Photo: Prof Humphrey Nwosu, ex-INEC boss
How Abacha, Babangida, others conspired to annul June 12 election -Prof Nwosu
Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, the former Chairman of the National Electoral Commission, has named the culprits who conspired to annul Nigeria’s June 12, 1993 presidential election.
Nwosu, who conducted the June 12 election, identified former Senate President David Mark as one of those who scuttled the poll.
Others identified include former Chief of Naval Staff, Murtala Nyako and General Aliyu Gusau, with the backing of former dictator Ibrahim Babangida and General Sani Abacha.
Nwosu narrated to Sahara TV shocking details of how the election was annulled by the military junta led by Babangida on the sideline of the launch of his book, ‘Laying the Foundation for Nigeria’s Democracy: My Account of June 12’.
He narrated the events that unfolded before and after the June 12 presidential election won by Chief Moshood Abiola of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Nwosu recounted how he was served a court order from the Abuja High Court not to release the election results when it remained only results from Taraba State to conclude the election and announce the winner.
Nwosu said, “From June 16, 1993, we were promised that if the elections were to be conducted free and fair, accepted by the international and local observers, we would be given national honours. So, my colleagues were also working very hard as Nigerians.
“When, according to our efforts, in spite of all the problems and restrictions, June 12 came and the election was conducted, it was peaceful. Materials were distributed all over Nigeria promptly, in difficult terrains because of the arrangement we made and the logistics preparation we put in place.
“When the results started coming in on June 13th, 14th; in fact, it was to be concluded around June 17th, 18th, NRC (National Republican Convention) had already congratulated SDP (Social Democratic Party) for winning.
“Suddenly, the commissioner of police served me a letter from court that we should cease forthwith in releasing the results. On June 16, I summoned an emergency meeting of the commission. All the results had come in except that of Taraba and the Resident Electoral Commissioner from Delta, Prof. Osada was on his way to bring the results. We would have released the results on June 17th but they said ‘stop’.
“I was called in a meeting of the National Defence and Security Council. They asked me, ‘Will you release these results without our knowing?’ I said that is the law. No provision for the highest ruling military body to vet the results. The law says that we should announce the results at each level – polling station, ward, local government, state and headquarters.
“In fact, almost every person, owing to the communication we put in place, could collate to know that Abiola had won.
“My commission met and we decided that we would challenge that ruling by the Abuja High Court. Then, I was summoned to the National Defence and Security Council headed by Babangida and Abacha.”
Speaking further, Nwosu said, “They said that a committee headed by Abacha should find a solution to the problem. I said we should be allowed to conclude what we started.”
According to him, “In that committee, Abacha was in it, Murtala Nyako was in it, General Aliyu Gusau was in it, David Mark was in it. David Mark was the Minister of Communication. I was in it. Secretary of the commission, director of legal services, Prof. Ideria – National Commissioner representing Rivers State were in it.
“When we met in Abacha’s house in Abuja, he (Abacha) set another sub-committee including myself, late Akpangbo, Akiko, the Secretary of the commission and one adviser in law in the State House.”
He said that at the sub-committee level, he told them that the law is clear, that the election had been conducted and results had been collected, hence, they should be allowed to conclude, because they were a technical body and not politicians.
He narrated that he told them that “in any case, if you don’t want us to release the results, call Abiola and Tofa to negotiate with Abiola”.
“Abiola was the winner,” he said.
“We went back to Abacha and I told him that the law that allowed us to conduct the election made no provision for your committee. Allow us to conclude the results from Taraba and announce it or call Abiola and negotiate with him.
“He (Babangida) shouted at me, ‘Who are you to tell us what to do? You are not a member of the National Defence and Security Council. Court decided that you should not conduct the election but you went ahead and conducted the election. It was illegal. Go to Aso Rock where all of us will take a decision on what will happen.’
“I was to call my secretary to invite all my national commissioners to Aso Rock. It was David Mark who was then the Minister of Communication, who called myself, Andrew Mana.
“We went to Aso Rock on June 18th and it was a full meeting. Babangida asked, ‘NEC, what is your position on this election?’ I asked for two minutes to meet with my commissioners so that it will not be Humphrey Nwosu’s decision but that of NEC.
“We decided that they should allow us to conclude and announce the results. Whoever did not like the outcome should go to the tribunal, according to the provision of the law. We told Babangida our decision and that we will challenge the court decision that the Commissioner of Police served on me.
“He (Babangida) said, ‘you people are on your own.’ That was their decision. The Attorney General would have championed our going to court but he did not. It was the Director of Legal Services in NEC, Buhari Bello, who went to the Kaduna Court of Appeal and filed the papers.
“We submitted all the results including that of Taraba showing that Abiola won the election. Abiola was represented by A. K. Ajayi. Tofa was represented. The court held its first sitting. The late Justice Okay Achike who chaired the court was ready to conclude. He ordered the Abuja High Court to submit all matters relating to the election and all the results to his court for accelerated hearing and decision for June 25, 1993.
“All the results were submitted to the court. When the court was to announce its decision on June 25th, the military quickly dissolved my commission on June 23.”