Saturday, 14 March 2015

Consequences Of Importing Ethnic Cleansing Into The Distribution Of Permanent Voters’ Cards In Nigeria(Part One)

Jega; INEC Chairman


Professor Attahiru M. Jega
Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
INEC Headquarters, Plot 436 Zambezi Crescent
Maitama, P.M.B. 0184, FCT, Garki, Abuja, Nigeria


Consequences Of Importing Ethnic Cleansing Into The Distribution Of Permanent Voters’ Cards In Nigeria(Part One)

The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law formally acknowledges your Commission’s letter to us dated 17th February 2015 and referenced INEC/CH/GC/073/1. The  referenced letter follows our earlier letter to your Commission dated 10th February 2015 and titled Healing The Wounds Of 2015 Polls’ Shift: What INEC & Service Chiefs Must Do. We also received another letter from the Chief of Defense Staff of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria dated 25th February 2015 relating to the same issue. We have since replied or responded to the two referenced letters. Our response to yours was contained in our public statement dated 24th February 2015 and titled INEC Chairman’s Letter To Intersociety: Our Position. A copy of it is hereby attached for your perusal.

Our Involvement In Pre-Election Advocacy:
We have over the years frowned at the age-long attitude of the CSOs in Nigeria, which pay little or no attention to pre-poll advocacy and much attention to poll monitoring. This is fundamentally wrong and it is caused by foreign donors’ interest; which appears focused on monitoring of election and issuance of reports. Our irrevocable position remains that CSOs must proactively and actively engage electoral process at all times and electoral process includes announcement of election dates, registration and updating of voters, issuance and distribution of temporary or permanent voters’ cards, general management of the National Register of Voters by your Commission, processes and procedures for the polls, party primaries, election campaigns, pre election court processes, distribution of poll materials, pre election security, election proper, announcement of election results and declaration of winners and losers; post election security and court processes. We are resoundingly glad that our entry into pre election advocacy as per 2015 polls in Nigeria will eternally remain a reference point particularly as it concerns our exposition of PVC distribution fraud and its ongoing ethnic cleansing handling styles.

Ethnic Cleansing In The Distribution Of PVCs:
We are not in the know or aware of any pre election management in Nigeria’s history that had suffered ethnic bias like the 2015 pre-election polls handling particularly as it concerns the distribution and issuance of the Permanent Voters’ Cards. For the first time in Nigeria, ethnic cleansing has been so introduced and maintained as a major informal policy of INEC under your professorial midwifery.

But for our courageous exposition of the referenced grave anomalies, the 2015 polls would have been conducted under clean up the slaves and enthrone the slave masters circumstances. Fears of the foregoing are still expected in the rescheduled polls.

Till date, complaints of ethnic exclusion and ostracism in the ongoing distribution and issuance of PVCs have remained torrential. In Lagos State, with 40% non indigenous registered voting population, several complaints have been made by non indigenes saying they cannot access their PVCs because some compromised INEC staff connived with the State ruling party to deny them access to their PVCs. Their PVCs are popularly believed to have been destroyed, hidden or deliberately misplaced officially. Amuwo-Odofin, Alimosho, Yaba, Sulurere and Ojo areas or LGAs are worse hit. Protests were recently carried out in the State by the Union of Non-Indigenes in Lagos saying that 70% of them registered to vote have been denied their PVCs. The group’s Chairman, Mr. Francis Abang said they could not trace their PVCs where they registered as voters. The Lagos INEC office merely responded by relieving two staff of their duties; yet the problem remains fundamentally unaddressed (Source: Nigerian Pilot Newspaper February 23, 2015).

Further, the Plateau State branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria similarly protested to INEC on March 2nd 2015 accusing your Commission of a deliberate policy designed to deny Christians in the State of their rights to vote by misplacing or hording their PVCs. One of the Christian residents in the State recently told Intersociety how he accidentally ran into a gathering in one of the electoral quarters populated by Hausa Muslims and saw his PVC and those of his neighbors; over six kilometers away from his registration center. He said himself and his neighbors have severally gone to their registration centers in the State to pick their PVCs only to be told that theirs are not available.

