The fever generated by the eagerness of Nigerians about the outcome collation of the presidential election results in Abuja inched to its peak on Tuesday, when the Peoples Democratic Party’s agent, Godsday Orubebe, caused a row at the venue.
Tension rose as those within the hall and others watching the exercise on the television sets in their homes began to entertain fear that Orubebe’s attempt to stop the proceedings from going on could truncate the electoral process.
The drama had barely ended when Orubebe’s profile, was immediately updated on Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, as attempting to disrupt the announcement of the presidential election on Tuesday.
The exercise started on a dramatic note at about 11.30am when Orubebe signified his intention to raise an observation.
At that time, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, who presided over the exercise, had already invited the Ebonyi State Collation Officer to announce the result of the presidential election from the state.
After he was handed the microphone he took some steps further towards the podium where he could be well captured by cameras mounted by both domestic and foreign journalists.
He began his observation with an allegation that Jega was bias and had exhibited ethnic partiality with the promptness with which he (Jega) treated the All Progressives Congress’ petition about alleged fraud in Rivers State and conversely the scant attention the INEC chief had paid to the PDP’s petition about suspected irregularities in some states in the North-West where Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of the APC, won resoundingly.
Orubebe said, “We have lost confidence in what you are doing. If we can send a protest and you cannot take that protest then what are we doing here? Because the essence of why we are sending any protest is to enable you to look at the matter and see whether it has merit or demerit. But when the APC (leaders) brought their own, you went all out to send a delegation to Port Harcourt.
“We have complained about Kano, we have complained about Katsina, we have complained about Kaduna, and Jigawa you have not done anything.
“Mr. Chairman, we are not going to take that, we have lost confidence because you are partial, you are selective. We don’t believe in you anymore. We cannot go on the way you are going because you have compromised. You have compromised and we are not going to take it from you until something is done on our letters, we will not continue with you.
“Until you do something to our letter the way you did to the APC we will not continue with you.
“That is our stand we will not; until you do something the way you did to the APC we will not continue with you.”
At this point some security personnel tried to take the microphone from him, but he resisted it and went on to sit on the podium.
He said, “Don’t come and collect this mic (microphone) from me. Don’t come. The press should look at it this is already printed. We cannot take it. You are tribalistic, you are selective. You are selective, you are partial we will not take it from you. Until something is done to our protest we will not allow you to continue with this. You will not. We will not allow it. Nigerians will not allow this, Nigerians will not allow this.
“This matter must be taken seriously, we will not allow it. We will not allow it. Look at the result that has already been printed by Jega and the APC. Look at it (waving some papers). The press should take it. This is already printed by Jega and the APC. We will not take it. Look at it. This was done yesterday, this was done yesterday (Monday).
Jega, who had maintained his calm, asked that he be allowed to respond to Orubebe’s allegations but the PDP agent refused to allow the INEC boss to speak.
He held firmly to the microphone and continued to shout on top of his voice.
Orubebe said, “This country belongs to everybody, Jega cannot take us for granted. We will not take it, we will not allow it. Jega has nothing to say here, let him go back to his office to set up a committee for Kaduna, Kano.
“Jega has nothing to say here he did not come here before he did something about Rivers State, let him go to his office. I will not leave here.”
Orubebe replied again when Jega made a second attempt to respond to the allegations. “You cannot respond here, you cannot respond here, you cannot respond here. You did not come here to respond on the issue of Rivers State. You cannot respond here, he cannot respond here.
“You cannot respond here. In Rivers State he did it in his office, let him go to his office and respond there.
“Go to your office and respond. Let him go to his office and respond to our protest.”
The drama had continued but Orubebe eventually succumbed to persuasion from security operatives and other persons who intervened.
But he threatened to return if Jega refused to address his grievances.
Afterwards, Jega sought to continue the exercise by calling on the Ebonyi State Collation Officer to continue to render his collated results, but Orubebe, who had held on to the microphone stepped forward again to disrupt the exercise.
Orubebe said, “Prof. Jega you cannot continue. You cannot continue. You said you are going to respond to the issue. Prof. Jega you cannot continue. You cannot. Why is he not responding? Why did he not respond to our protest, why did he not respond to our protest.
“Why is Jega not responding to our protest when it was the APC he was quick to respond? We protested to Jega yesterday (Monday), he threw the protest at us.
“The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria did not empower Jega to be selective, to be partial. Jega is tribalistic and we will not take it. “
At this point, the second PDP agent, Bello Fadile, took the microphone from Orubebe and said, “Chairman sir, I think you should speak on this result we have here (displaying a paper which he said was obtained from the APC website).
“If you compare with the results you have released, it is the same thing with the one that has been released and similar with the one here. We don’t know of the ones that have not been released. The ones that have been released are similar with those from the situation room of the APC. That is our point. Who gave them this? How did they come about this result? We have seen the ones that have been released are the same with those that are here from some of the states. We have compared them and that is why we are raising observations.”
But Jega’s response eventually served as the soothing balm as he calmly and patiently addressed the issues the two party agents raised.
Jega, who went on to debunk the allegations levelled against him by Orubebe that the PDP had submitted a petition to the commission, said the attempt by the party to submit a protest letter to INEC in the middle of collation exercise could not be tolerated.
Jega said, “I cannot receive petitions in this hall on this platform. As we speak with you now, I have not received anything from the secretary of the Commission. That is as far as the so-called petitions.
“With regards about what you said about the result allegedly published by the APC on its websites, I didn’t release result to anybody. The results that are announced formerly by INEC are results that are declared here. And we have warned everybody to be careful and to ensure that they did not declare results which are not officially announced. So, as far as I am concerned, I have not seen any result and I have not given anybody any result. So for you to even engage me on that issue, I think frankly it is not fair on me. I have not seen the result. How can I speak on something I have not seen?”
Jega’s final words appeared to have struck Orubebe and brought him to his seat.
“Mr. Orubebe, you are a former minister of the Federal Republic, you are a statesman in your own right and you must be careful about what you say and about the allegations or accusations that you make and certainly you must be careful about your public conducts. Thank you,”
After Jega said this, Orubebe never attempted to speak again and remained silent till the end of the exercise.
Meanwhile, the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation has urged Nigerians to be watchful of “impending distasteful actions” by agents of the PDP.
It said in a statement by its Director of Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, that the drama orchestrated by Orubebe was the beginning of more sinister things to come.
It said, “We cannot underrate the frustrations of these people, and we anticipate that they will not hesitate to do the unthinkable to subvert the course of the electoral process and, indeed, democracy in the country.
“We wish to alert that Orubebe’s drama aimed at disrupting the announcement of the results of the presidential election is just act one scene one in a plot that has many more acts and scenes ahead. The elements of the drama might involve a breach of law and order.
“We therefore call on Nigerians to be watchful, vigilant, and prayerful and remain resolute to protect our democracy from the machinations of agents-provocateurs.”
Also, the Transition Monitoring Group called for an inquest into Orubebe’s action, saying it was “an act of desperation taken too far.”
The Chairman of TMG, Ibrahim Zikirullahi, said in a statement that the action “caused Nigeria a monumental embarrassment by his unruly behaviour at the centre where he held up announcement of results for several minutes.”
Punch news – culled from: http://www.punchng.com/news/drama-as-orubebe-disrupts-poll-result-declaration/