Being a text of Press Conference Delivered by the National Legal Adviser of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) on Monday, 9th May 2011 to herald the party’s filing of its petition before the Presidential Election Tribunal Sitting in Abuja.
Good Afternoon, Gentlemen of the Press: As some of you may be aware, our great party, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), filed its petition before the Presidential Elections Tribunal sitting at the Federal Court of Appeal Abuja, challenging the results of the Presidential elections as announced by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega. The election petition was filed yesterday, being the 9th day of April, 2011 and this Press Conference is called to explain the import of CPC’s action.
But first, let us again on behalf of all members and sympathizers of our great party, extend our heart-felt sympathy and condolences to the families of those who lost their lives or property as a result of the violence that occasioned the elections. This includes all those affected before, during and after the polls.
We would like to seize this opportunity to reiterate that our party is composed of responsible and discipline members who do not in any way subscribe to the perpetration of any evil much less of encouraging any.
Our national history has however taught us that the determination to win
elections by incumbents by any means has always given birth to spontaneous
reactions in the form of break down of law and order.
We recall the anger of the people of the Western Region in 1965 and the people of Ondo state in 1983 against the use of federal might to dislodge opposition governments in the South west in favour of the ruling parties at the federal level with concocted results. The people spontaneously rose against these barbaric actions of the government. Police stations and houses of prominent NNA and NPN supporters were burnt and many people killed. In the case of Ondo state, the judicial decision that ceded Ondo back to the UPN came within the context of citizens’ determined effort to protect their votes. We are all living witnesses that the nation’s democracy suffered irreparably as a result.
To us in the CPC, it is our belief that the break down of law and order that ensued after the declaration of President Goodluck Jonathan as the
President-elect on the basis of concocted results was the bye product of the determination to win elections by incumbents by any means which has always characterized such actions by historical antecedence.
It is our contention that the declaration of false results assembled in places other than the polling Unit in the instant Presidential Election is another reminder that the political class ruling and ruining Nigeria is not ready to allow electoral reform work. Let us be reminded that already, this present PDP federal Government has rejected the recommendation from the Electoral Reform Committee it set up that the new Independent National Electoral Committee should be appointed through an independent process anchored in the National Judicial Council.
The Justice Uwais Committee had recommended that to transform INEC from a
partisan, pro-president-of-the-day lackey to a professional and independent
body, the President should lose the prerogative of appointing the Chairperson, National Commissioners and Resident State Electoral Commissioners of the Commission. The National Judicial Council was to take over that responsibility with citizens as nominations are to be made and considered by the public. But without any cogent justification at all, the government rejected it. In fact, at the end of the day, the entire process of the electoral reform was jettisoned by the same government. What the nation ended up with is the unilateral appointment of an INEC Chairman whose integrity was eulogized more on his past views than actions. I am sure patriotic Nigerians will agree with us that the final processes and outcome of the 2011 general elections are nothing any near to what our campaigns for true Electoral Reforms expected in enthroning for Nigeria
free, fair and credible elections.
We cannot therefore sit by and allow these electoral misdemeanours wreaking the very foundation of our country’s stability, prosperity and unity to continue unchecked forever. Since independence, the major political problem of our country has been that of elections. Transiting from one government to the other through the ballot box had always been the most difficult aspect of the nation’s democratic experiment. In fact, on the two occasions the military took over the reins of power from civilian regimes, in 1966 and 1983, election malpractices were sighted as justification. Yet, till date, we do not seem to have learned our lessons. With every election, including the last Presidential Election, the electorates continue to lose confidence in the ability of the ballot box to express their will. This is a dangerous trend that must not be allowed to continue, lest we find our country sleepwalking into a disaster that we may not come out of.
Please permit me to use the President’s own Polling Unit to illustrate the level of electoral fraud perpetrated in the election as we saw it. Osazi Playground Polling Unit has a total number of 908 registered voters. On the 16th of April election, only 424 voters turned out to cast their votes, with 413 voting for the President while 11 ballots were invalidated. This represents a total of 47% voter turnout in that unit. However, for the rest of Bayelsa state, the total voters’ turnout as recorded by INEC was 87% with a total of 96% voting the President. One would have expected that if there was going to be a massive voter turnout, no other place would have surpassed the President’s own unit. Because this unit comprises his close and distant relatives – his parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, cousins, nephews, childhood friends, etc. But surprisingly, not half of these came out to vote their own, yet the rest of Bayelsa and the South-south turned out over 90% to vote “their son”. The truth is that the President did not want anything to cause problem in his ballot box
which would have embarrassed him politically. So that box was guarded against any malpractice and so what came out of the box was actually what transpired; but the rest of Bayelsa and others can do as they pleased. This is electoral fraud personified!
As lessons of history has taught us, in the life of a society or nation, there will come a time when a group of people must have to stand up and point out when the leadership is destroying the nation; explain why things are going wrongly; demonstrate how things can be done rightly; and work towards making a clear difference. The time is now and the people are you and us! It is for this reason that we in the CPC have decided to challenge these alleged concocted results of the Presidential Elections at the Tribunal.
