2023 elections: Jackson Lekan-Ojo, an APC leader, said that INEC had fooled Nigerians with the BVAS

2023 elections: Jackson Lekan-Ojo, an APC leader, said that INEC had fooled Nigerians with the BVASJackson Lekan-Ojo, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and renowned Port Harcourt-based security expert, is not happy with the outcome of the 2023 general elections.

X-raying the conducts of the polls held on February 25 and March 18, he said that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may have finally killed the democratic culture in the country with its disappointing outings at the elections. He also aired his views on the political parties that contested the election, their candidates and what Nigerians should anticipate to come from the judiciary. Excerpt:….. Continue Reading

The 2023 elections is believed to have gulped over N300 billion. Would you say that INEC has been able to give Nigeria the value for the money allocated to it judging by its performance at the just-concluded election?

The 2023 election was a colossal waste of resources. INEC deceived Nigerians with the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS). INEC made us believe that it would be useless for anybody to snatch ballot boxes. It made us believe that immediately you thumbprint and you are captured, the device would capture you and send it to the central server from where INEC would announce the result and nobody would be able to tamper with it. It was based on these assurances by INEC that the legislative arm of the government did not probe deep into the humongous amount the electoral umpire requested for the elections. But at the end of the day, it turned out to be a deceptive, charade and shambolic type of election across the country. There is no value for the money given to INEC for the election. There are people who got percentages from the money. They knew that the system would not work, but they were looking for a device they could anchor the money on so that they would be able to justify the amount demanded. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, needs to probe into how much was really spent on those machines. It was a deceptively concocted system that has brought more anger in the country and threatened the unity of this country more. This is the worst election so far in this country.

What do you make of the electoral reforms that birthed the system which produced the election?

On electoral reform, I would like to appreciate Mr. President. At least with the little knowledge he has, he was able to sign it into law. But I think the people who interpreted the reform to Mr. President knew that it was not going to work. It was a serious conspiracy theory between the National Assembly and some members of the executive arm, Mr. President not inclusive. They knew that INEC was only deceiving Nigerians. They knew that the kind of technology they introduced would not work out. You will recall that the Electoral Act was supposed to come into effect in 2019, but Mr. President said it was too close to the 2019 elections. So, it was not signed and that gave them the opportunity to plan more. Everything we saw and witnessed during the just concluded elections was planned long before now. The first major assignment of the 10th National Assembly is to amend the Electoral Act to have a human face. It is very sad that in 2019 we bought card readers for the election, which gulped billions of naira. Where are the devices now? If we want to get it right in 2027, the BVAS must be phased out. We claim INEC is independent; but is INEC truly independent? No! There is serious interference from the executive, legislative and judiciary. For us to get it right, the next INEC chairman should not be appointed by the government. Let us call stakeholders summit from across the country from the youth, security experts, intellectuals, civil societies, religious and traditional institutions; let them nominate reliable persons; not university lecturers. We can look for retired justices of the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal that are incorruptible and let people voice their opinion on the individuals nominated and reach a consensus on who should head the commission. If something like that does not happen, anybody that is coming in as the next INEC chairman will end up doing the bidding of the government.

For the first time in recent elections in Nigeria we witnessed the emergence of a Third Force giving the two dominant parties a run for their money. What does this suggest about future elections in Nigeria?

The Obidient Movement made a huge mistake. Immediately Obi emerged as the candidate of Labour Party efforts were concentrated on the person of Obi instead of the party on which he was to contest. There is no way you can be a good driver when you don’t have a vehicle. The political party is the vehicle. But the Obidient Movement was more interested in maintaining the driver without maintaining the vehicle. They popularized Obi and neglected the Labour Party. The implication is that by 2027 if Obi is not contesting nobody will remember the Labour Party again. Assuming all the elections were conducted on the same day, Labour Party would have got nothing less than 15 governors. Because as the people were voting for Obi, they would be thumb printing for the governorship candidates and other candidates of the party. But immediately they realised that Obi had been rigged out, the Obidients refused to come out to vote for other Labour Party candidates in the governorship and House of Representatives elections, because the movement was built around an individual instead of an institution, the Labour Party. This is the mistake the Obidients made. So, in 2027 if Obi fails to contest, LP will not win a ward in Nigeria. The support given to Obi at the just concluded election is unprecedented and unbeatable.

How do you think INEC’s performance at the just concluded elections is likely to impact on the Nigerian electorate in future?

During the gubernatorial election, a lot of people sat back at home. Some polling units where no fewer than 200 people voted during the presidential election, recorded only 20 votes during the governorship election. Why? Because of the assurances and promises given by INEC people were motivated to go out and vote because they believed INEC that with BVAS, snatching of ballot boxes would be meaningless. But it dawned on us very late that INEC only fooled us. But when it happened during the presidential election, people became discouraged. There are some polling units where they just wrote results and sent them to INEC; people were killed in some places. So, I can tell you authoritatively that the apathy that will greet future elections in this country will be unprecedented. That will confirm to us the damage INEC has caused with its poor performance at the last election. INEC has succeeded in killing the democratic culture in this country. But if the president-elect succeeds at the tribunal, he should be able to help to rebuild our democratic culture. If he can be bold and ruthless as to right all the wrongs, we should be able to revive the interest of our people in future elections.

Why was voters’ harassment and intimidation so prevalent during the elections despite the massive deployment of security agents?

When you see soldiers, naval or air force personnel snatching ballot boxes for politicians like we saw some policemen did, such military officers are fake. It is only the police that can do that. Why did I say this? They are poorly paid, but that is not a license to be complicit. These are people that believe in supporting whoever can pay them rather than join hands with other suffering Nigerians in enthroning good leadership that will address the challenges confronting the entire nation. The politicians knew the weaknesses of the police and they capitalised on it by paying them and the policemen followed them sheepishly to do their biddings. If the police had played their role as expected, there was no way MC Oluomo would have had the temerity to threaten and intimidate a particular tribe in Lagos during the election. What he succeeded in doing by his action has widened the disunity in the country. Yet the commissioner of police in the state is yet to complete an investigation on that. I can tell you that nothing will come out of this brazen hate speech. What Oluomo did is worse than what any known separatist had done.

Do you think Nigeria has got a judiciary that is bold and courageous to correct the anomalies that dogged the just concluded elections?

Don’t forget that we are still in a country where three different judges gave three conflicting orders and the NJC is not talking to them; we are still in a country where a judge can throw out any case on technical grounds and nobody is going to say anything. So, to me, it is absolutely a waste of time to expect anything from them this time around. There is no judicial independence in Nigeria…. Continue Reading

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The Nigerian Correctional Service destroys things taken from convicts worth N150 million

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