*Says elections fell below expectation
*Warns against violence erupting
By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
While calling on all citizens to be calm following rising tension from Saturdays’s Presidential election, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has tasked electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to come clean by ensuring the will of the people at the polls prevails.
CAN expressed this in a statement signed by its President, Archbishop Daniel C. Okoh, sighted by our correspondent yesterday.
“We equally ask the Independent National Electoral Commission to do all within its scope of authority to ensure that the will of the people as expressed through the ballots during last Saturday’s presidential and federal legislative elections count.
“Ideally, when people vote, the votes should be counted and allowed to reflect in the result the electoral umpire will announce. Anything short of that, remains an aberration in any democratic context and contest,”CAN stressed..
The apex Christian body in Nigeria lamented that despite the many assurances given by INEC about its level of preparedness for the polls, it was observed in many quarters that last Saturday’s elections fell below the reasonable expectations of the people.
“Late arrival of election materials in parts of the country, malfunction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System machines, failure of the planned electronic transmission of results to the virtual results viewing portal amid other structural challenges in the electoral process have not only cast a shadow of doubt on INEC’s sincerity to deliver a transparent and fair general election this year, but also threaten the credibility of the entire system,” it pointed out.
CAN, therefore, demanded cogent explanation as to why the preventable lapses were not addressed in a timely manner.
“INEC must rise to the occasion in the face of this precarious situation and do everything possible to win back the slipping confidence of the people in the electoral system, especially as the country prepares for the governorship and state legislative polls in 11 days time,” CAN said.
It noted, “Most importantly, all Nigerians must note that the whole of the international community is watching the behaviour of Federal Government and its agencies, especially the police, the army and the other law-enforcement agents, to see how far they respect the country’s constitution, the rule of law and the obligation to act well in playing their roles in respect of elections.”
CAN therefore, commended the electorates for the huge number of voter turnout, which is said, is even more than the population of several countries.
“However, the implication is that, once anything goes wrong in our country, it will have a ripple effect across West Africa and beyond.
“As it is said, when Nigeria sneezes, the rest of the African continent catches cold. This implies that all stakeholders must ensure that these elections are free and fair so that no room is created for people to agitate unnecessarily or for violence to erupt,” it added.
Against this backdrop, CAN called for calm and restraint on all sides.
According to the statement titled, “Elections: CAN appeals for calm, demands responsible action from INEC, others”, it said, “The National leadership of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has noted with deep concern the recent developments in the country following the February 25, Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“Elections are vital for our country’s stability and democratic consolidation, and so the process must be conducted and concluded safely, fairly and credibly.
“For this reason, we urge political parties, candidates, supporters and the public to desist from any action that could create needless tensions or stoke any form of violence that could put the country on a precipice.
“CAN specifically asks all presidential candidates to abide by the spirit and letter of the Peace Accord they signed before the elections. We remind them that this is the only country we have, and we must do everything to keep it safe, united and peaceful.
“In the same breath, we encourage all political actors, elder statesmen, eminent personalities in our society as well as religious and traditional leaders to make proactive interventions to calm any tensions and nip signs of violence in the bud.”