The US Nigeria Law group has released its report on the just concluded 2019 General Elections to PoliticsNGR. The group described the elections as heavily “Militarized, Monetized and Manipulated’.
Read the Full Report Below;
“During US NIGERIA LAW GROUP’S election assessment mission in Nigeria, we observed efforts to compromise the elections and raised early warnings and concerns which have now been validated and proven by the resulting self-sabotaged elections.”
“It is our conclusion that by and large the purported failures and shortcomings detected in the elections were actually contrived and orchestrated to benefit the incumbent ruling party.”
EARLY WARNING PREDICTOR/ INDICATOR ONE –
PROCESS MONETIZATION – ATTEMPTED UNDERMINING OF THE ELECTIONS THROUGH COMPROMISING POLL OFFICIALS
On the eve of the presidential and National Assembly polls of February 16, our team arrived Benue State as participant observers.
We reported then as follows:
i. COMPROMISED SELECTION OF POLL OFFICIALS & BRIBERY
“ …we gathered that out of a list of about 500 names submitted by a federal institution to INEC as poll officials, a ruling party Senator selected those whom he deemed he could “work with”. In addition the APC Senator doled out millions of naira which was distributed to the INEC-trained poll officials at a location in Makurdi the Benue State Capital. The temp poll officials were called by phone to come and collect the serving Senator’s cash in person from the said location.”
VALIDATION/EVIDENCE 1.1: in the elections of March 9, a university professor was apprehended with election materials in Benue State and his vehicle burnt by irate voters
We reported then as well viz:
v. CASH DISTRIBUTION
“We witnessed firsthand the distribution of cash from the back of a vehicle to political operatives for unknown purposes. Ironically the party functionaries were escorted by police. We were unable to determine their party affiliation although we identified the prominent politician in charge.”
VALIDATION/EVIDENCE 1.2: in the elections of March, the EFCC apprehended a vehicle loaded with currency in the trunk linked to the APC politicians we reported on in February.
The facts emerging from the foregoing are that consistent with our early warnings, some professors were indeed compromised.
EARLY WARNING PREDICTOR/ INDICATOR TWO
PROCESS MILITARIZATION – UNDERMINING OF ELECTIONS BY EXCESSIVE SECURITY PRESENCE & VIOLENCE
In February we observed that:
“We are gravely concerned at the brazen militarization of these elections.
We are deeply concerned at Gen. Buhari’s remarks that electoral malpractice will attract summary execution. Buhari has gone beyond militarization to materialization of the election process.
We are more concerned at remarks attributed to the Chief of Army Staff that,
“If Commander-in-Chief has given order to the Nigerian Army to that effect, be rest assured that order will be totally and effectively obeyed without any ifs or buts.”
…While the electorate prepares for elections, the incumbent is preparing a military operation.”
VALIDATION 2.1 Security deployments to Rivers State
The overweening military deployment in Rivers state resembled a war zone. Viral video footage showed soldiers overrun the home of the state Education Commissioner as well as charging through his kitchen chasing after female residents with guns drawn.
Other videos shoe courageous women chanting and keeping soldiers from breaking in and stealing election results.
Yet another video shows protesters singing Christian choruses when the military opens fire on the harmless crowd injuring several.
In another, the military went to arrest a former militant but were prevented by members of his community.
Another video shows policemen arbitrarily shooting innocent and defenceless citizens in cold blood.
Finally, a bizarre video shows an INEC official admitting that their office was besieged by the military and results of election officers were being confiscated. As a result, they could not do their work of result collation.
The military invasion and rampage in Rivers State are troublesome on several levels, not the least of which is:
The ruling party APC was not even a candidate in the elections yet the government interfered with military might to rig in the most ignoble and egregious way ever.
The wicked, oppressive and violent attacks on innocent civilians and their homes and property in the formerly restive Niger Delta just for elections has the real propensity for reigniting another armed insurrection in the region.
It is clear that the overarching objective of the coercive force is not to instal APC which has no candidate but to uninstall PDP. Rivers State has been the key rallying point and resource base for the opposition and the military mission is to completely gut their capacity by stripping them of power in Rivers State.
