2019 elections: Intersociety petitions INEC, other stakeholders •Lists pitfalls

Posted by News Express | 30 November 2017 | 1,583 times

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•Intersociety Board Chairman Emeka Umeagbalasi

The International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) has petitioned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) highlighting challenges encountered during the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State, as well as possible dangers awaiting the 2019 general elections.

In a statement on Wednesday by its Board Chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi; Head of Good Governance Programme, Chinwe Umeche; and Head of Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Programme, Obianuju Igboeli, Intersociety revealed that there were calls and massive campaign for the boycott of the governorship election in Anambra State.

It said its finding was based on its capacity as a leading Civil Society Organisation based in the Southeast, and having played a leading role in the pre-election and election day advocacy in the election.

Intersociety said there were also threats of violence by election boycott advocates against the voting population, poor handling of the threats by security agencies leading to fear and apprehension especially among independent and elite voters, creation of psychological insecurity by way of militarisation of the state in the name of election security, as well as election security corrupt practices by way of roadblock extortion, among other factors.

Others flaws in the election, according to the rights group, were over-publicity regarding poll security deployment of war-like combatants and arsenal, thereby heightening and escalating fear and panic among the already traumatised voting population, over-spending of public funds on poll security deployment, non issuance of permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) to over 350,000 registered and indiscriminate sharing of cash and other inducements (voter procurement) to lure and influence voters to the tune of an estimated average of N500,000 spent in each of the state’s 4,608 polling booths.

The other factors were general and repetitive low participation by PVC-armed voting population, which had been a recurring decimal in Nigeria in general and Anambra State in particular; possible scientific manipulation of figures or rigging of the poll by alarming number of invalid or rejected votes to the tune of 26,457 out of 448,771 total votes cast; generation of 8,540 accredited but un-voted voters or total number of those who were accredited but never voted despite their acceptance by INEC Smart Card Readers and the Commission’s policy of ‘simultaneous accreditation and voting’; strongly suspected uploading of thousands, if not tens of thousands of names as ‘already voted voters’ and their perfection using fake thumb printed ballot papers perfected during election hours.

“It is recalled that there were reported cases of ‘buying and selling’ of PVCs especially in rural parts of Anambra State as well as forceful demand for their original or photocopies from some, if not many civil servants in Anambra State. Such cases were also reported in urban residential areas, especially during weekends and weekdays (morning and evening hours). Vulnerable and immoral owners of PVCs are induced or forced to surrender their PVCs or allow their serial numbers to be copied; with their passports taken in many cases.

“Others, particularly the civil servants were threatened with victimisation if they refused to submit their PVCs or photocopies of same to ‘appropriate quarters’ for undisclosed reasons. Through this criminal exercise, thousands, if not tens of thousands of PVCs and their sensitive serial numbers were collected. It is strongly suspected that the criminal activity was discretely coordinated and perfected by criminal syndicate operating from INEC’s National and Anambra ICT departments.

“We further suspect strongly that the 8,540 ‘accredited voters’ who never voted in the Anambra 2017 governorship election are part of ‘the uploaded voted voters’ who never neared polling booths on election day but were scientifically counted as successful voters’. This large number (8,540) may most likely have been declared as ‘accredited un-voted voters’ because time ran out of those who were hired to fake them and level their numbers using fake thumb printed ballot papers.

“It is also a general knowledge that it is more difficult to be manually and electronically (via card reader) accredited than to vote. The clear implication of this is that, if the above is true, then only the INEC’s ICT syndicate and its favoured political party and its candidate know the actual number of ‘successfully uploaded’ fake voted voters perfected with fake thumb printed ballot papers on election day. If true, it may most likely be in tens of thousands.

“It is further recalled that the authorities of INEC had during the announcement of the result of  the Anambra 2017 Governorship Election on 19th November 2017, declared as follows: (a) total registered voters in Anambra – 2,064,134, (b) total accredited voters – 457,311, (c) total votes cast – 448,771, (d) total valid votes – 422,314 and (e) total invalid or rejected votes – 26,457. This clearly shows that out of 457,311 citizens that were accredited who ought to have voted immediately after accreditation, only 448,771 voted while 8,540 never voted despite being accredited.

