Peter Obi has equally said he would contest Tinubu’s victory through legal and peaceful means.
He made the declaration in Abuja on Wednesday at a press conference addressed by his running mate, Senator Datti Baba-Ahmed.
“On behalf of our presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi, I address you all and indeed all Nigerians on the current situation in the country following the announcement of the purported result of the presidential election held on Saturday, February 25th 2023.
“Please be assured of our determination to fight the injustice that has been perpetrated on Nigerians through all legal and peaceful means. It is our position that the purported result did not meet the minimum criteria of a transparent, free and fair election,” Baba-Ahmed said.
Reacting to the controversy, Gumi in a statement on Thursday posted in his official Facebook page, asked the aggrieved parties to seek redress in court.
He, however, warned against violent protest, citing the country’s challenges and the fact that the polity is tensed up already.
The statement reads, “I implore the opposition parties as an obligatory national duty to go to the election tribunal and up to the Supreme Court to reestablish the supremacy of law and to teach our younger generation the value of resolving disputes through legal means rather than violence.
“The polity is already very tense, and any government that lacks credibility cannot suppress the people, especially at this troubling time when every region has armed agitating groups that are willing to exploit political instability to augment their rebellion.
“Let the entire litigation process run its course. It has a great deal of importance for our national health.
“The INEC has failed the nation by sowing more distrust and suspicion because it failed to follow its own guidelines in conducting last week’s elections.
“Fortunately, that is the first step in seeking legitimacy; therefore aggrieved parties should go to court.
“We sincerely hope the courts of law this time will also prove its worth and uphold the truth. It’s the last hope that Nigerians can resort to, otherwise, it will lead to chaos that no other force can contain as the nation is already polarized along religious and tribal fault lines.
“Nigeria is our only country; we have to save it from calamity by acting bravely, honestly free from political hypocrisy that requires putting thorny issues under the rug.
“May Allah protect us from all tribulations and give this nation peace and tranquility. Amin”.