It should be pointed out that electoral law places security under INEC and not INEC under security.
The army has denied that its personnel are the ones featured with arms in uniform perpetrating these atrocities. This response is neither credible nor helpful as it implies there are fake soldiers on rampage and the real army is helpless to protect the citizenry from them.
EARLY WARNING PREDICTOR/ INDICATOR THREE
We had reported that:
“We are concerned that these attacks like many in the Middle Belt have served the purpose of displacing voters in opposition strongholds thus disenfranchising them.”
Between the two elections over 200 people were slaughtered in non-voting massacres in Benue, Zamfara and Kaduna states where there is deep resentment over the government’s failure to address pervasive insecurity and pernicious loss of lives over the years.
It is particularly disheartening that military forces were mobilized to opposition states for the elections in numbers unseen in insecurity-plagued states showing a total lack of prioritization and callous insensitivity to human lives.
EARLY WARNING PREDICTOR/ INDICATOR FOUR –
SUBVERSION OF THE ELECTIONS AND AGAIN THE JUDICIARY
In our interim report part 2 dated Feb 20, we said thus:
“On Saturday, elections were postponed overnight. Our investigation and analysis indicates that this was orchestrated.
Below are the details of the self-incriminating recent statements by the president himself admitting to his displeasure with the judgment and his plans for extra-judicial “justice”:
i. “I am very disturbed by the decision that we are not allowed to participate in some processes in the election. But we have to respect the decision of the institution,” he said.
He added: “I am really saddened by the ruling of the Supreme Court, which barred APC from fielding candidates in Rivers State. The courts have barred us from participating in the general election in Rivers State.
“However, as we remain resolute in our effort to win the 2019 general election, I assure you that justice will be done.”
He declared that his administration would ensure that the Rivers State chapter of the APC gets justice despite the ruling of the Supreme Court, which struck out its appeal. – Buhari February 2019 Thisday Newspaper (on his alternative plans after the judiciary didn’t rule his way)
We had raised concern at the extrajudicial “justice” Gen. Buhari had promised in Rivers State. The subsequent military invasion and operation proved in effect that he meant martial law or worse jungle justice.
Furthermore, we also stated that:
“We need to be clear that the INEC under Gen Buhari started out with inconclusive elections and has ended with postponed elections. These scenarios allowed for crass manipulation and distortions that resulted in unexpected outcomes.
iii. In another stunning public admission, the Guardian Newspaper (Jan 27, 2019) reports, “Buhari, who failed to provide details of what he meant by remote control, said: “I know how much trouble we had in the last election here. I know by remote control through so many sources how we managed to maintain the party (APC) in power in this state.” “
Three facts emerge from the above:
The existence of a presidential remote control using multiple factors to override difficult elections to retain power for the ruling party.
The existence of an unknown mechanism for the ruling party to obtain extrajudicial justice even beyond the Supreme Court
The existence of nobody who can unseat Gen. Buhari despite the elections or judiciary
INEC announced inconclusive elections in 6 states out of which PDP was reportedly leading in all but one. This is highly suggestive and unsettling all by itself.
However, there are further indications that:
Similar results in states in which the APC was leading were not declared inconclusive
Some states where a rerun was illogical because the mathematical probabilities could not conceivably produce a different outcome have still been scheduled for rerun.
The principle on cancelled votes versus margin of victory which ostensibly informed the inconclusive declarations in state elections was not uniformly applied in the presidential elections
So far the following states have been declared inconclusive – the most ever in Nigerian history:
Benue, Plateau, Adamawa, Sokoto, Kano and Bauchi states.
It is especially noteworthy that in the case of Kano State, the PDP was overwhelming leading when the Deputy Governor seized and tore the results of the last Local Government to be declared. This brazen act of brigandage was caught on video and is perhaps emblematic of how the election results overall have been hijacked.
We note also that curiously Rivers State is not listed for rerun on March 23rd like these states.
