Nigeria: How Delayed Announcement of Poll Results Aids Rigging, Transactions

26 February 2019

A coalition of Southeast-Based Civil Society Organisations has expressed concerns over pre-planned rigging plots hatched by some anti-democratic elements to rig the 2019 election, especially the presidential poll, through unwarranted delay in announcing the outcome of balloting

The coalition comprises of International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety), Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO - Southeast Zone), Forum for Promotion of National Ethos and Values, Igbo Ekunie Initiative (UK), International Solidarity for Peace and Human Rights Initiative; Society for Economic Rights and Social Justice, among others.

It noted that the orchestrated delay and piecemeal release of the results provide avenue for the "widely suspected surgical operations the outcome is undergoing in INEC's (Independent National Electoral Commission's) strong rooms."

While indicating that the sluggish announcement preceded the first botched election date, the coalition declared that the rigging schemes are "grounded in fourteen rigging strategies majorly categorized into three layers of pre-election, election day and post-election rigging."

It stated: "These strategies include shutting out millions of Southeast, South-South and northern Christian voting population from being registered as voters, non-issuance of permanent voter cards (PVCs) to many registered voters of the same ethno-religious nationalities.

"Systematic importation of alien voters from Chad and Niger Republics, widespread involvement of millions of underage and multiple voters from Northern Muslim voting areas, relaxation of security arrangements and tensions in Northern Muslim voting areas, giving to unchecked perpetration of all forms of electoral malpractices, and heightening of same and strict regulation of same under tight security in southern parts, particularly in voting areas dominated by Southeast and South-South citizens."

The coalition added that compromising INEC and security agencies in widespread speed of sensitive ballot materials, militarization of voting routes and arenas, violent dispersal and voter terrorization by the military of Southern and Northern Christian voters and sponsored violent attacks on Igbo and other Christian communities, as well as burning down their polling centres and ballot materials, were part of the plans to undermine the electoral process.

In a statement jointly signed by the leaders, including Emeka Umeagbalasi, Aloysius Attah, Jerry Chukwuokoro and Prof. Justice Chidi, among others, the group noted: "From every indication and unfolding circumstances, and without verbal regurgitation, it is the position of the Southeast-Based Coalition of Human Rights & Democracy Organizations that the 2019 presidential poll in Nigeria has suffered a litany of ungodly delays and other satanic influences.

"The delays by the Independent National Electoral Commission in tabulating and announcing the results of the election in record time are getting Nigerians sicker and pushing them to maximum limits of their patience.

"INEC must, therefore, avoid setting the country on fire with intractable or calamitous consequences in which neither the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government nor the opposition Peoples Democratic Party nor INEC and its officials would be spared if ignited. The commission must also ensure that all the results in its possession, particularly those of the presidential poll are in tandem with every result generated from the country's 176,000 polling booths, duly signed and held in duplicate by agents of the participating political parties.

"The commission must refuse or turn down pressures by the central government of Buhari and Osinbajo or its agents, or members of the opposition parties to suppress and subvert the true electoral wishes of the Nigerian voters not minding the political party affiliations."

The groups reiterated that the long delays in releasing the presidential election results "are pilling security apparatus and inducement pressures to get INEC to compromise and temper with the original results from polling booths and have them replaced with robotically-generated figures so as to subvert the true electoral wishes of gallant Nigerian voters."

Nasarawa example

In Nasarawa State, where the ruling APC was leading its closest rival, PDP, with 6,000 votes, Governor Tanko Al Makura had to pass the night in Doma to ensure that cancellation of as much as 40,000 votes to achieve the feat on behalf of his party and presidential candidate.

Out of the 13 local government councils INEC declared results for the presidential poll, the returning officer, Prof. Azubike Nwankwo, disclosed that President Buhari of APC was trailed by the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who won in five local government areas.

The local governments where Atiku won included Karu, Obi, Akwanga, Kokona and Nasarawa Eggon, while APC triumphed in Lafia, Keffi, Nasarawa, Keana, Awe, Wamba and Doma, where the deed was done.

Edo oddity

If what happened in Nasarawa was magical, it was not as spectacular as the drama in Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area of Edo State. It was a brazen show of strongarm tactics, which forced one Samuel Elikiba to cry out to the presidential candidate of PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to wake up and bring the excesses of some security officers to public knowledge.

Elikiba said the international community should be made to know how soldiers drove out PDP agents from the collation centres, leaving only the APC's candidate, EJ Agbonghima, the governor and APC's agent, stressing that the entire episode was to manipulate the result in Western Boys High School at Ikpoba Okha.

He said: "They did the same thing in Ovia and later declared APC winner in a place where we won all the wards. Please, Atiku should act fast; evil men progress when Godly men fold their hands. Atiku should not fold his hands."

Meanwhile, in the result announced by INEC for Ovia Federal Constituency, Mr. Dennis Idahosa of APC was returned as winner of the election into the House of Representatives seat, after polling 28,509 to defeat the incumbent Ms Omosede Igbinedion, daughter of Chief Gabriel Igbinedion and younger sister to the former state governor, Chief Lucky Igbinedion, who scored 23, 345 votes.

The returning officer, Prof. Victor Igbinedion of the University of Benin, who announced the final result at Iguobazuwa, Ovia South West Local Government Area, said Idahosa polled the highest number of votes cast and satisfied all electoral conditions.

The elated Idahosa, who dedicated the victory to God, noted that his victory was the "voice of the people against bad representation. This election was not all about Dennis Idahosa, but the people, who have yearned for a better and effective representation these past years."

Kaduna drama

For Kaduna State, where voters displayed uncommon patience and resolve, the drama that culminated in a staggered election took place in various polling units where election materials could not arrive until after the stipulated time for accreditation and voting.

After queuing in near endless wait for INEC officials, the voters had to hire a makeshift electricity generating set when the officials came around 1.00pm. Surprisingly after wasting those precious hours, it was discovered that the result sheet was not included in the material the officials came with.

Repeated attempts to bring some of the observed shortcomings in some of the polling units across the state to the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Abdullahi Kaugama, could not bear fruit as the REC cordoned himself off from media interface. Accreditation and voting proceeded into the night in some areas, just as collation and counting had to be shifted to the next day.

Perhaps piqued by the apparent show of bias by officials, the incumbent Senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, who is also the senatorial candidate of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) in the election, Senator Shehu Sani, called for outright cancellation of elections in the state, alleging that security agencies assisted the rigging in APC's favour.

Sani contended that cancellation of elections in Kaduna State, particularly in Kaduna Central zone, was the best way to compensate voters and propitiate the enormous rigours they were put through as well as undoing the massive rigging perpetrated by leaders of APC with the active connivance of security personnel. Wile addressing journalists in the state yesterday said the election that took place last Saturday was marred by irregularities across the zone, ranging from over voting, ballot stuffing and intimidation of voters.

While insisting on the cancellation whether he was the ultimate winner or not, Sani said he and his party have compiled cases of irregularities across the zone and petitioned INEC. Also towing the Senator's footsteps, the PRP candidate for Kaduna North Federal Constituency, Kassim Balarabe Musa, maintained that the just-concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state were marred by irregularities.

Musa, who said he was speaking on behalf of his party at a press conference in Kaduna, joined in the call for the cancellation of elections held in the state, regretting that the election was characterised by massive voter inducement, wide sprea card reader malfunctioning, usage of unknown persons or cloned PVC for voting among others.

While assuring that the party would pursue legal action against those involved in the electoral malpractice in the state, the PRP stalwart said material evidences against the perpetrators were in the party's possession.

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