Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, and the National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, have shown video clips of alleged rigging of the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections in the country to members of the National Peace Committee headed by a former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd.).
Among those who watched the clips with the former head of state were Cardinal John Onaiyekan and Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.
PDP members who were at the meeting, which held at the Asokoro, Abuja residence of the former vice-president, included the PDP vice-presidential candidate, Peter Obi; President of the Senate, who is also the Director-General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Bukola Saraki; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
It was gathered that Abdulsalami had been trying to meet with Atiku and his team since the announcement of the election results by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, in Abuja in the early hours of Wednesday.
Announcing the results, Yakubu had said that the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, President Muhammadu Buhari, won with 15,191,847 votes as against 11,262,978 polled by Atiku of the PDP.
The former vice-president and his party had rejected the results and said they would seek redress in court.
At the meeting with the Abdulsalami-led committee on Thursday night, investigations by one of our correspondents showed that Secondus narrated to the NPC members how the members of the PDP were allegedly molested and denied the opportunity to cast their votes in many states.
It was also gathered that Abdulsalami and members of his committee were shown video clips of how soldiers allegedly brutalised PDP members in some states and the sacking of some polling units by thugs suspected to be loyal to the ruling party without the security agents who were present taking any action.
The video clips were said to have been watched by other NPC members in attendance.
A source, who was at the meeting said, “At a point during the meeting, we decided to show video clips of how soldiers helped the APC to rig the elections in some states. We also showed them how security agents looked the other way when thugs invaded polling and coalition centres in some states.
“We asked the retired General whether that was how he used the military to conduct the 1999 elections. But instead of replying, he laughed and laughed. I think he was trying to tell us that he is a different person or something like that.
“We told him how the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, did not pretend during his transition period that he wanted to be the sole candidate of all the five registered political parties then. We now said that President Buhari ought to have told Nigerians that he wanted to be the sole candidate so that we would have known how to address the matter from the outset, instead of using the military to achieve what he could not have achieved by claiming to be the sole candidate.”
It was also learnt that Obi, who is a former governor of Anambra State, said he had to leave his home in his state on the eve of the election because of the activities of security men who allegedly terrorised his area.
It was gathered that Atiku told the NPC members that he was surprised that they did not do anything despite all the issues raised by his party after he joined President Buhari to sign the peace agreement.
He was said to have claimed that the country was already divided and that he regretted signing the peace agreement because of the events that unfolded after.
“At a time, the Waziri (Atiku) became emotional. He said he regretted signing the Peace Agreement because members of the committee did not attend to complaints by the PDP after its signing and before the conduct of the elections,” another source added.
Osinbajo justifies APC’s victory
But at the meeting the Abdulsalami-led committee had with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), also on Thursday night, the committee members were told that the APC did not rig the elections.
It was gathered that Osinbajo, a professor of law and an ordained pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, said the ruling party’s victory was not a fluke.
Sources at the meeting said the vice-president analysed the voting pattern and concluded that there was no way the PDP would have won the elections as being claimed by members of the main opposition party.
The source said, “The Vice President told us how the APC deserved the victory it got and how President Buhari had transformed the economy and worked on the security architecture of the country. He spoke on how the Federal Government had used the military to restore peace to the North-East.
“He said the APC got the huge number of votes it got from the North-East because the voters wanted to show gratitude to the President and his team. He also explained how the President had usually got huge number of votes from both the North-East and North-West even when he was a member of a small political party that did not have any structure.”
At the end of the meeting, our correspondent learnt that Cardinal Onaiyekan told the vice-president that the President must pursue reconciliation and that it would not be good to have a divided country.
“The Cardinal told him (Osinbajo) that the Federal Government must listen to the people, pursue reconciliation,” the source added.
Meanwhile, Atiku said that his decision to resort to legal means to claim his alleged stolen mandate was not discussed at his meeting with the Abdulsalami committee.
A statement issued by his media aide, Paul Ibe, said the former vice president had also called on Nigerians to vote for the PDP on Saturday.
He said, “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 the APC in cahoots with the INEC.
“Atiku Abubakar further urges Nigerians to come out en masse and vote in the March 9 gubernatorial and state Houses of Assembly elections for the PDP candidates and stay to defend their votes up to collation point.”
We’ve presented Atiku’s grievances to Buhari –Abdusalami
Meanwhile, the Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd)-led National Peace Committee members on Friday held a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
The meeting was a follow-up to a similar one the committee held with the presidential candidate of the PDP and his running mate, Mr Peter Obi, over the outcome of the poll.
Speaking shortly after the meeting, the former head of state said the committee presented the grievances of the PDP and Atiku to the President.
The peace committee, which had Cardinal John Onaiyekan and the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Hassan Matthew Kukah, in attendance, arrived at the Presidential Villa about 3pm to meet with Buhari.
The meeting, which was also attended by the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, lasted one hour, ending at 4pm.
On the discussions at the meeting, the former head of state said, “Atiku presented his grievances and his observations; he did not present any condition, he gave his complaints, which we have presented and discussed with Mr President to see what can be done.”
Abubakar added that a similar meeting the committee held with Atiku a day earlier was to see how peace would flow from the presidential election across Nigeria.
“Yesterday, l met the PDP presidential candidate and his party in order to ensure peace. This is what this committee is really after, our concern is about Nigeria. And in order to listen to their grievances and what they think has gone wrong, we are here today to see his Excellency the President to relay the fears and concerns of the PDP to Mr President.
“He listened to us and has taken note of what we have told him,” Abubakar told State House correspondents.”