Leader of the defunct Reformed All Progressives Congress (RAPC), Alhaji Buba Galadima, in this interview with ONWUKA NZESHI, warns that the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections slated for Saturday would be worse than what Nigerians witnessed during the presidential and National Assembly elections because of the desperation of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
There have been series of complaints from different quarters since the results of the presidential and National Assembly elections were announced. Since you started complaining even before the results were released, what exactly is your grouse?
Well, the most painful thing is that Nigerians are gullible people and most of us don’t see beyond our nose. If we do, we could have long time, realised that this election was never going to be free, fair, transparent or credible.
Why do you think it was never meant to be a free and fair election?
For two years, there was brick bar between the National Assembly and the Presidency over the Electoral Act and eventually, the Presidency pushed the National Assembly into a tight corner. He refused to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill at a time that it will be difficult for the National Assembly to gather the two thirds majority to override his veto. From there, Nigerians should have known that the President does not intent to conduct a free, fair, transparent or credible election.
Why do you think the proposed amendments to the Electoral Act were so central to the 2019 election?
This Electoral Act was developed by four groups namely, the Civil Society, the National Assembly, the Executive represented by the Attorney General of the Federation and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). These four groups set down to develop this Electoral Act based on the experiences of the last 40 years, including court judgments on our elections. So every loophole that negates the freedom of choice was addressed in the Electoral Act and the President felt threatened because he felt that if he signs that Electoral Act, it is like signing his death warrant.
But indeed, it shows that human beings have a short memory. It was we and me in particular that has fought for the development of the Electoral Act and the adoption of the Smart Card Reader which I under-studied in Ghana and persuaded certain people to persuade the former Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega adopt it in 2015. It was the same Smart Card Readers, apart from God, that helped Buhari to become the President of Nigeria. President Buhari did promise times without number, that if he becomes President, because if his past experiences in the hands of the other governments, that he will bring about electoral reforms that will guarantee one man, one vote. Suddenly the man came into power and got intoxicated by power and he reneged on that promise he made to Nigerians.
Apart from the refusal to sign the Electoral Act, what other red flag did you notice before the Presidential Election?
You have seen how he tried all he could in life to remove both the Speaker and the President of the Senate who he did not believe were working in his best interest because they were questioning some of the excesses of the government through the instrumentality of the oversight functions of the National Assembly. When this failed, he now turned his searchlight on the judiciary because they knew that they were not going to allow a free and fair election. But if they did not allow a free, fair and transparent election the only institution that could checkmate them is the judiciary.
Then he looked at the head of that institution in the person of Justice Walter Onnoghen and just decided to remove him for whatever reasons best known to him. If Onnoghen abused the law and the Constitution, he has been there for about three years. What stopped him from removing him all these while? Why did he have to wait until a very inappropriate time? What I saw was that he knows Onnoghen personally; he was one of the Justices of the Supreme Court that gave Buhari judgement during the 2007 elections. There was nothing that the government of the day did not do to compromise Onnoghen but he refused to do their bidding.
Therefore, he (Buhari) felt that if he compromised the elections and the case goes before the Supreme Court, Onnoghen may nullify the election. This is Onnoghen’s offence and it amounts to what one would call ingratitude because this was the man that brought his Buhari’s case to international focus and you treated him that way. It was Justice Onnoghen, Justice George Oguntade and Justice Aloma Muktar; three Justices of the Supreme Court that have judgement in favour of General Buhari during the 2007 Presidential Election. Do you think, God is not watching? God will definitely vindicate the just.
Beyond the removal of Onnoghen, was there any other indication that Nigeria was heading for a compromised election?
Yes. Another thing happened but you people in the media didn’t quite follow the trend. When we spoke about it, some people thought that we were just blowing hot air. They said we were just ranting because we did not get appointments. The man ordered for Python Dance across the 36 states of country and Abuja. He said the soldiers will do military drills one month before the General Election and one month after the election. What necessitated Python Dance? Nigerians have forgotten about all these.
This is the military that cannot handle Boko Haram. This is the military that cannot stop insurgency and kidnapping in Zamfara State and Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State. This is the same military that cannot stop farmers/herders clashes in Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue states.
Now they are brought to do electoral duties. Suddenly the elections came and the man designed something to deceive the world. He announced that whoever steals ballot box during the election should be shot. I said on a programme on one of the television stations that that order was meant for the opposition because they will never shoot any APC man.
