The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has described the 2023 general election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as free, fair and credible.
According to Mohammed, the defeat of the All Progressives Congress (APC), where their bigwigs lost their states, shows that the election was not rigged.
Bellnewsonline.com learnt that the minister stated this in Washington DC during his official engagements with some international media organisations.
The Minister noted that the move of President Muhammadu Buhari to create a level playing ground during the election made him resolve not to confer a special advantage on any political party.
He further stated that during the just concluded elections, President Buhari ensured that nobody used the security agencies to rig the election.
Mohammed said, “Proof of this resolution is that the President’s party lost the presidential election in Katsina, his home state.
“Equally, the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, lost in his state, Lagos, while the Chairman of the Party, Abdullahi Adamu, lost in Nasarawa state to the Labour Party.
“The Director-General of the Campaign Organisation of our party also lost to PDP in Plateau state.
“Nothing gives this election more credence than those facts because there was no rigging in states where our bigwigs come from.”
Mohammed added that the claims of the opposition parties that the electoral process was not credible did not add up.
He noted that the claims were prompted due to the inability of INEC to upload the results of the Presidential election in real-time.
The minister said IREV, a platform whereby election results at the polling level are uploaded, was not a tool for the collation of elections or to transmit results electronically.
Mohammed stated, “Under our laws today, management of election results is manual and the court has ruled that INEC has the exclusive right to determine the mode of election, its collation and transmission.
“What happened on the 25th of February was that INEC observed that the results of the Presidential elections were not being viewed.
“INEC, suspecting a cyber attack, withheld the uploading of the results to preserve the integrity of the data.
“It immediately proceeded to float an alternative platform while asking its technicians to investigate what happened to its original portal.
“It is unfortunate that this is what the opposition is relying on to say the elections were rigged.
“So far, none of the political parties has come out to say that what is on Form EC8A is different from what was uploaded on IREV.”
Speaking on delay in delivering election materials to certain areas, the minister said it was difficult in a country as diverse and complex as Nigeria for election materials to arrive at the same time everywhere.
He said with 176,846 polling units scattered all over the country with different topography, it would be difficult to deliver the materials simultaneously.
The Minister said, “In some areas, you need to use donkeys, human portals, and boats to access some of these difficult areas.
“We also know the challenge of unanticipated cash crunch that slowed down logistic movements.
“The redesigning of the naira did not help matters because some of the people who transported the materials insisted on a cash payment which was not available.”
Mohammed said the Police report identified pockets of violence scattered all over the country but they were not substantial enough to discredit the polls.
The minister, who quoted a police report, said there were 489 cases of electoral infractions during the election and 781 electoral offenders that would be charged in court.
In his analysis of the report, the minister said it was a ratio of one infraction in over 300 polling units which was not sufficient to void the elections.