BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO
A civil society organisation, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of attempting to rig the forthcoming general elections by frustrating registered voters from the Southern parts of the country from getting their Permanent Voters Cards.
The group, in a statement issued on Monday and signed by its board chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi, the Head, Democracy and Good Governance, Chinwe Umeche and the Head, Campaign and Publicity Department, Chidinma Udegbunam, alleged that the electoral umpire had already excluded about 76 million Nigerians of voting age from participating in the coming polls.
“As it stands today, no fewer than whopping 76m Nigerians of constitutional voting age excluding estimated 20m ineligible identities or illegal voters comprising underage age children, illegal migrants, fake names and stolen identities/PVCs have undemocratically and dangerously been disenfranchised and excluded by the Independent National Electoral Commission from voting and participating in the Nigeria’s 25th February 2023 crucial Presidential Poll.
“Also, out of the so called “93.5m registered voters for 2023 general elections”, only 44m genuine PVC holders exist, out of which 10m have compromised their PVCs and VINs and sold their consciences to the devil. The above mentioned are a fundamental breach and impeachment of Section 12 of the 2022 Electoral Act of the Federation as amended. The above findings by Intersociety followed thorough review of the ongoing distribution of Permanent Voters’ Cards or PVCs by INEC since 12th December 2022 following our recent checks in the South-East, South-South and non native areas of Lagos, Kano, Ogun and FCT, with Anambra, Enugu, Imo and FCT as our case study.
“INEC was also found to be handling the 2022/2023 PVC distribution as “a makeshift” and this lukewarm attitude of the Commission is clearly understood as ‘a ground laying’ to push out and frustrate as much genuine PVC voters as the Commission could so as to easily have their way to outnumber the genuine PVC voters with 90% of the mobilized 20m “dead votes” to be pulled from estimated 8m underage and 2m illegal migrant PVC holders, 6m stolen or diverted PVCs and 4m fake names elevated by INEC as “human PVC holders”; and subsumed into “magic hinterland presidential votes” to be pulled from 12 major presidential poll States of Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Niger. These are in addition to no fewer than 10m harvested PVCs and their voter identification numbers or VINs,” the statement reads.
Intersociety further alleged that, “INEC is unwilling and unable to prioritize the PVC distribution including the Commission’s failure to give live daily and weekly national updates especially the State by State breakdown of the total number of PVCs distributed so far and number of pre-2019 and 2022 PVCs remaining; in addition to gender and ethnic and religious components of the newly distributed PVC recipients. INEC has further failed woefully to disclose how many of its claimed “newly printed 9.5m PVCs for newly registered 9.5m voters, 4m newly printed PVCs for transferred voters” and “pre- 2019 20m uncollected PVCs for those registered between 2011 and 2018” have been given or issued to their rightful owners.”
They said, “it was also found that INEC woefully failed in its constitutional and statutory duties by not properly disclosing or publishing the names and locations of the country’s 8,809 electoral wards which the Commission claimed to have designated as “PVC collection centers”. Found too are general complaints of PVC collectors being frustrated or forced to back out of the collection exercise following sundry hitches deliberately and discriminatorily created by the Commission including unavailability of PVCs/INEC staffers and lateness of the concerned INEC staffers to work.
“Reported, too, are difficulties in locating PVC collection centers and organized group violence or threat of same targeted at non native PVC collectors (i.e. non native areas of Lagos State). The INEC PVC collection exercise is further characterized by reports of long queues in the South-East, South-South and major non native parts of the South-West and FCT, etc involving nursing mothers, the old and pregnant women queuing under scorching sun and heat for half a day in addition to sundry extortion at collection centers especially in Anambra, Enugu and Imo States.”
“It must be remembered that the over 76m voting citizens were disenfranchised by INEC through ethnic and religious fueled discriminatory policies adopted by the Commission during the 2021/2022 Continuous Voters’ Registration and the PVC distribution exercises. This is to the extent that INEC went out of the way to flood the National Register of Voters with tens of millions of Muslim underage children, illegal migrants, fake names and stolen PVCs in its desperate bid to outnumber genuine non Muslim voters especially members of Northern and Southern Christian populations,” the group maintained.
Consequently, the group further accused INEC of inflaming Nigeria and pushing it into complex uncertainties.
It said, “disenfranchisement of Nigerian citizens of full blood and those of legitimate naturalization by INEC and their exclusion from voting and participating in national or sub-national and local council polls especially the coming Presidential Poll of Feb 25, 2023 is ‘lubricantly’ inflaming Nigeria or any part thereof and pushing the country into complex uncertainties. That is to say that to massively rig election is one thing but to contain the catastrophic effects of such rigging is another thing.
“By ostracizing whopping 76m voting Nigerians, INEC has already ignited an unquenchable fire on Nigeria and laid lethal landmines waiting explosive detonation and by being bent on using skewed PVC data-sheet and other anti democratic methods including sponsored insecurity and civil space militarization to massively ostracize tens of millions of voting Nigerians of full blood and ‘populating’ the poll with ‘dead votes’ numbering 18m, the Commission is further pushing Nigeria or any part thereof into complex uncertainties capable of producing far reaching short term, medium term and long term consequences with maximum capacity to futuristically and radically reshape Nigeria or any part thereof.”