Resign, South, M’Belt Alliance, CSOs tell INEC boss, Mahmood Yakubu
• Say Commission failed integrity test in presidential election
The Southern and Middle Belt Alliance (SaMBA) has asked Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to resign immediately.
In a statement, signed by its spokesperson, Prince Rwang Pam Jr., SaMBA said Yakubu and the INEC leadership, “either by omission or commission or both, have conducted an election that has been unanimously rejected as not being free, fair or credible by international and local observers as well as majority of Nigerians.”
The group, however, noted that Saturday’s governorship and state Houses of Assembly polls “present INEC an opportunity to redeem part of its battered image. It is, therefore, expected that the Commission should publicly expunge its temporary and permanent staff and agents suspected to have been compromised or found incompetent.”
It added: “Bold actions, like these, are likely to assure Nigerians that their votes would count during the March 11, 2023 elections. INEC has a moral responsibility to buy back the confidence and trust of the Nigerian electorate.
“INEC must prove to Nigerians and the international community that it had not deliberately compromised the presidential elections by explaining convincingly and truthfully, why results in failed to upload on the INEC server as promised repeatedly by the Commission – what the problem was and steps it has taken to ensure that all results will be uploaded during this weekend’s elections.”
This came as a coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) staged a peaceful protest, calling on Yakubu to resign. The coalition, which comprised 18 organisations, marched to the precincts of the INEC headquarters in Abuja, where it also demanded immediate probe of Commission’s chairman for allegedly failing Nigerians in the presidential election.
Led by Comrade Dada Olayinka, the coalition maintained that Nigerians would not accept the imposition of a compromised election on the nation. Members of the coalition include: Civil Society Forum of Nigeria; Nigeria Youth Development Forum; Democratic Youth Initiative; Forum for Social Justice; Movement for the Development of Democracy; and Safeguard Nigeria Movement.
Others are: Alliance for People’s Welfare; Forward Nigeria Movement; Human Right Crusaders; Defenders of Democracy; Democratic Rights Assembly; and Voter’s Rights Assembly.
A statement by the coalition notes: “INEC claimed the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) technology was going to be effectively deployed to forestall rigging and over-voting. These were major pillars upon which Nigerians anchored their excitement and belief in the process of electing their leaders.
“However, events during and after the elections would later prove that INEC performed below expectations and pulled the wool over the eyes of Nigerians. Over 93.5 million Nigerians were registered for the February 2023 election; only 23 per cent of the total figure was able to vote. This is lower than previous elections.
“While many had hoped to maximally utilise the use of BVAS technology for easy accreditation and eventual voting, thereby, increasing participation, the technology was either deployed late or bypassed in many polling units, disenfranchising a large majority. In many other areas, people who had arrived polling units ahead of time couldn’t enjoy voting rights due to non- functionality or inexperienced operation of the BVAS by largely untrained adhoc staff.
“In view of above, it is obvious that INEC deceived Nigerians into believing it was ready for the election, whereas the Commission was ill prepared, despite over N300 billion naira of tax payers’ money received to conduct the elections.”
SIMILARLY, Conference of Northern States’ Civil Society Networks faulted conduct of the presidential and National Assembly elections, accusing INEC of failing to live up to its commitment in uploading electoral results.
Addressing journalists at the end of an emergency meeting in Kano, Chairman of the Conference, Comrade Ibrahim Waiya, lamented pockets of electoral misconduct and late arrival of materials at some polling units.
He said although the election was relatively peaceful across Kano, it further polarised the nation along ethnic and religious lines. He cautioned INEC to correct all anomalies and stick to provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 to guarantee a credible poll on March 11.