Unbundle, reform INEC or voter apathy will soar, HURIWA warns

***says Imo gubernatorial poll was ‘African Magic

PRO-democracy and Civil Rights body: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA), has posited that the shameful electoral heists that trailed last weekend’s off-cycle polls in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi, could trigger mass boycott of subsequent elections unless the electoral management body-INEC is unbundled and reformed.

HURIWA said that part of the reform process to reposition the electoral management body would mean that a wholesome overhaul of the legal frameworks on the constitution of the membership of the management of INEC to isolate and free INEC totally from the stranglehold of the executive arm of government and to make appointments of INEC chairman and Commissioners to go through public scrutiny and then appointments should be done an independent body of patriots to be drawn from the public and private sectors. 

HURIWA which also described the speed with which election results in Imo State were collated and announced even when no election took place in about four local government areas in Orlu and Okigwe Senatorial Zones shows that INEC has persisted in electoral crimes because of past impunity.

HURIWA cited a report by YIAGA Africa which monitored the election in Imo state and reported that cases of unverified results uploaded by INEC further claimed that these cases were prevalent in Orsu, Okigwe, Oru East, and Orlu LGAs. Yiaga said it monitored the upload of results on the IReV, especially those from polling units where elections did not hold.For Orsu LGA in Imo, Yiaga Africa’s WTV observers reported that the election did not take place in nine sampled polling units in the LGA. There were speculations that INEC may have relocated all polling units to the LGA headquarters on election day.

HURIWA recalled that Yiaga Africa said voters in Orsu LGA were not informed of the change in polling unit location and INEC failed to issue an official statement on the supposed temporary relocation of polling units. In Okigwe LGA in Imo State, Yiaga Africa observers reported that elections did not occur in eight sampled polling units. “In Oru East LGA, the election was not held in eight of Yiaga Africa’s sampled polling units,” the CSO added. “In addition, elections were not held in seven of our sampled polling units in Orlu LGA and in one (1) of our sampled polling units each in Ideato North, Ikeduru, Oru West and Owerri West LGAs.”

HURIWA  then affirmed that: “INEC is populated by far too many electoral robbers so much so that it will take clinical overhauling of the personnel and the injection of incorruptible and patriotic electoral managers, for prospective voters not to boycott enmasse, any other election to be conducted by the present INEC that is severely ethically challenged and corrupt. INEC as presently constituted, is deeply infested by the bug abd virus of corruption and inefficiency.”

In a media statement by HURIWA, the group canvassed that all committed patriots and lovers of constitutional democracy, must add their voices, to canvass immediate, comprehensive, legal and management unbundling and reforms in the election management body before irreparable damage is done to the psyche and mindsets of registered voters who have faced serial disappointments due to the criminal conduct of the past general and off-cycle polls in the Country by this same mindlessly corrupt and lawless INEC as presently constituted.”

The Rights group which condemned INEC for stealing the gubernatorial election in Imo State for All Progressives Congress (APC), stated that it was a total sham of an election even as the group said that from abundance of evidence, observers noted that as at the time results were announced, IREV is saying only one LGA result has been completed, but INEC has gone out to announce the results of the remaining 26 LGAs. What exactly has happened in Imo? Is like APC has bought the mandate this time, not given by the people! Where then is the sincerity of INEC?” 

HURIWA then tasked the hierarchy of the electoral management body to explain to Nigerians, what exactly has  happened to all the promises it made before the poll? Why did the security operatives connived with non-state actors to truncate the voting process in some of the LGAs? And then, where did INEC get the results it announced for LGAS like Orsu where the election did not hold at all? Then again, how come INEC could quickly collate election results in 27 LGAs of Imo State and declare a winner when it has not been able to collate election results in just 8 local governments in Bayelsa State more than 24hrs after voting ended and still hasnt achieved that by 12 noon on Monday? Isn’t the money-influenced politics at play again? These fundamental posers must be responded to”.

HURIWA, similarly criticised the indecisiveness of INEC in Kogi State for telling Nigerians that the election in many polling units were marred by irregularities and therefore re-run election was imminent. But shortly afterwards INEC awarded victory to Ahmed Usman Ododo, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate who had emerged winner in the estimation of INEC, of the Kogi State governorship election with a total of 446,237 votes. Besides, there were acknowledged cases of pre-written result of Kogu gubernatorial election in circulation before the Saturday election in which the All Progressive Congress candidate was assigned by INEC as the winner or an election that was yet to take place and eventually, INEC proceeded to railroad the same candidate as the winner of their sham of an off-cycle poll in Kogi State.

The Rights group expressed shock that the formal declaration by the Returning Officer, Prof. Johnson Urame, occurred at approximately 10:25 pm on Sunday night just as notably, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had initially considered declaring the election inconclusive due to electoral irregularities, particularly in Ogori Magongo local government area, where the exercise faced suspension.

The Rights group then wondered that subsequently, INEC announced the suspension of the governorship election in certain locations where result sheets were pre-recorded before the voting commenced. In response, INEC suggested the possibility of fresh elections on Saturday, November 18, 2023, in the affected Polling Units of nine wards in Ogori Magongo LGA. 

HURIWA said the information of a postponement was conveyed in a statement issued on Sunday evening by INEC National Commissioner and member, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mohammed Kudu Haruna. Ironically, the electoral umpire contradicted themselves by asserting that the prospect of a rerun hinged on the application of the Margin of Lead Principle by the Returning Officer for the governorship election.

HURIWA recalled that in what is one of the 8 wonders of the World, INEC then asserted that the earlier envisaged rerun aimed to allow the 15,136 voters to cast their votes was put aside following the overwhelming lead of Ododo which they argued made the rerun a theoretical exercise. With Ododo’s lead surpassing this margin, the APC candidate was then declared the winner and governor-elect of Kogi State.

HURIWA then carpeted INEC for announcing the Kogi result even after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had fixed Saturday November 18 for elections to be conducted in 59 polling units in Ogori/Magongo Local Government Area of Kogi State, a decision that INEC spokesman, Mohammed Haruna, conveyed in a media statement on Sunday night.

HURIWA said that in the interest of constitutional democracy,  president Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the National Assembly must put their personal political ambitions by the side and resolve today to deliver to Nigerians, the long sort after critical reforms of INEC so that registered voters are not permanently driven away by the serial electoral misconduct of INEC, to totally stop their participation in subsequent elections in the Country which will inevitably lead to the end of democracy in the Country.


-November 14, 2023 @ 12:45 GMT |