Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Open Letter: International Community Urged To Ensure That INEC's Shoddy Preparations Do Not Lead To A Rwanda Type Genocide

International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law is a leading human rights organization from the Southeast of Nigeria headquartered in Onitsha, Anambra State. Formed in 2008, we work on: civil liberties & rule of law, democracy & good governance and security & safety.

This is the concluding part of our facts boggling letter to the leading members of the International Community, namely: the Holy Father, Pope Francis through his Apostolic Nuncio in Nigeria and the UN Secretary General through his Special Representative in Nigeria, Mohammed Ibin Chambas. Others are the High Commissioners of Britain, Australia, Canada and India in Nigeria as well as the Ambassadors of the United States of America, Federal Republic of Germany, Republic of France, Brazil, Japan, China and the Head of Delegation of the European Union to Nigeria & ECOWAS.

Below is the continuation of our findings as well as our recommendations and conclusion.

7. Further Findings: (e) High rate and incidence of under-age voting population in the North condoned by INEC. (f) Prevalence of discriminatory policies in INEC whereby stringent and strict policies like adhering to biometrics processes and ward level collection of PVCs are enforced to the letter in the South, whereas in the North, they are lowered in the guise of “high illiteracy level” considerations. (g) Use of violence including mob action and other life threatening conducts to break electoral and voting guidelines in the North particularly during voting and their tolerance by INEC. (h) Possible distribution of PVCs by proxies  (i.e. district heads & Emirs) in the North leading to high percentage distribution (evacuation) and recipients of the PVCs in the areas particularly in the troubled Northeast States of Bauchi, Yobe, Gombe, Adamawa and Taraba and insistence by INEC on stringent collection of PVCs and voting  procedures in the South.

(i) Random and arbitrary deletion of over 4million so called “double registrants” leading to their disenfranchisement and disqualification from voting in the crucial February 2015 Presidential Poll and non registration of millions of eligible adults during voters registration exercises particularly in the South. (j) Incessancy of “missing names” and “data loss”  in the INEC’s National Register of Voters leading to disenfranchisement of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of registered Nigerian voters. (k) Failure of INEC to issue PVCs to recently registered voters leading to their disenfranchisement from the referenced crucial polls. (l) Failure of INEC to dutifully carry out Voters’ Cards Transfer including deletion of successful applicants’ previous data in accordance with Section 13 (4) of the Electoral Act of 2010; leading to disenfranchisement of millions of Nigerian registered voters tagged “double registrants”. (m) Inconsistencies in INEC’s data figures with regard to total and actual number of registered voters in Nigeria including those captured in the Commission’s continuous voters registration and re-validation exercises leading to consistent issuance of  conflicting figures to Nigerians and other electoral stakeholders.

 (n) Serious suspicion of high wired scheming by INEC headship to use demographic data manipulations to manipulate the February 2015 Presidential Poll for the Northern Muslims as can be seen in its recent PVCs distribution in the North particularly in the troubled Northeast where the number of PVCs distributed in five States of Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe and Yobe is 4, 886, 499 (four million, eight hundred & eight six thousand, four hundred & ninety nine)as against 3, 944, 242 (three million, nine hundred & forty four thousand, two hundred & forty two) distributed in the entire five peaceful States of the Southeast (Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Abia and Ebonyi); whereby the PVCs distributed in Bauchi State alone (1, 502, 609) almost equals that of Anambra and Imo States put together ( 1, 544, 793) as at 13th January 2015.

8.Calls/Recommendations:  Your Excellencies are hereby called upon to: (a) Demand firmly that INEC should publicly publish comprehensive updates as a matter of uttermost immediacy, of the State- by- State and geopolitical zonal breakdown of total number of registered voters and the PVCs allocation across the country as of date.
(b) Demand firmly that the above should be done weekly until the day of the referenced polls.

(c) Demand firmly that INEC should deploy immediately its ad hoc staff for the referenced polls, which it said are over 750, 000, all over the country and in its entire 120, 000 polling units across the country for the purpose of massive distribution of PVCs by way of taking them to their owners’ homes and subjecting same to delivery on identification.

(d) Demand firmly that INEC should update Nigerians and the world on the true status of unproduced and undelivered PVCs numbering 14, 491, 866 or 10, 491, 866 (according to INEC’s latest claim yet to be independently verified), as in how possible is it for the Commission to get them from its contractors and have same distributed, barely sixteen days to the referenced polls.

