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Int’l Academics, Rights Campaigners, Lawyers, Diplomats Alert INEC Over Rigging Strategies Ahead Of 2023 Polls

BENJAMIN OMOIKE

A galaxy of international intellectuals and activists under the aegis of the newly-formed International College of Democracy and Human Rights has written to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, alerting the electoral umpire on rigging strategies which would likely be deployed by desperate politicians during the 2023 elections.

Routed through INEC National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, the letter exposed 20 citizens’ disenfranchisement and 10 election rigging plots ahead of the 2023 General Elections particularly the Presidential segment.

A total of 132 democracy and human rights experts drawn from within and beyond the borders of Nigeria conscientiously lent their endorsements to the expert letter despatched from Enugu, Eastern Nigeria, today, Thursday, July 14, 2022.

They include 40 renowned Professors, two respected US and Swiss citizens involved in international democracy and human rights campaigns; 10 International Scholars with expertise in international diplomacy and creative and new media; 20 Doctorate Degree holders, over 20 lawyers, 19 indigenous Northern Clerics, 14 prominent Eastern Nigerian Democracy and Human Rights CSO Leaders over other respected Democracy Campaigners who are also experts in various disciplines.

The two respected American and Swiss Democracy and Human Rights Campaigners that consented are Chief John Gregg and Mr. Bernhard Wanner. Prominent among the 40 renowned Professors involved are Prof Uzodinma Nwala, President of the AlaIgbo Dev Foundation (ADF), Prof Justin Akujieze, Board Chair of Ekwenche Research Institute, USA, Prof Obasi Igwe, a retired renowned Prof of Political Science, Prof Barr Isaac Worigji, Prof Barr Bassey Ephraim, Prof Isaac Okeme, Prof Anthony Ejiofor, Chairman of World Igbo Congress, Dr Prof Jerry Chidozie Chukwuokolo, Prof Justus Chidi and Criminology Prof Paul Obianoso.

Among the 20 Doctorate Degree holders are Law Mefor of Igbo Bu Igbo, Ngozi Odumako of Nzuko Umunna, Patrick A. Mbum of a Federal University in South-South Nigeria; Nwamaka Iguh Esquire, Ngozi Chuma-Umeh Esquire, Moses Nwaigwe and Odogwu Emeka Odogwu. Leading International Scholars involved include Ambassador Uche Ajulu-Okeke, Mazi Amadiebube Mbama, Mazi Tochukwu Ezeoke of Njenje New Media, UK, Ositadimma Aguh, Chris Maduka, Luke Nwannunu, (USA) and Austin Okeke Esquire.

Top among Eastern Nigerian Democracy and Human Rights CSO Leaders that endorsed the letter are Emeka Umeagbalasi, Criminologist and Intersociety Boss; Abia Onyeike, former Government Commissioner in Ebonyi State and veteran Rights CSO Leader, Okezie Kelechi, PhD, Aloysius Emeka Attah (Southeast CLO), Chilos Godsent (INC), Zulu Ofoelue, Vincent Ezekwueme, Igboayaka O. Igboayaka (Ohanaeze Youth Council) and Nelson Nnanna Nwafor.

Among the 19 respected indigenous Northern clerics are Rev Dr Ahaz Taye, Prof Kaleb Fili, Bishop Ibrahim Dauda, Rev Dr Agoso A. Bamayi and Baba Dikko. Respected Lawyers involved include Barristers Efuru Nwapa-Obua (UK) and Raphael Ndubuisi Nwosu (UK); Chidinma Udegbunam, Chinwe Umeche, Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Ndidiamaka Bernard, Justus Uche Ijeoma, Retired Captain Casmir Nwafor, Ezekwike Chekwube Violet and Walson Nkechi Nduka.

Others involved are Engineer Mrs. Chinyere Obika, a respected Chemical Engineer, Engineer Ikenweoke Nwandu (Renowned Computer Security Engineer), Architect Eric Eyituche of ADF, Mazi Izundu Chigbo (Atama Ajali), Maazi Cyril Nwachukwu (USA), Alphonsus Ejiofor Eze, (Newspaper Editor), Onitsha, Ajanobi Chinweike Achilles, a respected Hydrogeologist, PhD (in view) and Honorary Doctor Emeh Chukwudi, CEO, Devine Crown Ltd., Onitsha.

In the letter, communicated through WhatsApp and email communications, the members of the College told the INEC Chairman: “Going by several provisions in the country’s Constitution and other regional and international instruments acceded to, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ratified and domesticated by Nigeria in 1983 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ratified in 1993); it is our collective expert duty and responsibility to ensure that all citizens of voting age irrespective of tribe, gender, class and religion; wishing to be registered, are registered as eligible voters by the Commission, issued with PVCs and allowed and protected to conscientiously vote for candidates of their choice especially in the next Elections, particularly the Presidential segment.

Citizens of voting age in Nigeria with requisite qualifications and capacities must also be protected to be voted for. It must be boldly stated that it is the fundamental human right of all citizens of voting age to undeniably be allowed and protected to participate in electoral or political process regardless of their tribe, religion, gender and class.”

Below are parts of the letter: 20 Disenfranchisement Plots Against Tens Of Millions Of Eligible Voters Shrinking of delineation of constituencies, registration and voting centers targeted at a particular ethno-religious group or groups on the grounds of their tribe or religion.

Provision of inadequate manpower and machines for registration and their deployment in non Muslim areas especially South-East and South-South.

Malfunctioning of voters’ registration machines targeted at a particular ethno-religious group/groups in the Northern and Southern areas.

Discriminatory programming of registration machines using computer command languages or instructions (garbage in, garbage out) intended to massively disenfranchise members of a particular ethnic group/groups or religion.