Because of our experience in the processes of election cases in tribunals, we have learned that election petitions for the most part in the past failed to gain ground in our tribunals mainly because of paucity of evidence to proof cases. This, therefore, left us with no other option than to seek scientific ways, means and methods as the best and most effective platform to proof our case; hence our adoption and employment of Forensic/Biometric system of evidence.
The fact that there are no two people with the same fingerprint, every
fingerprint can therefore be scientifically verified basically through the
following preliminary basics of the technical Biometrics/Forensics methods which details will be made available by the experts:-
1. Since during the Voter-registration exercise, all the ten fingerprints of all voters were captured and stored in INEC’s Standard Data Bank, it is certain that every voter must have used a finger to vote in the election. This then makes it possible to authenticate and verify every print on every ballot. This is the importance and central reason for this novel registration exercise. This case will therefore depend mainly on the authentication and verification of the fingerprints on the disputed ballot papers cast;
2. An electromechanical optical scan device with automatic tabulation called a “mark-sensing” system will be used; in this case the mark is the fingerprint;
3. We expect INEC to produce the Ballot Papers voted upon with the fingerprint organized on the basis of their Polling Units, Wards, Local Govt. Area and State and delivered for processing. These will be processed on Polling Unit basis, which means that the scanners will take an image of each ballot paper, store the image in the appropriate location corresponding to its Polling Unit, Wards, LGA and State;
4. When all images of ballot papers for a Polling Unit are taken, a processing program containing the agreed upon sorting parameters will read the party name which has a fingerprint, then extract the fingerprint and store;
5. The following processes is then expected to take place within the records of each Polling Unit:-
a. Compare all fingerprints with each other to detect all repetitive
b. Count all repetitive fingerprints.
c. Deduct the repeated fingerprints from the count for that Polling Unit.
d. Present a table of results showing non-repeated and repeated votes.
e. Compare all fingerprints processed with the already registered and stored fingerprints of that Unit for any discrepancy, and
f. Count the total number of discrepancy, if any.
6. This process will be repeated for each Polling Unit.
Permit me to say that there are 2 key factors which will affect the time within which this work will be completed and they are:
a. The speed at which our legal team completes the process in the Tribunal
leading to the order of the release of the source data and documents (Voter
registration records, Stored fingerprints, Ballot Papers,etc.) by INEC.
b. The physical condition of the ballot papers. The condition in which the
ballot papers are received will determine if they need preparation or they will go straight into the scanners. On this second score, we urge INEC and we will plead to the Tribunal to order the Commission to guarantee the safety and good condition of all the elections materials. In fact, we will prefer the materials to be safe-kept in the vaults of the Central Bank.
On the technical aspect of the process, we can confidently say that with the level of modern day technology, it won’t take long to conclude this procedure and establish the truth of the election. At the most, we can estimate between 50
– 65 days to be able to get all voters register authenticated, all disputed
ballot papers examined, any other electoral document assessed, all findings
compiled and submitted to the court, and return of all source data and documents to INEC. Our firm has participated in 300 electoral processes in 19 countries with more than 500 million voters tallied for government, private and multilateral organizations.
To the CPC, this use of Forensic/Biometric system based on INEC’s capturing of all the 10 fingers of every voter is a novel idea that can help solve forever the challenges of multiple voting and outright concoction of results; two critical issues in our electoral malpractices. Our present case in the tribunal is thus aimed at establishing the truth and preventing future elections malpractices in our country’s democratic experiment.
On this score, therefore, we call on each and every Nigerian to be supportive of our action; because this is NOT a case of trying to get for General Mohammadu Buhari the presidency of Nigeria, nor is it a case to deny same to President Goodluck Jonathan. Neither is it a case of fighting over the leadership of the country (as far as we are concerned whosoever is the leader does not matter so long as the processes creating the leadership is genuine). Rather this case, as we already said, is about establishing and ascertaining the truth for the country. It is on record that the nation expended at least N108 billion to conduct the elections. It is therefore worthwhile to establish the truth of the elections.
To this end, this is a case for the nation and should completely transcend party affiliation and regional considerations. The case should be taken by all Nigerians in the spirit of no victor no vanquished as propagated by the
President and as a responsive search for the truth for our country. Nigerians from all walks of life must not only be united but also must be seen united in establishing for our country this basic truth on an issue that has plagued and wrecked incalculable damage to our unity and development since independence. We, as Nigerians, must build a national consensus on this noble intention.
If at the end of this case, the truth is undeniably established and it is found out that the allegations of the said electoral frauds were true, then the blame of the post-elections violence should be squarely put on the perpetrators of the fraud – for they are the real cause of the violence, which will then be the natural principle of cause and effect. And if it is established that the PDP got its votes as announced authentically, then our Presidential Candidate will lead us to the Villa to formally congratulate the President and his deputy to the advancement of democracy, unity and stability of Nigeria. Truth is, however, sacrosanct and it must be allowed to prevail.
Thank you for your kind attention.
ABUBAKAR MALAMI, SAN.
National Legal Adviser