TEXT OF PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY BALOGUN AKIN OSUNTOKUN DG OBI-DATTI PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN ORGANISATION ON MONDAY 13TH FEBRUARY 2023
We have received with shock, reports of multiple attacks on Supporters of our Party, especially as they were heading to our Mega Rally at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, last Saturday, and in other locations across the country resulting in death injuries, destruction of vehicles, and theft of personal items.
We call on the Inspector General Of Police, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, the Department of State Services, the Civil Defence Force and all security agencies, to deploy intelligence and reinforcements all over Lagos, and indeed in all other potential flashpoint and locations across the country, immediately, as the election season is already underway.
These dastardly acts must be checked and the perpetrators and their sponsors arrested forthwith.
We call upon the Lagos State Governor and all Political leaders in Lagos state to immediately condemn these provocative acts of violence, and reign in any political supporters who may be involved in instigating these attacks.
We urge our supporters and all people of goodwill in Lagos, to continue their preparations and participation in the election , while taking all precautions with regard to their safety.
A few days ago also, speculation and rumuors emerged, that INEC had engaged the services of Lagos State Park and Garage Management Committee, led by Mr Musiliu Akinsanya, also known as MC Oluomo, , a member of the APC Presidential Campaign Council and a known loyalist of the presidential candidate of the APC, in the distribution of sensitive election materials in the forthcoming presidential election in Lagos.
We initially took the allegation with a pinch of salt, believing that INEC was conscious of red lines in these elections and that common sense and logic would not permit such arbitrariness.
However, as days passed by, it became clear to us, that the news report was correct, especially as the explanation given by Mr Festus Okoye INEC Director of Information and Voter Education, does not go far enough in refuting this association .
This partisan and provocative action by INEC, in entrusting the conveyance of election materials into the hands of agents of an interested political party in Lagos State, is reprehensible and unprecedented in the annals of Nigeria’s electoral and political history.
In the light of the above, therefore, we are constrained to state as follows:
It is a matter of grave concern, that barely 12 days to the 2023 presidential election, the INEC leadership led by Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, has continued to give disturbing signals and strong reason for doubt and suspicion, on its impartiality, and with total disregard for the mood of the nation, at this time.
Our fears are indeed reinforced by the recent action of INEC in endorsing , via their official Twitter handle, a tweet, wherein the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, was maligned by another Presidential candidate.
This insensitivity of INEC to the public outcry on the glaringly partisan engagement of Lagos State Park and Garage Management Committee, led by MC Oluomo, as major logistics contractor in Lagos State, during the election, is indeed very disturbing and capable of jeopardizing the election operation.
In addition, recent public statements by the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Lagos State, Olusegun Agbaje, bordering on sectional bias and resentment, have shown overwhelming partisanship on his side, and therefore, he cannot be trusted with the onerous task of conducting an unbiased election, in a volatile state like Lagos.
We recall further, with apprehension, that the heavily criticised 2018 Osun Governorship rerun election, wherein Mr. Gboyega Oyetola was controversially declared the winner, to the dismay of the populace, including international observers, was also conducted by this same Olusegun Agbaje.
It is therefore, against the above backdrop, that we demand the following immediate actions from INEC:
An immediate cancellation of the logistics contract entered into, between INEC and the Lagos State Park and Garage Management Committee headed by MC Oluomo;
An immediate redeployment and blacklisting from any election duty, anywhere, of Lagos REC, Olusegun Agbaje, whose recent actions have raised concrete doubts about his suitability as an election supervisor, not just in Lagos State, but anywhere in decent society. There are far too many capable Nigerians of good professional and ethical standard available within INEC, to conduct an acceptable election, than to run the risk of any unpopular pre-determined outcome, which his conduct, strongly suggest.
We therefore urge INEC to remember that, it must always remain above suspicion, transparent and professional, more so in this election, of so much public hope and so much public trust.
In building the requisite public confidence, INEC must, as a matter of fact, leave no room for doubt or for repetitive malfeasance, by any staff or official, whose professional ability, partiality and moral rectitude have already give reasonable cause for alarm.
In closing, we wish to remind INEC that this a very important election, in which the people have not only demonstrated so much participatory interest, but also the will to ensure that things are done right.
We in the Labour Party will continue to toe the path of propriety, discipline and fair play, but we will also we remain unwavering in insisting on a truly free and fair election.
The Obidient Spirit is not such that can be deterred by violence or thuggery, and we shall remain undeterred in our march to February 25th, and in our resolve to vote in Peter Obi and Datti Baba-Ahmed, the team with the rounded capacity to turn Nigeria around, for the better.
We wish INEC, the Security agencies and all authorities mandated with conducting the elections, the very best.
Balogun Akin Osuntokun