The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari did not intervene in the political controversies in Adamawa State because the matter was purely within the purview of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The minister said this yesterday while responding to questions from State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.
Asked why the President did not sanction the Adamawa State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Barrister Hudu Yunusa Ari, who wrongfully declared the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate in the state, Aisha Dahiru Binani, winner of the poll, even when the collation of the results was yet to be concluded, the minister said: “I don’t think that this government has ever intervened in the way the Independent National Electoral Commission conducts elections. It was entirely an INEC matter and INEC has handled it.”
Asked whether the President would act since the INEC had called on him to discipline the REC who is his appointee, Mohammed said he was not in any position to ‘second guess’ what the President would do on the matter.
He, however, stressed that such a petition would have to pass through the process, beginning from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, before it gets to the President.
Asked specifically what he did during his recent media tour to the United States of America and the United Kingdom, Mohammed said: “I went to the US to balance the skewed report about the just concluded elections and everywhere I went I said unequivocally that the last general election in Nigeria has been most transparent and that despite the efforts of the opposition to de-legitimise or soil the elections.
“I stated there that two reasons why these elections were key were, one, that the use of technology, BVAS, made it difficult for anybody to do the usual thing before by overvoting, stuffing ballots and the rest because once it takes your biometrics, you can’t vote twice.
“Secondly, the President before the elections promised that he would provide a level playing ground and he did. In the first instance, he did not confer any advantage on the ruling party and that is why, as far as we are concerned, we would rather lose the election than win at all costs. And the results showed it. The President lost the presidential election in his own state, Katsina. It has never happened before for a sitting president to lose in his own state.
“I went further to say that the President prevented anybody from using the security to rig elections. Of course, the last election was the least violent in the history of Nigeria.”
On his call for the trial of Peter Obi for treason, the minister said: “What I said about Mr Peter Obi is very clear. I said Mr Peter ObI has every right to seek redress in court. But nobody has the right to call for insurrection or to threaten to say that if the President-elect is sworn-in, that would be the end of democracy.
“One precisely watched what the running mate of Mr Peter Obi said on television and I have not heard Mr Peter Obi reigning him or correcting him. So if your running mate says something, of course, he was saying it on behalf of the party and on behalf of the candidate. It was treason for anybody to say that if a duly elected President of Nigeria is sworn in that would be the end of democracy, it’s treason. For anybody to say if you swear in a duly elected President you are swearing in the military, it’s treason. So, I don’t see anything controversial in that.”