THE Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has emphasized that the off-circle gubernatorial polls in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi States will be procured by the highest bidders since the electronic transmission of results in real time has been sabotaged by both the election petition courts and top officials of the electoral body including the crooked decision on it by both the presidential election petition tribunal and the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Besides, HURIWA has expressed sadness that the National Assembly has not deemed it necessary to speedily amend the extant electoral Act to make it mandatory for electronic transmission of results from polling units to become legalised. Also, HURIWA said it is inconceivable that the off-circle governorship poll in Imo State will be transparent when INEC has refused to redeploy the Resident Electoral Commissioner who is allegedly linked biologically to the Deputy National Chairman of the All Progressive Congress. HURIWA said the electoral body has done nothing substantial to instil the trust and gain the confidence of voters in those three states on their resolve to be fair, accountable and transparent.
In a media statement by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA stated emphatically that there is a conspiratorial plot by the elite in INEC, National Assembly and the hierarchy of the nation’s judiciary, to perpetuate electoral heists which explains the impediments mounted against the legalization of the electronic transmission of results in real time.
The Rights group has therefore asked INEC to stop engaging in self-deceit by thinking that the use of sophistry can convince any sane Nigerian that the manipulations and electoral crimes committed by INEC on a National scale during the general election, wouldn’t be replicated in the off-circle elections.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko said; “We have watched with unfathomable amazement, the attempt, by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to once more hood wink Nigerian voters in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa States into believing their propaganda that “all the glitches experienced during the general elections of February 2023 had been taken care of”.
According to HURIWA, “we are aware that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, expressed its readiness to conduct the November 11th governorship election in Bayelsa, Kogi, and Imo states, respectively. INEC Acting Director, Voter Education and Publicity, Mary Nkem, gave this assurance at a People’s Townhall on Election Security in Abuja. Nkem said all the glitches experienced during the general elections earlier in the year had been taken care of. She said INEC has put a lot of plans in place to guarantee early deployment of sensitive materials to polling units, including ad hoc officers camping near polling units a day before the exercise. “Rather than people moving from the local government headquarters to the various polling units, they are moved closer to the PUs (polling units) where they are going to work. So, I can assure you that, God willing, we will deploy early,”
HURIWA has however dismissed INEC’s re-assurance as mere paper weight going by the fact that around September 16th 2022, INEC had told Nigerians that it was committed to the deployment of the bimodal voter registration system (BVAS) and IREV for the 2023 election and to transmit the results of all elections electronically but INEC failed to fulfill this promise during the general poll as only the National Assembly election results were eventually uploaded, thus refusing to do same for the Presidential poll and when it got to the Election Petition Tribunal, INEC argued that it wasn’t legally obliged to so do and the court glibly conceded to this claim by INEC which stands in contrast to the verbal commitment made by INEC before the conduct of the last General election.
HURIWA recalled that BVAS is a device introduced by INEC which allows accreditation of voters through biometric capturing, uploading of polling results and other functions.
HURIWA stated further that just before the 2023 poll, there were speculations that INEC will discard these technology but INEC through its then spokesman Festus Okoye said the use of BVAS has been captured by the electoral Act.
His words: “The BVAS is domiciled within the confines of the Electoral Act of 2022 and we do not have any fear whatsoever in relations to the validity and legality of the BVAS and other technological and electronic devices we are using for elections,” Okoye said. “The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has given INEC the exclusive right, power and mandate to organise, undertake and supervise elections that are captured within the confines of the constitution. “We are accountable to the people of this country and the people have accepted the BVAS as a game changer in our electoral process.
INEC through Okoye had vowed thus: “We cannot, under any circumstances, go back in the use of BVAS for the purpose of voter accreditation and we can’t also go back on the issue of transmitting polling unit level results into our INEC result viewing portal.“These two mechanisms and protocols are sacrosanct and the commission is committed to using them during the 2023 general election.”
HURIWA also carpeted the Presidential election petition tribunal for voiding electronic transmission of results when it erroneously ruled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is at liberty to determine its mode of transmitting election results.
Haruna Tsammani, chairman of the tribunal, on Wednesday, cited the judgment of a federal high court in suit FHC/ABJ/CS/1454/2022 delivered on January 23, 2023.
Tsammani said the judgment subsists since the Labour Party (LP) has failed to appeal against it.
He also ruled that Peter Obi, candidate of the Labour Party (LP), could not establish that INEC deliberately failed to upload results to the IReV in order to manipulate the election result in favour of Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the February polls.
Tsammani added that the petitioners did not prove how they were affected by the failure of INEC to electronically transmit the results.
“The petitioners have failed to prove substantial non-compliance with the provision of the Electoral Act,” he said.
The LP and its candidate had approached the tribunal to challenge the victory of Tinubu over the delay in the electronic transmission of results by INEC, among other issues.
HURIWA therefore expressed strong reservations that the current hierarchy of INEC can convince any voter of their commitment to a transparent election so long as the electronic transmission of election results in real time is not unambiguously legalised in the electoral Act.
Also, HURIWA said it will be another wonder of the World if the ethically challenged electoral management body can deliver transparent, free and fair poll given the ambivalence of the officials regarding the adoption of use of technology such as transmission of election results in real time but would rather opt for manual collation which gives room for manipulations and electoral heists.
-November 06, 2023 @ 16:33 GMT |