By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
A coalition of the Civil Society Organisations of Nigeria on Tuesday took a protest to the national headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), asking the Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to resignation his position immediately.
The coalition, an umbrella forum comprising 18 organisations, also demanded a probe of possible reasons INEC under Prof. Mahmoud Yakub failed Nigerians and Africa’s biggest democracy before and during the just concluded election.
Addressing newsmen during the protest at the Maitama headwaters of the INEC, convener of the coalition Dada Olayinka, said Nigerians will not accept any foisting of a compromised election on the nation.
The Coalition is made up of 18 CSOs among which are Civil Society Forum of Nigeria, Nigeria Youth Development Forum, Democratic Youth Initiative, Forum for Social Justice, Movement for the Development of Democracy and Safeguard Nigeria Movement.
Others are Alliance for People’s Welfare, Forward Nigeria Movement, Human Right Crusaders, Defenders of Democracy, Democratic Rights Assembly and Voter’s Rights Assembly.
According to the protesters, prior to the election, INEC had promised that their staff are well trained, motivated and phycologically prepared for the task and importantly assured Nigerians that election results would be transmitted electronically to their server from the polling units across the 176, 846 available.
“INEC claimed the BVAS technology was going to be effectively deployed to forestall rigging and over voting. These were major pillar upon which Nigerians anchored their excitement and belief in the process of electing their leaders.
“However, events during and after the elections would later prove that INEC performed below expectations and pulled the wool over the eyes of Nigerians: Over 93.5 million Nigerians were registered for the February 2023 election, only 23% of the total figure were able to vote. This is lower than previous elections.
“Late distribution of election materials. While many had hoped to maximally utilize the use of BVAS technology for easy accreditation and eventual voting thereby increasing participation, the BVAS technology was either deployed lately or bypassed in many polling units thereby disenfranching a large majority. In many other areas, people who had arrived polling units ahead of time couldn’t enjoy voting rights due to non funtionality and or inexperienced operation of the BVAS by largely untrained Adhoc staff.
“In places BVAS worked efficiently, there were reported cases of over voting in many centres leading to denial of voter’s rights. Many votes didn’t count.
“Large scale violence orchestrated by political thugs supported by some desperate candidates who knew it was impossible for them to win free and fair elections thereby leading to cancellation of results.
“Non transmission of results from polling units to the INEC server and the non functionality of the Irev where Nigerians would have had opportunity to monitor results real time and accurately.
“Non adherence to the rules set by INEC itself for the conduct of the election.
“Compromise of the process by some adhoc/staff of INEC and Ballot snatching.
“In view of above, it is obvious that INEC deceived Nigerians into believing it was ready for the election whereas the commission was ill prepared despite over 300 billion naira of tax payers money the commission received to conduct the elections.”
Olayinka also alleged possible manipulation of election results at the polling units due to non transmission in real time.
“It is safe therefore to conclude that INEC not only conducted the worst election so far in Nigeria’s history but blatantly took the people for a ride. INEC also flagrantly disobeyed its own rules and regulations and disregarded the provisions of the electoral act.
The 2023 election cannot therefore be adjudged to be free, fair, credible and transparent.
“The Coalition of Civil Societies of Nigeria, an umbrella forum comprising 18 others demands immediate resignation of Prof. Mahmoud Yakub and also entire cancellation of the sham results announced by him.
“We align with the observations of foreign missions particularly the EU, AU, ECOWAS and others who have all ascertained that INEC failed to meet the credibility required in discharging her duties. The UK, US and other advanced democracies/governments and all lovers of democracy have also willingly expressed their views that the election fell short of a remarkable credible test.
Nigerians are discontented with the poor and unprofessional handling of sensitive assignment such as this which empowers them to freely choose leaders of their choice and enthrone popular government.
“We also demand a probe of possible reasons INEC under Prof. Mahmoud Yakub failed Nigerians and Africa’s biggest democracy. Nigerians will not accept any foisting of a compromised election on the nation.”