Former Chairman of defunct National Electoral Commission, NEC, Prof Humphrey Nwosu, has said his most challenging task, conducting the June 12, 1993 presidential election was his inability to announce the result.
In an exclusive interview with Vanguard, Nwosu said effort by the military to annul the election was because Abacha had interest of becoming the Head of State.
“The inability to declare the winner of June 12 presidential election was the most challenging task for me. There were a series of obstacles against the election. There was a court ruling on June 10, 1993, at 9:30 pm that there should not be an election. There wouldn’t have been an election following that court decision.
"I felt it was not in order and Nigerians would not be happy, because we had successfully conducted the governorship elections with Option A4 in December 1991. In 1992, we conducted the National Assembly election and June 12 was the last election to establish the Third Republic. I tried to reach out to the President, Vice President and Attorney General of the Federation, AFG, but it was not successful.
"I later met the AGF, who told me that the Supreme Military Council would meet at 10: am on June 11 but I was not invited as the Chief Electoral Officer of the country. I decided to attend the meeting uninvited not minding the risks involved.
“Those who blamed me for not announcing the final official results do not know that, without me, there couldn’t have been June 12 election. I called the Director of Legal Service of NEC, who asked if I was invited and I said no. When we got to the gate of the Villa, they thought I was invited and allowed us to go in. That was the reason I said that God made June 12 possible.
"I arrived before the AGF and they were surprised to see me. President Babangida, Abacha, and others were there. They asked why I came and I replied that the next day would be June 12. They asked if I was not aware of the court order, I said it cannot prevent us from holding the election. When the President asked why, I reminded him that he had once asked a former AGF, Justice Bola Ajibola and I to find a solution to the spate of court injunctions that would have derailed the transition to civil rule programme.
"We came up with a solution that once a date has been fixed for an election, no court should stop us. But he said it had been challenged and upheld by the Federal Court of Appeal in Ibadan. I said that Abuja High Court cannot stop us. At that point, the AGF walked in saying I should obey the law. There was an argument which I challenged.
“I explained it in details in my book, Laying Foundation for Nigeria’s Democracy. I told Mr. President to tell me to inform Nigerians if elections would not hold tomorrow, June 12, because I was ready to conduct the election but there was complete silence. Abacha interjected saying we should postpone it for a week but I told him that sensitive materials had been distributed across the country.
"President Babangida asked if I was sure I would succeed and I said yes. That is why I commend Babangida. The military was divided. Some wanted the election to take place while others didn’t want it and I felt that Abacha wanted to have a stint as President."