Protesters under the aegis of Free Nigeria Movement on Tuesday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to annul the February 25 presidential election and set up an interim government pending the conduct of a fresh election.
The group also called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of Prof Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for allegedly supervising what they described as a fraudulent presidential election.
They made the demand during a protest to the INEC headquarters in Abuja.
Convener of the FNM, Moses Ogidi-Paul, who spoke on behalf of the group, expressed their displeasure over the conduct of the February 25 presidential election.
His speech in full: “On the 25th of February, 2023, Nigerians trooped to their polling units with one mission, to cast their ballots and choose their next leaders.
“Our binding lines were unbroken: in ideology, they held us together; in trust, they washed us like water; in truth, they kept us alive. We breathed the full breadth of what being citizens should be in a progressive secular society. So, when the day finally arrived, we had no doubt in our hearts, in the portion that always questions truths, that our votes must count. But nothing could bolster our belief like the assurances by Mr President, Muhammadu Buhari, and INEC chairman, Prof Yakubu Mahmoud.
“Recall that a little over a year ago, President Muhammadu Buhari appended his signature to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022. The fanfare that greeted that appendment can well claim recognition as one of the most colourful in our recent history due to its unbroken allegiance to the Nigerian spirit. On that day, we were neither Igbo, Hausa nor Yoruba. We were not Efik, Tiv or Urhobo. No, we were not Gbagyi, Kanuri or Ijaw. On that day, we were Nigerians full of the positive energies of our land.
“I hate to announce that today in the heart of some, all this has gone to waste. You may have seen the video of the diasporan who tore his passport. Some other Nigerians have done the same to the fabric of identity because INEC through Prof. Yakubu Mahmoud chose to silence their voice.
“So I ask, “What is the value of democracy if the process that recruits its leaders consistently lacks credibility?” Perhaps, the answer is at the International Conference Center where Prof Yakubu Mahmoud began, sustained and concluded the collation and declaration of a candidate as winner of the presidential election based on falsehood contravening its guidelines and the Electoral Act.
“It is most disturbing that this was done in the full glare of the world. Never has our democracy been so sorely abused by any citizen in either public or private service. Prof. Yakubu Mahmoud has raised a bar of impunity that will cost our country many years of electoral excellence to correct.
“This was not the electronic transmission he promised Nigerians and the world at Chatham House. Prof Yakubu Mahmoud has lied to Nigerians and abused our right of choice.
“We pass a vote of no confidence and call for his immediate sack and prosecution. We cannot afford to continue the culture of performing lawlessness without consequences. We are as strong as our laws and as tall as our institutions. We cannot afford to descend any lower than this.
“We, therefore, call on President Muhammadu Buhari, whose commitment to free and fair elections is engraved in the legacy of the Electoral Act 2022, to initiate processes and procedures that will bring Nigeria under the control of an interim government pending the resolution of all litigations pertaining to the conduct of the February 25 presidential election.
“Our country needs healing. It will be counterproductive to allow a fraudulent process to subsist as fraud will eternally birth fraud. We cannot grow our democracy on falsehood and suspicion.
“The holes in our national fabric must be woven shut. One way is to immediately establish a Truth and Reconciliation Committee in Lagos State and other flashpoints of voter intimidation and violence during the presidential, National Assembly, governorship and State Assembly elections. This will help build trust, confidence and further ethnic cooperation among Nigerians.”