Is it true that the government ordered the banks to freeze the accounts of opposition figures?
The government called bank Managing Directors and asked them to block the accounts of all opposition people including my very self. They blocked my account up till now.
You mean that blocked all your accounts?
I have only one account in life. What are my doing with several accounts? I have one account and it is a local account
Why would they block people’s accounts?
They blocked it so that I cannot have access to it but I have only Two Hundred Thousand Naira there. They blocked every account belonging to key opposition figures. They called the banks to do it. You know Tunde Ayeni, former Chairman of Skye Bank? He was picked up and up till now he has neither been released nor charged to court. Abubakar Atiku’s in-law (Babalele Abdullahi) was picked up and detained, no news. One man, a Bureau De Change operator in Lagos whom they are accusing of changing money for Atiku was also picked.
You also know how Atiku’s private jet was vandalised when he came back from Dubai because they thought he must have brought a lot of money.
But look at them, they broke into the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and were ferrying money to every nook and cranny to buy votes. Every polling booth in the North, particularly in Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa and Bauchi was flooded with money. Every polling booth, they budgeted N2. 5million.Where did they get the money? After all the party has never done a fundraising for this but you have seen how planes were carrying large amounts of money that the planes cannot take off. You have seen how a Boeing 737 delivered bullion vans loaded with money from Abuja to Lagos and other cities of this country.
All these ones, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was blind to them because they are public money that were being distributed by government. Of course, you also know the Trader Moni and the Anchor Borrower Fund that they said 12 million farmers have donated N10,000 each to President Buhari’s campaign fund. You and I know that this is false. Where did the 12 million farmers meet to take that decision? So if Nigerians are not gullible people, they could have understood long ago that the 2019 General Election was not going to be free, fair and credible
The main opposition party, PDP raised issues about discrepancies in the distribution of electoral materials. What exactly happened in this area?
All the states of the Federation were given 130 per cent of their total requirement of electoral materials. So, they distributed 130 per cent to the Local Government Areas according to law and keep the remaining 30 per cent. When they Central Bank finishes the distribution, they call back the APC and give them the remaining 30 per cent including Form EC8E which is the result sheets for them to go and fill at home. They use the Police and soldiers to kidnap the people holding the original result sheet and force them to submit the forged results. All these have happened in the full glare of everybody but the international community cannot understand this.
What do you think you party should have done before or during the election to avert these manipulations?
The party has done very well. It has done everything under the sun to protect its votes. What it has not done well is to shout to the high heavens for the world to know or if need be protest on the streets.
You said that the result sheets were given to the APC to go home and fill the results. Don’t you think that such a situation will be difficult to prove in court if INEC tenders the forged results as the original?
Of course, it can. I want to assure you, it can because even where they have them the originals when they are writing the results, they don’t make the copies legible enough for you to read so that when you are trying to do the calculation, you wouldn’t know what figures are there. So they are very clever except that they are clever only by half.
Unknown to them, we had before the election, advised our people on how to snap with the camera, the results that were being signed at the various polling booths. We had cameras that captured all discussions and voting in those areas. This is why they are hysterical that they don’t want us to go to court because I said that we had captured 99 per cent of the results that were declared in the country. All the things they do at ward and local government levels would not tally with what was obtained at the polling units which is the foundation of the whole process.
While the INEC Chairman was announcing the results, Nigerians also noticed some discrepancies in terms of the number of those accredited, total votes cast and number of rejected or invalid votes. Do you think this could be an issue in court?
Of course, yes. We have three ways of proving these matters. What we have captured on camera, the result sheets that we were able to snap and also the accreditation in the Card Reader. If there is a discrepancy between accreditation and results declared that makes the whole thing in the whole state a nullity. It was clearly stated by the INEC Chairman and we have him on camera that wherever the Card Reader is not used, the election is null and void in those places.
Don’t you think they could resort to the legal argument that the Card Reader is not in the Electoral Act but only a guideline?
Of course, there is nothing they will not try but it is part of the INEC guideline which must be followed. But they can resort to anything but if the judiciary still has men of honour, the matter is sorted out.
With the Onnoghen saga and other things that have happened to the judiciary, do you think that the Nigerian judiciary will not be cowed to overlook what you call discrepancies in this election?
Well, that is left for them. I hope you know that in my religion, today on earth the representatives of God are judicial officers who are supposed to dispense justice without fear or favour. If they don’t, those who believe in God among them, know that they are going to meet the overall Chief Justice later. Secondly, there are certain evidence that when you are confronted with them, whether you like my face or you don’t like it, you have no choice but to uphold the truth.