EARLY WARNING PREDICTOR/ INDICATOR FIVE
BRAZEN INTERFERENCE BY EXECUTIVE DIRECTIVE OF AGF
We had observed that “The Buhari administration perpetrated another violation of the constitution in the run up to the elections” when his AGF wrote to INEC thus,
“iv.“Consequent, on the above, INEC is invited to comply with the judgment of the Court of Appeal by admitting the result of the APC Zamfara state primaries and also comply with the provisions of section 38 of the Electoral Act which empowers INEC to postpone the election for the governorship, National and State Houses of Assembly election.”
The AGF was acting on the basis of a private petition in writing the letter and not on behalf of the Government of Nigeria of which he is the Chief Law Officer.
The AGF is blaming INEC for “delay” and “refusal” and dictates that INEC “cannot foreclose” the party.
The AGF actually admits in writing that the APC needs “a little time to catch up.”
The illicit motive could not be clearer nor more dubious – to score advantage for a political party!”
We already noted that INEC postponed the elections of February 16th and March 2nd after the Attorney General requested it whether or not INEC admits that it was in response to his directive.
However, in further validation of our early warning that this was contrived for the benefit of the incumbent party, INEC also allowed the APC in Zamfara State to field candidates in the rescheduled elections just like the AG illegally and fraudulently requested. The express expectations of both men have been fulfilled with the INEC initial postponement benefiting Zamfara and the latest postponement impacting Rivers State.
EARLY WARNING PREDICTOR/ INDICATOR SIX
Earlier we had reported that:
“While it is difficult to establish empirically that the postponement was orchestrated, there is overwhelming circumstantial evidence to that effect.
Our investigations indicate that aircraft and personnel on the presidential entourage returned prematurely from Daura on the eve of the election. The entourage which was supposed to remain in Daura till after the elections flew back on Friday 15 2019 – the eve of the elections – lending credence to the suspicion that at that time, the presidency was likely already aware that the elections would not hold the following day. This was before close of business on Friday and the INEC meeting conclusion.”
Upon monitoring VIP flight activity from Daura, Katsina State during the weekend of the actual elections on the 23rd of February, our investigation revealed that the aircraft in the presidential campaign entourage returned a day AFTER the actual presidential election (on the 24th) instead of a day BEFORE the cancelled elections (on the 15th). This confirms that the presidency was aware of the planned cancellation of the elections on the Feb 16th elections before hand and thus sent the aircraft back. On the weekend of the actual election, the aircraft remained till after the election.
EARLY WARNING PREDICTOR/ INDICATOR SEVEN
There is even more evidence of collusion between the ruling APC and INEC. On Monday, March 11, an APC stalwart posted on Facebook that INEC had declared the Gubernatorial elections inconclusive. However INEC didn’t announce it till over an hour later.
At least two APC operatives in Benue State are known to have prematurely announced INEC’s decision before INEC made its decision public.
Based on the foregoing and numerous other indicators, it is clear that some of the perceived failures and shortcomings in the elections from the postponements to the inconclusiveness were systematized failures, premeditated exclusively for the benefit and perpetuation of the incumbent party.
EARLY WARNING PREDICTOR/ INDICATOR EIGHT
We wish to note further that the misconduct in the March elections which are even more brazen and better documented than the February elections themselves illustrate and vindicate the prevailing perception that the presidential polls were compromised.
Ironically the presidency itself in a campaign stomp claimed that the elections were rigged and the mandate of the APC Senatorial candidate in Akwa Ibom State was stolen. However, both the presidential and senatorial elections held simultaneously. The presidency is self-indicting in claiming that an election which they “won” was “rigged.”
Further compounding this bizarre scenario, INEC the Election Body itself claimed it was conducting supplementary elections despite the fact that it had declared results and already awarded certificates to the president and Vice President. To clarify this absurdity, INEC reportedly said the supplementary elections were for Senatorial elections. Again the Presidential and Senatorial held side by side. It would be illogical to contend that the presidential election was fine but the senatorial was not as in most scenarios whatever factors precipitate a rerun in one would generally necessitate a rerun in the other.
