A coalition of Civil Society Groups (CSOs) has condemned the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, over the shabby conduct of last Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections.
The group in a press conference held in Onitsha said the election was marred with several factors, including vote buying, voter suppression, over voting and failure of the Bimodal Voters’ Accreditation System (BVAS). It also called for a repeat of the process.
Below if full text read by the group…
PRESS RELEASE BY THE COALITION OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN DELTA STATE.
Greetings Gentlemen of the Press, and media crew;
WE, the coalition Civil Society organization in Delta state, we wish to use this medium to passionately express our gratitude to all Nigerians especially our teaming youths and most importantly our amiable father’s and mother’s, who thronged their polling units on Saturday 25th February, 2023 to exercise their civic duty, in spite of the harsh weather but unfortunately met an election arrangement that is diametrically opposite to everything that INEC has promised the people of Nigeria.
We therefore wish to outline and carefully analysis some fundamental observations that we believed were deliberately planned between some disgruntle INEC officials and the agents of the major political party to compromise the election in favour of their pay master:
1. Voter Suppression.
It is unfortunate that the distribution of election materials was deliberately delayed in many polling units to suppress our voters. This is Rigging-by-Time.
In many places elections started few minutes to the closing time of 2:30pm. Law enforcement personnel especially some Police and DSS were openly seen colluding with the agents of the ruling party and elections officials not only to cause delays in the process but also to harass and intimidate voters in places were the ruling party is very unpopular.
In spite of the Naira swap policy which the government claimed was intended to end the culture of vote-buying, there is no gainsaying that the 2023 general election was among the worse in terms of vote-buying. While the volume of cash being used to bribe voters has reduced, the quantum of other truckloads of essential commodities that was used openly, at polling units, to bribe voters was unprecedented in the history of elections in Nigeria. In almost every electoral ward in the country, merchants of corruption and bribe were in their elements! Truckloads of raw food items, truckloads of fabrics, truckloads of toiletries etc. were seen everywhere and being used shamelessly by the ruling party to bribe voters and compromise the election. In many places this dastardly act was being protected by some law enforcement agents.
3. BVAS Failure and Over-voting.
The decision of INEC to close down the IREV server might not be unconnected with the very widespread failures of the BVAS across the country. In majority of the PUs across rural Nigeria, the BVAS machine failed. It simply did not work. There was no any accreditation. And people were allowed to vote. Nothing compromised the election and returned us to pre-technology era than the shelving of BVAS and allowing election to hold without accreditation. And in those places, ballot boxes were simply stuffed with ballot papers of a particular party to the detriment and disadvantage of other parties. No over-voting is worse that voting without accreditation at all. In fact in the few places were the BVAS machine worked, the attempt to change the results on transit has also rubbished the accreditation as the record on the BVAS is entirely different with the tampered results on the results sheet.
4. INEC Lies about IREV Server.
In the entire arrangements for the 2023 general elections, nothing was more comforting to all political parties on the opposition side than the fact that election results will be transmitted electronically, in real-time, from the polling units to the IREV server. And INEC kept hammering, repeatedly, on the fact that there will be no going back on the arrangement to electronically transmit results from the PUs. But the ruling party and all its candidate kept kicking against the arrangement. To our greatest shock, INEC shelved the electronic transmission arrangement and literally closed the IREV server when only about 30 out of over 176,000 PUs results were uploaded.
This very action of returning to manual transmission has completely compromised the 2023 general elections. Election results were intercepted and changed between PUs and Wards Collation centres, between Wards Collation centres and Local government collation centres, and between local government collation centres and state collation centres. This election is marred with numerous incidences of changing the results of the election on transit from one level to another – exactly what the electronic transmission clause of the electoral act seeks to avoid.
***We pray the independent national electoral commission to thoroughly investigate all the irregularities and make necessary amend in order to restore trust and the confident of Nigerian people.
***No BIVAS No Result.
***Where result was not loaded on IREV, the entire area should be cancelled
In conclusion, the whole electoral process fell short of international standards, marred with gross irregularities, haphazard logistics arrangements and total deviation from the laydown rules and regulations governing the conduct of elections in Nigeria.
we must be aware that, no matter the situation in our country all leaders must consider the stability and security of the country as paramount. Our country is bigger than any individual and is certainly more important than any vested interest.
To save our democracy and our country, the present election results must not be accepted by Nigerians and by all friends of Nigeria. We are therefore calling for the cancellation of the 2023 presidential election across the country. New election should be conducted as soon as possible.
Thank you for your attention.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
God bless Nigeria!