"Non issuance of PVCs and low voter turnout in Anambra especially in governorship poll have become a recurring decimal in Anambra State. This had been on since 2003 when Peter Obi presumably won with 235,000 popular votes out of the total registered population of 1.9 million but was rigged out. Obi’s popular votes were rigged and replaced with intimidating figures of fake votes.  The Justice Garuba Nabaruma-led Tribunal later in 2005 recounted the presumed winner’s valid votes using original copies of filled and duly signed Form EC8As of accredited party agents and independent observers leading to the declaration of the presumed winner as the substantive winner in August 2005. The Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal later in March 2006 upheld the decision of the Tribunal leading to his swearing in on 17th March 2006.

“In the February 6,2010 governorship poll out of a total registered voting population of 1.84 million, only 301,232 (16.3 percent) voted; out of which Peter Obi of then APGA (All Progressives Grand Alliance) won his second term with only 97,833 valid votes, followed by Dr. Chris Ngige of ACN (Action Congress of Nigeria) with 60,240 and Prof. Charlie Soludo of PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) with 59,355 votes.

“In the November 16th and 30th 2013 governorship election in the state, out of a total registered voting population of 1,776,167, only 442,242 voted (25 percent) and 16,988 were invalid, while 425,254 were declared valid out of which Mr. William Obiano of APGA won with 180,173 valid votes; followed by Anthony Nwoye of PDP with 97,700 and Chris Ngige of APC (All Progressives Congress) with 95,963 valid votes.

“In the just concluded November 18, 2017 Anambra Governorship poll, out of total registered voters of 2,064,134, only 448,771 (21 percent) voted; 26,457 were declared invalid and 422,314 were declared valid votes cast; out of which incumbent Governor William Obiano of APGA scored 234,071 valid votes, followed by Anthony Nwoye of APC with 98,752 and Henry Oseloka Obaze with 70,293 votes. A total of 457,311 were accredited to vote and 8,540 of the accredited voters never voted.

“It was also discovered that over 350,000 registered voters have not received their PVCs in Anambra State out of the state’s total registered voting population of 2,064,134.  Specifically, prior to the March 28th and April 11th General Elections of 2015 in Nigeria, out of  1,963,173 registered voting population in Anambra State only 1,658,967 were issued with their permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) as at March 12th 2015, leaving behind 304,203 registered voters without PVCs. Also out of 100,961 registered voters since 2015, only 50 percent had received their PVCs; indicating that over 350,000 have not been issued with PVCs till date and did not participate in both 2015 General Elections in Nigeria and 2017 Governorship Poll in Anambra State.

“It further indicates that a total of 1,708,967 registered voters out of 2,064,134 registered voting population are issued with PVCs in the state out of which 448,771 (26 percent) voted in the just concluded Governorship Poll. It is also credibly estimated that between 500,000 and 1 million citizens are eligible to vote but yet to be captured as registered voters in Anambra State. That is to say between 900,000 and 1.4 million citizens are disenfranchised and denied their rights to participate or vote in the voting process in Anambra State.

“According to recent media reports quoting the National Bureau of Statistics, 61 percent of Nigeria’s estimated population of 175 million – 180 million or 110 million are eligible to vote in Nigeria; out of which only 68,834,252 were registered voters as at 2015, leaving behind 41 million others unregistered or as ghost voting population in Nigeria. Also out of 68,834,252 registered voters in the country as at 2015; only 56,768,406 received their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs); leaving behind 12,065,406 registered voters without PVCs. In the 2015 Presidential Election, only 28,587,564 registered voters voted; leaving behind 40,246,688 as registered voters who did not vote; in addition to 41m unregistered voting population; totaling 81,246,688 who excluded themselves or were excluded in the electoral or voting process in Nigeria till date.

Source: News Express

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