The controversy surrounding Nigeria?s presidential elections has taken a dramatic turn after the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) accused the opposition All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) of tampering with documents of the April elections. The accusation has drawn a wide condemnation by Nigerians, describing it as the commission?s face-saving tactics. But the presidential candidate of the ANPP Muhammadu Buhari and the party leadership are demanding an apology from the electoral commission for what the party described as bogus allegations calculated to tarnish not only the reputation of the presidential candidate, but also the party.
Kabir Mato is a political science professor at the University of Abuja. From the capital, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that Nigerians should expect more accusations from the electoral commission.
?I think what?s happening is not surprising. It?s simply a manifestation of the lack of confidence, which Nigerians actually have in the leadership of that commission, which is responsible for the serious crime against humanity that was conducted in April in Nigeria in the name of elections. Ample evidence abounds that clearly shows how the electoral agency was compromised in the way it conducted the exercise and the apparent decision to show less concern over the agitations and the complaints that the Nigerian people are giving arising from that elections,? Mato pointed out.
He said the electoral commission?s allegation is a face-saving move.
?Of course they are throwing pebbles at every individual that they see along the way because they have been the object of criticism and attacks by both local and international communities. I?m not surprised about their accusations. More of it would come. It?s simply in my humble view a kind of strategy to try to fight back even in the face of very eminent defeat and loss of confidence, which majority of the citizens of this country have over the commission and its leadership,? he said.
Mato said the electoral commission failed to carry out its mandate of organizing free and fair elections.
?The issue is that in the first place, if you are saddled with the responsibility of being an impartial umpire in a contest like an election, and you conducted the job so poorly without any legitimacy both from within and outside Nigeria. And you come out to begin to try to look at really where the problem lies and you level one accusation over the other against one Nigerian or one group of Nigerians is simply so far, as I?m concerned, an escapist strategy that is being evolved now as a face-saving measure by the commission and its leadership,? Mato noted.
He urged Nigerians to take the commission?s allegation with a pinch of salt.
?I don?t think it is even worth anybody trying to give any credit or credence to the level of accusation that the commission is making against either a political party or any candidate for that matter,? he said.