March 18 Polls: CLO urges INEC to use opportunity to redeem image, restore people’s confidence

Independent National Electoral Commission

THE Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to use the opportunity provided by the March 18 polls to redeem its image and restore people’s confidence in the commission.

The Chairman of CLO in Anambra, Mr Vincent Ezekwueme, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu on Saturday that the commission performed abysmally low in areas of election management that it already perfected before the Feb. 25 polls.

Ezekwueme also decried many flaws in the Feb. 25 polls, adding that it had led to its unprecedented condemnation and rejection; thus “throwing the entire country in a mourning mood where truth and fairness are ‘murdered’.”

“Legitimacy of every government comes from people’s votes, hence the electoral umpire must ensure in words and actions that peoples’ votes count.

“They (INEC) should probe the systematic and scientific disenfranchisement of people of South-East, during Presidential and National Assembly elections in which voting started unprecedentedly very late between 1 p.m. instead of 8:30a.m.

“It is detestable and condemnable that nearly 50 per cent of voters did not vote and that INEC officials deceived them that any vote cast beyond 6p.m. will not be uploaded in INEC server,” he said.

Ezekwueme noted that INEC must be impartial, unbiased, unblemished and above board in discharge of their constitutional duties.

According to him, if the outcome of the last presidential election is not transparently, patriotically and holistically resolved through justice and truth; it might lead to unprecedented voter apathy, indifference and undernourishment of our democracy.

“It is pertinent to note that restoration and rekindling of peoples’ faith, hope, trust and confidence in the electoral process is a task that must be done.

“But INEC should take the lead by ensuring that people’s votes count, the outcome of every election reflects the wishes and aspirations of the majority of the electorate.

“INEC, NOA, CSOs and stakeholders should, without delay, swing into action and convince the citizenry to take active part in subsequent elections.

“The electoral umpire should also guarantee credible, free, fair and generally acceptable elections that must meet international standards,” he added.

NAN recalls that INEC has scheduled March 18 for Governorship and State House of Assembly Elections in the country.  (NAN)