In 2015, the International Conference Center, venue of the announcement of results witnessed big drama, when one of the agents of President Goodluck Jonathan, decided to arrest the announcements of elections results by verbally attacking the process and the then Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega. There was tension and palpable fears
In 2015, the International Conference Center, venue of the announcement of results witnessed big drama, when one of the agents of President Goodluck Jonathan, decided to arrest the announcements of elections results by verbally attacking the process and the then Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega. There was tension and palpable fears that the entire process may be truncated with the nation thrown into crisis of monumental proportion. That didn’t happen but it was a high-stake drama.
The ICC is Abuja’s flagship event and conference center – the International Conference Center,(ICC) noted for hosting grade ‘A’ events is an architecture masterpiece. The red and green carpets at ICC are meant for top notch events, attended by only the high and mighty in the society. The ICC, the multimillion-edifice built in 1980 by former President Ibrahim Babangida is already looking like a security zone. A peep through the two giant gates of the Center reveals heavy presence of Police, the Department of State Services and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC)men and officers.
At 2:00pm some policemen, dressed in neat uniforms were seen sitting down on the lawn at the eastern part of the Center. Majority of them had travelling bags placed beside them. The situation changed slightly, shortly after the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC),Prof. Mahmood Yakubu held the inaugural press briefing for the election.
The leader of what looks like four platoons was seen addressing his officers and men posted for the essential duty of maintaining law and order at the National Collation Centre for the 2023 general election. With the caliber and mental configuration of security men, particularly, the police at the venue of the National Collation Center, a man in the mood of former Minister, Elder Godsday Orubebe may think twice before displaying the act of rascality on Saturday or Sunday.
Indeed the IGP counselled the INEC Chairman to display the patience of Professor Attahiru Jega should another “Orubebe’ appear during the Collation of results. Entering the Center on Thursday was not difficult as the secret policemen at the entrance and their police counterparts were keen in showing the foreign observers that security men in Nigeria could be civil.
Two LED screens and four big speakers were placed at the entrance of the Africa hall of the Center, perhaps to relay events at the African hall to those who may not be privileged to enter the hall. According to Mr. Abdullahi Akeem, the brand person who constructed the stage and effected the branding work at the ICC for the National Collation Centre, 2023 general election on behalf of Doxa media, it took him and six others two days to set up the stage and the interior decoration of the hall. Finishing touches would be given to the hall on Friday.
Aside the two three meters by two meters LED screen placed outside the gallon Thursday, Mr. Abdullahi said two others would be placed inside the hall- one directly behind where the INEC Chairman would sit. He said the stage and all the interior decoration would remain till after the conclusion of the declaration of results.
Some minutes after 7:00pm, a police pick – up van was used to block the right side of the Olusegun Obasanjo street, off Moshood Abiola street in Area 10, Abuja. Vehicles coming from Moshood Abiola street heading towards Olusegun Obasanjo street had to drive one way this causing a little traffic holdup
Few meters after the vehicle is the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) headquarters. It shares boundary with the INEC Federal Capital Territory ( FCT) headquarters. Policemen in four or more squads could be seen were seen in front of AMAC headquarters and in front of INEC FCT headquarters. Some pick-up vehicles were deliberately parked to create obstacles and slow down the speed of any vehicle approaching the facility.
About six big trucks were parked on the road in front of the INEC headquarters. It was not clear whether they were carrying the sensitive materials the INEC Chairman said are being distributed to the states during his briefing earlier on Thursday.
During the press briefing by Prfessor Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC boss, the audio system in the Collation Centre malfunctioned giving some journalists and observers cause for concern but the electoral boss explained that those in charge of fixing the sound system and other things in the Collation Centre had given the Commission Friday for handing over the hall but he insisted in using it for the press briefing. Today, the Public Address System worked perfectly well.
The Inspector General of Police ( IGP) Usman Alkali Baba is joined the INEC Chairman to brief journalists and observers on Friday on the security arrangement for the elections. It appears all is set for the election and the historic ICC will be the venue where the winner will be announced.
A Recall of the Orubebe Saga
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 States 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 Major 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 in you 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.
It was a high drama that lasted hours. It was also a battle of wits between the PDP agents, especially Orubebe and the Chairman of INEC. It is the expectation that this year’s election results announcement will not get to that temperature though tension is high with different polls predicting different winners for the election.
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