(e) Demand firmly that INEC should explain to Nigerians and the world the status of millions of newly registered voters including those registered in 2014 majorly located in the South, who, till date, have not received their PVCs. When will their PVCs arrive and be given owing to the fact that there are only sixteen days to the referenced polls?

(f) Demand firmly that INEC should make public with State- by -State breakdown of the final number of those that will vote in the referenced polls with respect to those that have received PVCs as well as the number of uncollected PVCs and those not given and the number of PVCs not delivered to INEC by its contractors.

(g) Demand firmly that INEC should disclose publicly the status of over five million Igbo registered voters in the North who fled and are still fleeing the area as in what becomes of their PVCs and voting right during the referenced polls?.

(h) Demand firmly that INEC should abolish all forms of discriminatory policies and procedures intended to give the North strategic advantage over the South in the referenced polls. That is to say that there shall be uniformed voting accreditation and patterns in the entire country (i.e. use of biometrics/card reader technology must be enforced evenly in the North and the South or abandoned uniformly)

(i) Demand firmly that INEC must capture and empower every registered Nigerian voter with PVC and where it becomes untenable, easier alternatives like use of temporary voters’ cards in the referenced polls, which has now become a popular opinion in Nigeria, should be allowed.

(j) Communicate firmly to INEC the disappointment of Nigerians and their rejection in its entirety of the current grossly lopsided PVCs distribution that have seen Northern voters receiving 24, 481, 487 as against the South’s 16, 151, 298 with a whopping difference of 8, 330, 189 as well as Nigerians’ total opposition to the conduct of the referenced polls with such PVCs distribution lopsidedness.

(k) Demand firmly that every registered Nigerian voter must be enfranchised so as to give all registered voting population in the country their legitimate and justiciable rights to choose their next President democratically even if they choose a goat or coconut head or sleeping lecturer to govern them at the end.

9. Conclusion: Our writing Your Excellencies as  respected representatives of Their Excellencies, Majesties and Holinesses in our beloved country and at world stage is in consideration and recognition of your respected countries/organizations’ immense influences and contributions to our beloved country in economic, political, cultural, democratic and other social endeavors in recent past and recent times. It is obvious that INEC did not cut its coat according to its size in its current electoral midwifery in Nigeria leading to its experimentation with the lives and rights of Nigerians particularly the registered voters numbering 68, 833, 476.  These must no longer be condoned!

Several appeals Your Excellencies have made to Nigeria’s political authorities and actors on the need to maintain peace before, during and after the referenced polls; is not good enough unless the activities of  Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) particularly its preparations towards the referenced polls are brought under national and international independent watch and midwifery. This is because several scholarly studies in the world over including Nigeria have clearly revealed that 60% causes of electoral violence are traced to the doorstep of electoral commissions responsible for the conduct of such polls.  INEC’s misconducts above highlighted, if unchecked, clearly have the capacity of plunging Nigeria into chaos and bloodletting replicate of the Rwandan genocide of April to July 1994.

It is an uncontestable reality that Nigeria presently faces three way time bombs: genocidal explosion (massive hate and tribal slaughtering), resurgence of petrol insurgency in the oil Niger Delta and continuation of Islamist insurgency in the agriculture-rich Northern zone. To quench these, INEC must empower every registered Nigerian voter, irrespective of his or her ethno-religious origin; with PVC to enable him or her choose his or her next leader democratically. But where INEC enfranchises or appears to have enfranchised more Nigerians of particularly ethno-religious divides to the disadvantage of  other federating partners; then the Commission is openly inviting anarchy, chaos and bloodletting and it shall be  held liable collectively and individually if it does happen.

Yours Faithfully,

For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law

Emeka Umeagbalasi, B.Sc. (Hons.) Criminology & Security Studies
Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Chiugo Onwuatuegwu, Esq., (LL.B. BL), Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program

Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., (LL.B, BL), Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
Uzochukwu Oguejiofor, Esq., (LL.B, BL), Head, Campaign & Publicity Department

1. The Federal Executive Council of Nigeria
C/o The Secretary to the Government of the Federation
2. The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Nigeria
3. Secretary General, Amnesty International, London, UK
4. Executive Director, Human Rights Watch, USA, New York, USA

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