Secret running or creation of registration and polling centers (flying registration/voting centers) across borders for purpose of capturing aliens as registered voters/voters during elections in Nigeria so as to artificially out-populate other members of the legitimate population and manipulate the demographic and electoral figures.

Non-issuance or discriminatory issuance of PVCs to registered voters on the grounds of their ethnicity or religion.

Registration of minors and aliens as voters with intent to roguishly out-populate other legitimate members of the general population and maintain false demographic numerical superiority over others.

Official padding on continuous basis of the voting figures of particular ethno-religious members of the general voting population with intent to continuously out-populate others and rig elections such as the Presidential Poll in favor of the appointing authorities or institutions or favored another.

Organising or sponsoring group violence against another group/citizens seeking to be registered as voters so as to massively disenfranchise them on the grounds of their tribe and religion.

Application of ethnic and religious sentiments or policies in the time of voters’ registration and distribution of permanent voters’ cards including over concentration of registration machines and manpower in ethnic and religious favored areas and shrinking of same in other disfavored areas.

Secret programming of registration machines with limitless capturing capacities in the religious and ethnic favored areas and contrary programming of same with limited capacities (i.e. 500 registrants per machine) in disfavored areas.

Massive deployment of registering machines and personnel in the favored areas (.i.e. non Christian areas) and embarking on house-to-house voters’ registration in same as against deployment of inadequate number of machines and personnel in other disfavored areas (.i.e. non Muslim areas); forcing citizens into long queues and their several repeat failed attempts to be registered leading to frustrations and self disenfranchisements.

Sudden shutting down since 30th May 2022 of the INEC’s online voters’ registration portal, possibly to prevent high number of registrants from the South or among the computer literate youths so as to maintain roguish high voters’ data for the North against the South intended on ethno-religious grounds or sentiments.

Deliberate capturing of approximately four out of every five in the non Christian North and others as registered voters or PVC bearers as against one out of every five in the non Muslim South and other non Muslim dominated areas using manual methods only and intended on ethno-religious grounds.

Using technical hitches such as delay tactics, shortage of machines and manpower, extortion and other bureaucratic stresses to deprive registered voters or intending registrants from being captured as registered voters or having PVCs.

General poor awareness creation for citizens wishing to be registered or those wishing to have their PVCs in Nigeria or any of its part thereof.

Deliberate and discriminatory policy of capturing minors and other underage in the North and on religious ground as registered voters and PVCs’ owners and turning off same in the South including disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of others with few weeks to attain the age of eighteen.

Application of discriminatory voters registration and PVC distribution procedures between North and South including the use of proxies such as District Heads in the North and house-to-house registration and PVC issuance in the same area as against use of manual queues, extortion and other stressful and corrupt methods in the South targeted on ethnic and religious grounds.

Inexplicable shutting out of over 3.6m newly registered voters from the 10.4m INEC said was the total number of persons newly registered as at 30th June 2022, out of which the Commission claimed that “only 6.8m were successfully registered”; since then INEC has refused to publicly disclose the fate of the 3.6m others that were affected including whether they belong to or being targeted for disenfranchisement on religious and tribal grounds.

Deliberate application of technical hitches frustrating and stopping registered voters seeking transfer of their PVCs and those with issue of loss or misplacement or defacing of their PVCs.

10 Rigging Plots Ahead Of Presidential Segment Of The 2023 General Elections

Militarisation of election arenas so as to frighten voters and scare them away targeted at their tribe and religion Instigation of group violence and other coordinated attacks against members of a particular voting population on the grounds of their faith and tribe for purpose of massively disenfranchising them, as was widely the case in non native areas of Lagos, Kano, Plateau, FCT, Kaduna and others in the 2019 Presidential and Governorship Elections

Padding up by malicious electoral officials using crooked computer software, of voting figures and inflation of results to favor the favored candidates.

Programming of voting capturing machines for widespread failures, to be targeted at the opposition strong-holds for purpose of mass disenfranchisement of members of the affected voting population.

Application of strict procedures in the South during the election including intended widespread failure of INEC’s voters’ accreditation and voting machines such as the ‘Voter’s Enrolment Device (IReV)’ and the ‘Bimodal Voter’s Accreditation System (BVAS)’ (formerly Card Reader)-using computer’s monopolised command languages as against application of the contrary methods and procedures in the North Application of strict procedures during the Presidential segment of the forthcoming 2023 General Elections in the South and relaxation of same including strong suspicion of use of manual voting protected by group fanaticism or use of radical ethno-religious groups, under the watch or in conspiracy with the country’s security forces and mobilized political thugs in the North, seriously suspected to have been the case during the 2019 Presidential Election.

Unchecked and indiscriminate vote buying at opposition strongholds plotted to be effected in at least two-thirds majority of the country’s 176,000 poling units in the forthcoming Presidential segment of the 2023 General Elections, as was evidentially the case during the recently held presidential primaries of the country’s leading political parties

Expected incessant cases of ballot box snatching and destruction of voting materials in the forthcoming Feb 2023 Presidential segment of the General Elections.

Expected deliberate administratively caused late arrival of voting materials and personnel as well as late accreditation of voters and widespread failure of capturing and voting machines especially targeted at opposition strongholds in the North and South including Anambra, Edo and others Intensification and escalation of state actor violence and instigated others using the country’s military as was the case in the 2019 Presidential Poll, with intent to scare away voters yearning to vote for their chosen candidates.

There are also most likely to be widespread manipulation or doctoring of paper and electronic voting figures in polling units, collation centers and INEC’s strong rooms by malicious electoral officials colluding with desperate and unpopular political parties and their candidates in the Presidential segment of the 2023 General Elections; as was independently alleged or observed in the 2019 Presidential Election.

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