In the last few days, some prominent Nigerians and interest groups including the ruling party, APC have been asking the PDP not to go to court. What do you make of these calls?
In fact, what I see in the whole thing is that the APC people are just fools. Let me give you example of three people who are what they are today because they approached the court when they felt cheated in an election.
First is the Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, who is now saying that Atiku should not go to court, that Atiku is a perpetual loser. He doesn’t know that he is castigating and denigrating himself. Why did he go to court when he lost election? He got his mandate through the courts and he doesn’t want someone else to go to court. I think you should ask him why he doesn’t want Atiku to go to court.
Secondly, candidate himself, Buhari; how many times did he go to court? Even when his party withdrew from the court process, he continues with the court case. So he has no locus whatsoever to ask somebody not to go to court without referring to why he went to court when he was in a similar situation. Even when he contested against his own junior brother, President Umar Yar Adua of blessed memory, he went to court even when there were entreaties from some people that they were the same people.
Then the last of the three – the Director General of the Campaign, Rotimi Amaechi. How did he become Governor of Rivers State? He is a beneficiary of the court process but he does not want another person to go to court. Do you need me to give you more examples than these three?
The intriguing thing about all these issues is hypocrisy. Why are they afraid about someone going to court? Why is it that they don’t want Atiku to go to court? If they have their facts that they won this election fair and square, why should they be afraid? Let them go to court; they can go and finish him there. Are they the ones giving him money to pay for lawyers? Did they give him money to contest the election? After all they arrested everyone around him and blocked their accounts. So what is their wahala? Let him go and suffer now.
Atiku is not saying that the court must give him judgment; all he is saying is that he must exercise his democratic rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Nigeria. The law says that when you are dissatisfied with an election, you go to court and challenge the result and prove it. If you don’t prove it, let the court’s day so. So what’s their issue? Can’t Nigerians see that they are so desperate to remain in power? It means there is something they know which we don’t know and that thing that we don’t know may come out in court and all these talk about honesty and integrity would have been floored.
Maybe after that, nobody will again raise his hand to say he’s honest or he has integrity. None of them has any integrity. Let me close this chapter by telling you that Joseph Stalin of Russia once said that: ‘Those who vote decide nothing but those who count the votes determine everything.’
One of the complaints of your party in the Presidential election is the use of the military to manipulate the electoral process in favour of the ruling party. We are approaching another election on Saturday, are you not afraid that the military would still be deployed for the same purpose?
Let me tell you what is coming. They will even go beyond the military. But in the first place, let us look at the use of the military. It was Buhari and I that took the military to court and the Supreme Court, after years of litigation, ruled that the military has no role in any civilian matter, especially in an election. But because they are forgetful, maybe they are suffering from dementia, they’ve forgotten the ruling of the Supreme Court. They have committed the same offence which the Supreme Court had ruled against. This is why we say, they are lawless people who have no respect for the rule of law. I have said that times without number.
Having said this, what are the Rules of Engagement (ROE) for the military in internal security containment? The role is explicit in military laws that for you to deploy the military internally even for internal strife and there was none. The elections have not even been conducted when the government deployed the military. There was no fight; there was no strife; they just deployed the military to harass and intimidate people and make sure that they don’t vote.
The Rule of Engagement says the Nigeria Police has the responsibility to provide security across Nigeria. If the task is beyond them, it is the Police that should tell the Commander-In-Chief that the situation is beyond them and they need the assistance of the military.
When it comes to electoral matters, it is the INEC Chairman, according to our laws that should invite even the Police, let alone the military, for any duty. Is it the INEC Chairman that told them he cannot conduct this election and that the military should be invited? I think there is the need for the press to confront the INEC Chairman and find out if he was the one who invited the military.
So what are your fears?
My fear is that they (APC ) have already said that they want all their governors to return. They want them to retain their positions whether they win their election or not. We heard some of them who are our friends telling us that we shouldn’t waste our time. In addition to their own governors, they have also zeroed in on taking over Sokoto by force; Benue by force; Kwara by force; Taraba by force; Akwa Ibom by force; Rivers by force and also take Delta by force. You know what it will take for them to retain any state in the South-West where they lost all the six states of the South -West to Atiku?
You mean the PDP won the entire South -West in the Presidential election?
Of course, that’s our record.#
You mean including Lagos?