Affirming that brazen electoral brigandage and open disrespect to the ground rules set by the electoral umpire for the conduct of the February 25th 2023 national Assembly election, were made manifest by officials of INEC in Ebonyi North, a call has gone to the hierarchy of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to redeem her waning image by reversing that stolen result announced.
Making the submission is the Nation’s prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group:- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) which expressed consternation and disappointment that massive electoral fraud, manipulation of results and abysmal failure to use BVAS machine in the accreditation of voters and uploading of the polling units results for the Ebonyi North Senatorial district of Ebonyi State for the 2023 election happened, just as the Rights group stated that the only remedy for INEC to clean up her image that is deteriorating across the global community so rapidly, is for it to cancel that election, re-conduct of a transparent and law-based election so the People of Ebonyi North can be allowed to make their democratic choice without Ebonyi State government controlled manipulations.
HURIWA has also endorsed the petition penned by a former governor of Ebonyi State and the incumbent Senator representing Ebonyi North Senator Sam Egwu who rightly stated in the petition, a copy of which HURIWA obtained through the Independent National Electoral Commission, in which he stated as follows: “I am the senator representing Ebonyi North Senatorial District of Ebonyi State and the first Executive Governor of Ebonyi State and I have been part and parcel of all the electoral processes in Ebonyi Sate since 1999. The present 2023 general election is the worst case scenario of Brazen disregard and outright violation of the Guidelines and or Rules and Regulations of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the conduct of general elections in Ebonyi State.”
HURIWA endorsed Senator Sam Egwu’s petition which informed INEC further thus: “As a candidate in the election, my polling unit agents, Registration Areas and Local Government Returning Agents informed me and I verily believed them that during accreditation and voting, the presiding officers (POs), Assistant Presiding Officers (APOs 1) and Assistant Presiding Officer 2 (APOs 2) respectively connived with the agents of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ebonyi State and the security personnel assigned to the polling units to disregard and flagrantly violate the INEC Guidelines and or Rules and Regulations by avoiding the use of the BIVAS Machine in the accreditation of voters and uploading of results in all or most of the polling units that make up the entire Ebonyi North Senatorial District of Ebonyi State”
HURIWA stated that there is no doubt that as a result of the collusion and connivance, the result of the senatorial district election does not reflect the genuine outcome of the accreditation exercise in the elections because election observer on ground confirmed to HURIWA that they discovered that in most of the polling units located within 122A Local Govt. Area, the INEC officials connived with APC and reduced PDP scored votes by rendering the ballot papers invalid votes, for example In places like 009 Obvudu Echi market square at Ndiagu ward in lzzi West Constituency, the members of APC thugs force all PDP supporters to cast their votes in favour of APC or forfeit their right to cast vote. the case in Polling booths 017 and 036 at Ndiogbu Ndieze Market Square were worst off, as the APC not only forced votes against their Preferred Candidate, by invading and intruding into the voting Area in their Numbers and shot sporadically, carted away the INEC materials and official alike to an unknown destination.”
HURIWA expressed shock and disappointment that the alleged armed APC Thugs took away Ozoemena Ominyi Nwankwuda and shot him dead and damaged so many properties including cars, the Police security attended to the Polling Station ran away for dear life as other Supporters of PDP did. Ndunwawala Market Square contain booths 008, 019 and many other places besieged by the APC thugs who shot sporadically and chases away all PDP supporter. The entire Izzi L. G. A got besieged with APC thugs who understood too many well that they lack people acceptance but resulted to intimidation on PDP supporters and faithful.
The Rights affirmed that at Inyimagu Central School Iboke contain Polling Units 009, 002 and 014 among others in Izzi East Constituency, the APC thugs invaded the venue and took ballot papers, Shot sporadically and chased PDP supporters away from the venue including the only Security Officer available in Oferekpe Agbaja village, Ndiwawala, Ndumbam, Onuenyim and Nduofutu village respectively have their residents chased away from their homes except those who agreed to support APC.
HURIWA is thereby demanding cancellation of that sham of an election in Ebonyi North because the INEC electoral officials violated the fundamental law governing the conduct of last Saturday’s election just as the Rights group reminded the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as saying last Year’s September that it is committed to the deployment of the bimodal voter registration system (BVAS) for the 2023 elections.
“Festus Okoye, INEC commissioner for information and voter education, spoke during an interview with Channels Television confirmed that BVAS is a device introduced by INEC which allows for accreditation of voters through biometrics capturing, uploading of polling results and other functions just as stakeholders have described BVAS as an upgrade of the smartcard reader, which was used in the 2019 elections, and a game changer in the country’s electoral process.
INEC’S official spokesperson in the Country Mr. Okoye had said the use of BVAS for elections in the country is stipulated in the Electoral Act of 2022 even as the INEC spokesperson said the commission is not scared of any legal action which may seek to challenge the legality of the use of BVAS and added that Nigerians have accepted the use of BVAS and that the commission will not relent on its commitment to improve the electoral process via technology.
HURIWA recalled that the INEC’S OFFICIAL SPOKESPERSON had stated thus: “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. “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. We cannot, under any circumstances, go back to 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.”
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko the National Coordinator of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA said her organisation is therefore using the media to task the national hierarchy of INEC to cancel the election in Ebonyi North Senatorial District of Ebonyi State because the electoral officials sent by INEC compromised and violated the rules governing the conduct of the poll and therefore these irregularities render the outcome of that election a nullity. HURIWA said if such brazen electoral brigandage and open disrespect to the ground rules set by the electoral umpire for the conduct of the February 25th national Assembly election is not arrested and corrected by cancellation of that election, it therefore means that INEC has lost all her credibility as a body.