Elections: APC chieftain calls for probe of INEC in Ebonyi
Dr Paul Okorie, a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ebonyi has called for the probe of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the just concluded general elections in Ebonyi.
Okorie made the call on Monday in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abakaliki. He also accused the electoral umpire of performing far below expectations in the conduct of the general elections in Ebonyi. He alleged that the commission colluded with politicians to rig the elections in favour of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
Okorie, who called for urgent probe of the activities of INEC’s ad-hoc staff and other levels of electoral officers involved in the election, added that those found culpable should be prosecuted.
He also alleged widespread irregularities including multiple thumbs printing of ballot papers, intimidation, harassment of opposition, manipulation of election results and other malpractices.
“The elections may have come and gone but the sad lessons learnt is that INEC failed to live up to the promise it made to conduct credible, seamless, free and fair elections.
“There was widespread irregularities ranging from multiple thumb printing, vote buying to under-aged voting, harassment and intimidation of the opposition members by armed political thugs and security operatives.
“There is an urgent need for radical electoral reforms that will purge the system and make our elections not only credible but also allow the outcome of election meet international best standard.
“A situation where people bear arms and ammunition during elections as if they are going to war is completely unacceptable and does not comment well about our electoral process,” he said.
Okorie, former Commissioner for Works and Transportation in the state, alleged that the commission`s officials deployed for the election were part and parcel of the rigging that characterised the election in Ebonyi.
“The permanent staff, the ad-hoc staff and the electoral officers are all culpable because you can’t rig an election without their active connivance.
“The Resident Electoral Commissioner and his top officials, they all know what happened and if God comes down today, can any of them boldly stand and say I did not compromise,” he said.
He called for a change of orientation among political stakeholders, discontinuation of political desperation and win-at-all cost mentality by political office seekers.
Okorie commended President Muhammadu Buhari for assuring the nation that his administration would leave a legacy of free and fair elections.
”I align myself with the promise and assurances of Mr President that one of the key legacies that he will strive to bequeath to Nigeria is free and fair elections before his administration winds up in 2023.
“Free, fair and credible electoral process is required to build strong and virile democracy where those who are elected into power are elected on the basis of integrity, popularity and their ability to deliver good governance,” he added.
Reacting to the allegations, Prof. Godswill Obioma, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Ebonyi, dismissed the allegation of staff of the commission colluding with politicians to rig the election.He urged aggrieved politicians to channel their grievances to the appropriate quarters.
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