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Southern, Middle Belt leaders urge INEC to resist rigging

By Seye Olumide
31 December 2018   |   4:16 am
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to resist pressure from those allegedly bent on compromising the 2019 elections.

Chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, disclosed this at a public hearing on ‘Vote Buying and Improving Electoral Processes in Nigeria’, conducted by the National Assembly Joint Committee on INEC in Abuja

• Alert Nigerians to possible use of foreign manipulators
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to resist pressure from those allegedly bent on compromising the 2019 elections.

The leaders also alerted Nigerians to the possibility of foreign collaborators assisting some desperate politicians currently in government to tamper with the results of the elections to the advantage of a particularly party and candidate.

In a statement yesterday, spokesmen of the forum, Mr. Yinka Odumakin (Southwest), Prof. Chigozie Ogbu (Southeast), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South South) and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt) said the leaders’ attention had been drawn to media reports on Sunday that the commission had come under pressure to delete the electronic transmission of results from the polling units to a central server and the pasting of results at the polling units in the proposed guidelines for the 2019 elections in sync with the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill passed by the National Assembly.

The forum said if the reports were true, it might just confirm the fear that the perpetual boasting by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and its allies of victory in the 2019 presidential polls, even before it holds, is not based on winning the hearts of the people but through underhand means.

“Rigging usually starts with the changing of results announced by the polling officers. Though party agents are expected to countersign results but the refusal of any agent to sign does not invalidate the results .This allows compromised polling officers to change figures between the polling units and the ward collation centers.”

The forum urged INEC to be mindful of the fact that the credibility of the conduct of the 2019 elections has a lot to do with the continued existence of Nigeria as a country and, therefore, must be above board like Caesar’s wife.

“INEC must use form EC 60E which will contain the scores of every candidate at every polling unit which must be pasted at every unit and transmitted to a central server by the presiding officer in the presence of agents,” it says.

The leaders said Nigerians should be on the alert as some forces may already be in talks with some foreign mercenaries to interfere with the electoral process, citing a publication by The Nation of Kenya of December 23,2018 titled: “Eyebrows raised over mystery Russian Plane at Wilson”.

The report stated that some 30 minutes to the closure of Wilson Airport on December 17, a twin-engine plane touched down at Khartoum, Sudan. Five people were on board the British-manufactured Hawker 800XP registration M-VITO, according to the Director General of Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority, Gilbert Kibe.

What raised the red flag about the plane’s movement was that the particular aircraft is reportedly owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, 57, a shadowy Russian and Kremlin insider with close links to President Vladmir Putin and whose name has prominently featured in the ongoing investigations into the 2016 U.S. election meddling by agents of Moscow.

Prigozhin has been accused of being behind the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Russian troll factory that spearheaded the efforts to meddle in the 2016 US elections.

The forum said its fear was that Prigozhin was being whispered to have come into Nigeria through the Chadian President in the course of these moves in relation to the 2019 elections in the country, and on that note, demanded a categorical statement from the Nigerian government to assure the citizens that our electoral process is not about to fall into the hands of foreign manipulators.