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Investigate Ekiti Rigging Audio Tape – Soyinka
Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka has called for an investigation into the Ekiti rigging audio tape, which is being touted as evidence of collusion between top notch members of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and military commanders to rig the June 21, 2014 governorship election in which Ayo Fayose emerged winner.
In a statement released Tuesday, the Nobel Laureate urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to work with the international community to conduct the investigation and make the findings of the exercise known to save Nigeria’s democracy, reasoning that brushing the issue aside as “just electoral malpractice” would be equal to criminal subversion and treason.
News of the secret meeting emerged a few weeks ago when an army captain, Sagir Koli, leaked the recording of a discussion involving Fayose, a former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, PDP governorship candidate in Osun State, Iyiola Omisore, the Minister of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan; his predecessor, Caleb Olubolade and army commander, Aliyu Momoh, a brigadier general.
The trio of Adesiyan, Omisore and Fayose have since admitted their presence at the meeting but they insisted that election rigging was not the motive while Obanikoro insisted that he did not attend any such meeting.
Stating that for those who have nothing to hide, disrobing lies and forgeries and reinforcing truth is regarded as part and parcel of the obligations owed to democracy, Soyinka asserted that while the audio recording might indeed be a forgery, the burden of proof lies on the principal actors featured in the recording.
“The audio may well be a forgery. We are daily inundated with allegations, evasions, distortions, image plundering and image laundering, all under the permissive canopy of electoral proceeding.
“Once in a while, however, we encounter exposure of an exceptional dimension that appears to strike at the very root of Democracy, questions the validity of an entire electoral system and even erodes confidence in the integrity of the state,” Soyinka stated.
Explaining why he is constrained to call on INEC to investigate the incident, Soyinka stated that the event should be perceived as an extension of the electoral umpire’s scope of responsibilities, and that a full investigation would help the body in its projection of looming hazards of future electoral exercises.
“This is why, in the absence of a Constitutional Court or its equivalent, one is left with no other course than to call on INEC to also take formal charge of the recorded incident of this alleged conspiracy to pervert the course of Democracy,” he stated.
Soyinka also called for the active participation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in the investigation because according to him, the main facilitator of electoral manipulation is money.
“At the fount of all electoral manipulation is the grim facilitator – Money! Here, for instance, is a lesson drawn from the travails of a former Inspector-General of Police in recent history,” he said.
He stated further, “Allied to this elite criminal corps – again, as alleged – was a former Chairman of the Senate Appropriation Committee turned governorship candidate.
“The evidence resides in the recording of a conspiracy against free and fair elections, later reinforced by a televised interview with the whistle blower – a military intelligence officer.”
The Nobel Laureate stated that if the formal agencies fail, then citizens must learn to assert their right of access to truth by following the practice in other societies, in which a Citizens Trial could be instituted, experts co-opted, and both accusers and accused invited to testify.
However, President Goodluck Jonathan, who is reported to have dismissed the audio recording as “mere fabrication” when the news of the recording emerged, has proffered explanations on why the tape could not be investigated and why he referred to the tape as a fabrication.
Admitting that he had not even listened to the tape, the president stated that he originally dismissed it as a fabrication, despite admissions from key actors that the meeting actually held, because the person who recorded it did so to achieve a particular purpose and could have manipulated the discussion.
The president further clarified that his statement was not a denial of the fact that meeting was held but a rejection of the insinuation that the purpose of the meeting was to perfect rigging plans.
“I am not saying that a meeting in question was held or not held, but the issue of conspiring to rig, I said it was a fabrication,” he said.
The president also explained that the non-appearance of Sagir Koli and his reluctance to come forward and authenticate the tape is the reason why relevant agencies cannot commence investigation into the matter.
Speaking with Thisday newspaper, the President stated that he inquired from the director general of the Department of State Security, DSS, if the agency was investigating the matter, but was told that investigation could not proceed because Koli, who went underground after he was tipped off about the order from the army hierarchy to arrest him, has not come forward to validate the audio recording.
“In fact, when this story came up, I asked the DG Department of State Security Service if they had investigated the matter, and he told me that they had some investigations, and then called for the person who claimed he recorded it and that he disappeared and nobody can reach him.
“There was no formal petition before them, but because of the general interest, they wanted to have him interviewed to know where this was coming from. If someone comes up with a spurious allegation that has no substance and the person disappears, of course, what do you want me to do? Definitely, anytime we get him, he’ll have to substantiate his allegations. There is a lot of false stories being circulated and it is very sad,” the President stated.