Presidency on Sunday warned All Progressives Congress candidates in states where supplementary elections would hold on Saturday that President Muhammadu Buhari would not manipulate Independent National Electoral Commission in their favour.
It also warned political leaders making inflammatory statements capable of inciting the citizenry to violence ahead of Saturday’s supplementary elections to desist from such acts immediately.
It also noted that INEC was fully in charge of electoral matters in the country, not Mr Buhari, who would neither interfere with the process nor change results in favour of ruling APC.
In a statement on Sunday, the Presidency said some party leaders expected that Buhari would abuse his office by usurping the powers of INEC to turn the table in their favour.
It stated that the President would do no such thing. The Presidency advised party leaders in the six states to work hard to earn the people’s votes on Saturday.
The statement, signed by presidential spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu, partly read, “The Presidency also rejects unfair and ridiculous criticisms of President Muhammadu Buhari’s apparent disinterest in the upcoming elections in some states by party members who wrongfully assume that the President will abuse power by changing results to favour them.
“Past presidents of Nigeria were known to interfere in inconclusive elections, and that is why party members appear to be upset that the same thing is not happening now, butBuhari is a different kind of leader. He swore to defend the constitution and will not veer off from that.
“The constitution of Nigeria gives the President no such powers. It is unfair and ridiculous to criticise Buhari for not going against the constitution.
“Party members in states where there will be supplementary elections then need to be reminded that they need to work hard to earn their people’s votes, rather than expect Buhari to manipulate INEC in their favour.”
It further observed that while the ruling APC members were expecting Buhari to interfere, the opposition too had concluded that the President would use INEC to assist his party to victory.
The Presidency maintained that Buhari would not play to the wishes of anyone on the supplementary elections, insisting that APC must work hard to earn votes.
“Interestingly, while members of the ruling APC were criticising the President for not interfering on their behalf, members of the opposition were condemning the President based on their assumptions that he would definitely interfere, as many in the opposition did while in power.
“Under President Buhari, INEC had been and will be completely independent throughout the elections and will be free from any interference.
“Buhari is a man of conviction, and the manipulation of election results goes against everything he stands for; INEC is completely in charge,” the Presidency added.
INEC, security agencies meet Tuesday over military role in run-offs
Meanwhile, INEC has summoned an emergency meeting with leadership of all security agencies to ensure a peaceful conduct of forthcoming supplementary elections scheduled for March 23.
Top on the agenda of the meeting scheduled for Tuesday (tomorrow), a source said, was “to sound a note of warning to security agencies on the need to conduct themselves in a manner that will not be injurious to the commitment of INEC to conduct a free, fair and transparent election.”
In states including Rivers and Bayelsa, the opposition PDP had accused security agencies, particularly the army, of colluding with APC to harass voters.