President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday met with a delegation of the National Peace Committee (NPC) led by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar on the dust raised by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate in last week’s election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
The delegation delivered to the president the issues raised by Atiku at the committee’s Thursday meeting with him.
But contrary to some speculations, PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus said the party had no deal with the peace committee to halt its planned legal action on the presidential election.
“We will go to court. Nobody will stop us from going to court and bring out all of the facts both the international observers and some people have not seen,” Secondus told reporters in Abuja.
Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting with Buhari, Abdulsalami said he was pleased to hear that the PDP had decided to approach the court to seek redress instead of resorting to violence.
”As much as we have grievances, l am glad that the PDP say they are going to court to challenge the process, l think this is the right way to go about it, and l hope and pray that we will maintain this,” he said.
The former Head of State also confirmed that members of the committee had met with the presidential candidate of the PDP who raised concerns over the conduct and outcome of the presidential election as well as the forthcoming elections.
He, however explained that what the former Vice President raised were concerns and not conditions as being speculated in some section of the media.
He said “The Presidential election result has raised a lot of dust and the people feel aggrieved. Yesterday (Thursday).I met the PDP Presidential candidate and his party.
“Atiku presented his grievances and his observations, he did not present any conditions, he gave his complaints, which we have come to present and discuss with Mr. President to see what can be done.
“And in other to listen to their grievances and what they think has gone wrong and we are here today to see his Excellency the President in other to relay the fears and concerns of the PDP and Mr. President.
“He listened to us and has taken note of what we have told him.
“Nigerians should please on behalf of this country and all of us, regardless, we need peace. This country is very, very important to all of us. We are not talking about self-interest, we are talking about the interest of the country.
“I keep saying, whenever there is violence, we are not going to see violence in Ikoyi, in the Villa and you will not find violence in the various government houses in this country. It is always the poor man that get to kill themselves and so on,” he added.
Other members of the committee at the meeting with the president were the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Mathew Hassan Kukah, His Grace, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Catholic Bishop of Abuja Archdiocese.
What Atiku told peace committee
The Atiku Campaign Organization said that PDP flag bearer ,at the meeting,complained that the presential election was “marked by militarization of the process, vote suppression, intimidation, and collaboration of security agencies, INEC and the ruling party to subvert the will of Nigerians.”
It said Atiku called for the unconditional release of all those illegally arrested and detained for political reasons,and expressed opposition to the deployment of the military during next week’s elections “in compliance with constitutional provisions and the subsisting judgement of the court.”
It added: “The issue of Atiku Abubakar and his party’s recourse to legitimate actions to reclaim his stolen mandate was not discussed at the meeting.
“Atiku Abubakar restates that as a democrat, he will follow laid down constitutional and democratic procedures to challenge the electoral malfeasance committed by APC in cohort with INEC.
“Atiku Abubakar further urges Nigerians to come out en masse and vote in the 9 March gubernatorial and state house of assembly elections for the PDP candidates and stay to defend their votes up to collation point.”
Secondus: ‘No deal with National Peace Committee to halt legal action’
At a separate press conference yesterday in Abuja,the national chairman of the PDP,Prince Uche Secondus dismissed suggestions that the party had reached a deal with the Abdulsalami committee to call off its planned legal action on the presidential election.
He said: “When they came, they met with us and they requested us to please state our grievances. There was no condition.
“Initially, we were not to talk with them because a decision had been taken to go to court. But because of the personalities involved, we said ok, let’s just talk.
“There were no conditions and there was no request of any condition. We made it clear that unless the injustices are addressed, there is no room for peace. It is only when you address the injustice that you can now sit down for peace.
“So, whatever interpretation that was done by anybody, let it be clear to everybody that we did not give conditions, they did not request for conditions.
“It was like, look, state what really happened in the election and we told them how the military took over the election and conducted the election in favour of the APC with INEC collusion.”
The party chair deplored what he described as voters suppression in states considered the strongholds of the PDP, alleging that soldiers were deployed to harass, intimidate and arrest voters and party supporters in such states,
He listed Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, and Cross Rivers as the worst affected states in the alleged military siege, adding that the threat by the Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State n during the election.
Secondus said: “ at the last count, over 50 Nigerians lost their lives last Saturday, most of them from the South South region where a division of the army with their commander were turned on the people on the election day.”
The party chair queried the higher voter turnout in insurgency ravaged states like Borno and Yobe above the 2015 figures, whereas, states like Rivers and others in the South south zone recorded lower voter turnout in the last election than they did in 2015.
He said: “the clear effect of militarizing the election, particularly in the South South and South East in addition to the killing of innocent electorate, was the obvious suppression of voters who were either scared out or chased away.
“Even by INEC own record, voter turnout in last Saturday’s election fell to about 36 percent from 44 percent that it was in 2015. The military were dragged into the election to suppress and scare away voters and facilitate rigging.
“That is how you hear ridiculously that war torn Borno and Yobe states recorded higher percentage in voter turnout than some states in the South South geo- political zone.
“They have again started mobilizing to use the same military to forcefully take over for APC two PDP states in the South South and one state in the South East.
“Credible intelligence available to the party showed that the ruling party’s main link in INEC met with the APC leadership as well as the military to review the planned strategy to take over these states.
“While the military was suppressing voters in PDP strong hold areas in the South, a different abracadabra was going on in some northern states, particularly in Kano, Yobe, Borno and Zamfara where numbers refuse to add up.
“In Borno, Yobe and Zamfara states, confirmed reports showed that there was non compliance in the use of Smart Card Readers as approved by INEC rules. The backend Report from the card readers for the various local government areas in these states.
“In these states as in others, the data is inconsistent with the accreditation of registered voters in the local government areas and voting patterns witnessed in 2015.