The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has slammed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for awarding a contract for the printing of sensitive election materials to the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Adamawa State, Senator Aishatu Ahmed Binani.
INEC had in a statement issued on Thursday by its National Commissioner, Festus Okoye, denied awarding the contract to a company belonging to the APC governorship candidate, saying Binani was not listed as one of the Directors of Binani Printing Press Limited before it awarded the contract to the company.
Okoye added that INEC decided to print all the security documents for the 2023 general election in the country to help Nigerian printers and assist in growing the nation’s economy.
However, Atiku, while reacting via a statement issued on Friday by his Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, said INEC’s excuse was watery and unconvincing.
Shaibu said it was unfortunate that despite being given an allocation of over N300 billion as well as financial assistance from foreign governments, including the European Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom, the leadership of INEC had continued to run the commission without scruples.
He said: “INEC’s latest statement cannot even fool a primary school student. An ordinary search on CAC’s portal by youths on Twitter has already revealed that Senator Binani owns Binani Printing Press Limited, a firm that was given a contract to print sensitive INEC material. The company with RC 310024, which was registered on March 13, 1997, has Senator Aishatu Ahmed listed as number one.
“It is obvious that Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has no plan of leaving a legacy of free and fair elections. With barely a year left on his tenure, his performance as INEC chairman will become a by-word for failure. This is a man who has received the highest financial allocation ever and yet cannot still run the agency effectively and deliver a credible election.
“It is funny that INEC claims it awarded the contract to Binani’s company in order to stimulate the local economy. One wonders whether it is the duty of INEC to stimulate the economy or conduct credible elections.”
Shaibu noted that this would not be the first time that INEC would be awarding sensitive contracts to APC chieftains.
Atiku’s aide recalled that ahead of the 2019 general election, INEC under the leadership of Yakubu also awarded a contract for the printing of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to Mohammed Sani Musa who in the same year was contesting for the Niger East senatorial election.
Shaibu added: “Recall that in the run-up to the 2019 Presidential election, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu admitted that the commission indeed awarded a contract to Act Technologies Limited to print Permanent Voter Cards.
“Act Technologies, whose Managing Director, Mohammed Sani Musa, was APC candidate for Niger East senatorial district at the time, went on to win that election.”
Shaibu noted that Senator Musa was arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) briefly before the 2015 elections following allegations by the spokesman for the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation.
“Despite all these complaints, INEC still insisted on awarding him a contract,” he said.
Atiku’s aide further stated that despite complaints from several political parties, INEC under the leadership of Yakubu also insisted on using the transport services of Musiliu Akinsanya, well known as MC Oluomo, to transport ballot papers across Lagos State on Election Day.
“Elections are not just supposed to be free and fair. They are expected to be free and fair. The process and credibility of an election are more important than its result. Prof. Yakubu has obviously failed Nigerians despite receiving so much money to run INEC.
“This latest excuse by INEC for awarding a contract to an APC candidate holds no water and is the height of the commission’s irresponsibility and incompetence,” Shaibu added.