*SERAP urges INEC, police to take action
Members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Dekina and Olamaboro local government areas of Kogi State have protested what they call the daylight robbery of their votes during the election conducted on Saturday.
In a random sampling of opinions across the polling units within the two local governments, many members of the ruling party lamented the brazen robbery and the open display of thuggery perpetuated by hoodlums loyal to the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Revelation from available iREV data on the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) portal, shows that there were significant electoral discrepancies in the elections in the two local governments. The data shows a blatant case of overvoting and manipulation of results in favour of the SDP candidate, Muritala Ajaka.
According to the uploaded IREV results, there are clear instances of overvoting, where the number of votes cast surpasses the number of accredited voters, raising questions about the integrity of the voting process. Additionally, there have been reports of bypassing the Biometric Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and tampering with result sheets, pointing to a systematic attempt to skew the election results in favour of the SDP.
The severity of the electoral malpractices has led to calls for the cancellation of votes in the Dekina and Olamaboro local government areas where aggrieved APC members argue that the irregularities have compromised the fairness and transparency of the election.
This was buttressed with the photograph of a falsified result sheet that has gone viral, showing discrepancies between accredited voters and the final vote counts.
A member of the APC who insisted that the picture is a clear evidence of rigging, urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the police to take immediate action to address these allegations and ensure that the will of the people is not truncated, especially in the two local governments.
He said: “The credibility of the electoral process is at stake. Decisive measures should be taken to restore public trust and uphold the principles of democracy”.
In the same vein, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) urged the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, “to promptly establish a joint, credible, transparent, effective, and broad-based investigation into the allegations.”
Urging the IGP to “identify, arrest, name and shame the suspected perpetrators and their sponsors of these grave human rights crimes”, SERAP said the police and INEC must ensure effective prosecution of the riggers and thugs, regardless of their political status or affiliations.
In the letter signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP said: “If INEC is to live up to its constitutional and statutory responsibilities, it must take bold and effective measures to combat the culture of impunity for electoral bribery and violence in the country.
“The recurring cases of electoral bribery and violence make a mockery of Nigeria’s electoral process and participatory democracy. INEC must acknowledge its own limitations and now embrace a transparent, credible, inclusive and broad-based investigation into the allegations of grave electoral offences in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states.”
“Electoral integrity is critical to a legitimate democracy. When the integrity of that process is compromised, the legitimacy of our government and the public confidence in our public institutions is seriously undermined.”
“The right to vote is fundamental and is the essence of a democratic society, and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government. Nigerians should have the final say in the election of governmental officials. Persistent cases of bribery and violence in the country’s elections gravely violate Nigerians’ right to vote, which is central to the effective participation of every citizen.
“Unless there is a transparent, effective, credible, inclusive and broad-based investigation into these allegations, and perpetrators and their sponsors are named and shamed and brought to justice, impunity for these electoral crimes will continue. And citizens will continue to lose confidence in the electoral process.”