EARLY WARNING PREDICTOR/INDICATOR NINE
UNCONSTITUTIONAL REMOVAL OF CJN
In our report of February 7th 2019 we warned as follows:
“In view of previous reports from justices that they were approached by a serving minister and principal campaign promoter of Gen Buhari that he had sent him to ask the Supreme Court to rule in favor of the ruling APC in several Gubernatorial matters whereupon the recalcitrant justices were then arrested in 2016, we alert the international community of Gen Buhari’s persistent and sustained onslaught on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.
The electoral intent is clear – that procuring the judiciary is the regime’s insurance policy for failing to secure the elections. “
Additionally, “The swearing in of a new Chief judge by Gen Buhari and his swearing in of 250 election tribunal judges within 24 hours is troubling in this regard as it sends a message to the judges that those who rule for Buhari will be favored and those who don’t will be persecuted. “
The Presidential elections have now become the subject of litigation as the opposition has filed preliminary processes to that effect before a tribunal established for that purpose.
While the 2015 elections made significant progress in that litigation was avoided for the first time in history with regard to presidential elections, the 2019 elections were so bad that it has returned Nigeria back to the path of contentious litigation. Clearly, the presidency foresaw this eventuality thus the brazen attempt to illegally remove a Chief Justice whom they accused of not ruling in their favour.
It is to be noted that as at now the issue of the CJN has yet to be resolved. Buhari’s unconstitutionally appointed acting Chief Justice is beholden to him for unilaterally giving him an appointment for which he was not due. This a dark cloud that will overshadow his controversial tenure and question his judicial independence.
EARLY WARNING PREDICTOR/INDICATOR TEN
THREATS TO FOREIGN OBSERVERS
We had previously reported that:
“the death threats to members of the international community per Mr El-Rufai show an egregious and pernicious pattern of repression by this regime of human rights lawyers, political opponents, justices and even international observers who won’t do his bidding.”
In addition to being limited to relatively safer zones of the country, international observers reported being further constrained by the military who prevented them from monitoring elections in Rivers State.
We note that a Premium Times journalist was abducted, threatened and his photos of under aged voters in Plateau State deleted prior to his release. This was just one of numerous observers, party agents amongst others to have been abused in the course of their lawful duties.
The restraint of international observers is not only proof of the government’s grand design to brazenly rig the elections but also that resistance would have resulted in their return in “bodyguards” as earlier warned.
We want to especially note the latest threat from INEC to deal with those who call into question its conduct of the elections. This is highly unusual and unbecoming.
INEC has failed to show similar concern to deal with those who raped, abducted and killed its staff or destroyed its property. Rather it is fixated on persecuting critics in a clear misplacement of priorities.
The proper thing to do is for INEC to defend its conduct or misconduct of the elections in court where hundreds of litigations are piling up rather than dissipate its energy on a misadventure. This culture of repression of criticism is reminiscent of dictatorship and INEC as the purveyor of democratic elections least of all should exhibit such traits.
In a prior report we noted that:
“The Buhari regime acting ostensibly on a private petition interfered with both the Judiciary and INEC regarding the removal of CJN and election postponement respectively.
The Buhari regime in both the Judiciary and INEC matters violated the constitution of Nigeria which guarantees their independence from interference.
The Buhari regime in furtherance of its partisan agenda in both the Judiciary and INEC fabricated a faux court ruling on the basis of which justify its unconstitutional acts.
The Buhari regime stated clearly an unambiguously its displeasure with both the Judiciary and INEC for not delivering its preferred outcomes.
There is a clear pattern of desperation, constitutional violation and fabrication in the actions of the regime towards both key institutions who have a critical role in the elections.”
The above taken together with the President’s refusal to sign the Electoral Reforms into law show clearly the men’s era or criminal intent by the president not to allow the conduct credible elections from the word “go.”
Indeed the president is on record for having said following the passage of the “not too young to run” law that it should be only after his re-election. This Freudian slip cements the notion that he nixed the electoral reforms for the same self-perpetuation.
For these and other reasons, it is transparently clear that the Buhari regime had both motive, opportunity, men’s rea and actus reus (criminal intent and culpable acts) and declared intent and discernible actions to undermine the elections. In this respect, they were successful in premeditated failure.