Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of working for the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The commission’s spokesman, Festus Okoye, had in a statement admitted to awarding a sensitive contract to the Binani Printing Press Limited, a firm which has now been revealed to be owned by APC governorship candidate in Adamawa State, Senator Aishatu Binani.
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Okoye claimed that the company was awarded the contract as a way of stimulating the economy and encouraging Nigerian enterprise and that a preliminary search at the Corporate Affairs Commission did not immediately show that Senator Binani was a director.
Responding in a statement, however, Atiku’s Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu said INEC’s excuse was watery and unconvincing.
The former Vice President said it was unfortunate that despite being given an allocation of over N300bn as well as financial assistance from foreign governments including the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom, the leadership of INEC had continued to run the commission without scruples.
He said, “INEC’s latest statement cannot even fool a primary school student. An ordinary search on CAC’s portal by youths on Twitter has already revealed that Senator Binani owns Binani Printing Press Limited, a firm that was given a contract to print sensitive INEC material. The company with RC 310024, which was registered on March 13, 1997, has Senator Aishatu Ahmed listed as number one.
“It is obvious that Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has no plan of leaving a legacy of free and fair elections. With barely a year left in his tenure, his performance as INEC chairman will become a byword for failure. This is a man who has received the highest financial allocation ever and yet cannot still run the agency effectively and deliver a credible election.
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“It is funny that INEC claims it awarded the contract to Binani’s company in order to stimulate the local economy. One wonders whether it is the duty of INEC to stimulate the economy or conduct credible elections.”
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Atiku noted that this would not be the first time that INEC would be awarding sensitive contracts to APC chieftains.
He recalled that ahead of the 2019 poll, INEC under the leadership of Yakubu also awarded a contract for the printing of Permanent Voters’ Cards to Mohammed Sani Musa who in the same year was contesting for the Niger East senatorial election.
He added, “Recall that in the run-up to the 2019 Presidential election, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu admitted that the commission indeed awarded a contract to Act Technologies Limited to print Permanent Voters’ Cards.
“Act Technologies, whose Managing Director, Mohammed Sani Musa, was APC candidate for Niger East senatorial district at the time, went on to win that election.”
Atiku noted that Senator Musa was arrested by the Department of State Services briefly before the 2015 elections following allegations by the spokesman for the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation.
“Despite all these complaints, INEC still insisted on awarding him a contract,” Shaibu said.
Atiku also noted that despite complaints from several political parties, INEC under the leadership of Prof. Yakubu also insisted on using the transport services of Musiliu Akinsanya, aka MC Oluomo, to transport ballot papers across Lagos State on the day of election.
He said, “Elections are not just supposed to be free and fair. They are expected to be free and fair. The process and credibility of an election are more important than its result. Prof. Yakubu has obviously failed Nigerians despite receiving so much money to run INEC.
“This latest excuse by INEC for awarding a contract to an APC candidate holds no water and is the height of the commission’s irresponsibility and incompetence.”