He also told Intersociety that calls he made to his friends and relatives living in some northern States ended with the same complaints. In Kawo district of Kaduna State as well as in Nasarawa and Sabon Gari LGAs of Kano State, the story is not different. PVCs of non indigenes and minorities are reportedly destroyed, diverted, misplaced or hoarded for the purpose of denying them their rights to vote. This is in addition to reported proliferation of registration and voting centers in Muslim strongholds and scanty provision of same in the areas populated by non Muslims and non indigenes and minorities. In all, there appears to be deliberate disappearance, misplacement, defacing, diversion and destruction of PVCs belonging to minority populations particularly the Christians and non host residents in the North and Lagos State with your Commission doing little or nothing to stop it. Excuses offered by your Commission on this are not only infantile, but also a clear case of aiding and abetting. Instances are numerous to mention.

Possible Hijack Of PVCs:
The report of your Commission showing the number of PVCs so far distributed across the country is steadily contradicted and rubbished by independent sources. This has raised a deep suspicion of hijack of the PVCs by powers that be in connivance with some compromised senior and junior staff of your Commission.

 In Imo State, despite your Commission’s latest update of 9th March 2015 showing sudden and sharp increase in the number of PVCs distributed in the State; the registered voters of Owerri North LGA have slammed a civil rights suit against your Commission at the Owerri Federal High Court.

As reported by the Vanguard Newspaper of March 10, 2015; they prayed the court to compel your Commission to revert to the use of Temporary Voters’ Cards owing to your Commission’s failure to issue them with their PVCs. Yet your Commission claimed in its referenced PVC distribution update of March 9, 2015 that a total of 1, 707, 440 PVCs out of the total registered voters of 1, 803, 030 have been distributed in the State. This simply shows that only 95, 590 registered voters have not received their PVCs in the State. Imo State has 27 LGAs. Our question is: are these PVCs said to have been distributed in Imo State, in the right or wrong hands? In Kogi State, the Channels Television reported on March 7, 2015 the alarm raised by the electorates in the State over denial of their PVCs contrary to your Commission’s claims of high PVCs distribution in the State (926, 013 PVCs out of 1, 350, 883 RVs or 68%). In all these, is it not correct to say that your Commission designed PVCs and Card Readers not to ward off poll rigging but for the purpose of ethnic cleansing in the 2015 electoral process?

Theft Of PVCs:
As reported by the Vanguard Newspaper of February 27, 2015; over one million PVCs have been stolen across the country since August 2014. Some of the States where PVCs have been stolen according to your Commission are Rivers, Edo, Ebonyi, Anambra, Delta, etc. Your Commission has failed woefully to apply the wisdom of Eze-Ulu (chief priest) and his only son Oduche in the famous Bottled Leopard (Novel) as it concerns the need to embrace the white man’s religion with caution. On the same note, your Commission ought to embrace the ICT with caution. It is like operating a computer without external hard disk. Steady stealing of PVCs clearly shows that ICT age is indeed garbage in garbage out and that in ICT world, there are two traditional owners, operators and beneficiaries: malicious entities and lawful entities. For instance, while there are steady productions of anti viruses with their advancements, there are also steady productions of viruses with their advancements. In all, there must be immediate or remote malicious intents behind proliferation of PVC thefts across the country. The same wisdom above ought to have been applied by your Commission in the foregoing as well as the Card Reader controversy.

Under-Age Voting Population:
It saddens our heart that your Commission has adamantly refused to speak publicly or frontally addressed the issue of under-age voters majorly found in the Northwest and the Northeast zones. As recently as 2014, tens, if not hundreds of thousands of under-age voters turned out with their Temporary Voters’ Cards and successfully collected their PVCs at your Commission and under its watch. Their bodily ages are between 10 and 14 years registered by your Commission as 18 years and above. It is our firm view and conviction that this dastardly act is possibly geared towards shoring up the Northern Muslim population in realization of Presidency for Northern Muslims at all costs project. Despite raising the issue in our recent letters to your Commission with accompanying demands; this barefaced infraction of the Electoral Act of 2010 and the 1999 Constitution appears to have remained condoned and abetted by your Commission. Some of the recent pictures of the referenced under-age voters are hereby attached.
Uneven Voting Accreditation Procedures:
We have not rescinded our fears over the foregoing; instead, they have deepened. Just like the gross lopsidedness inherent in the distribution and issuance of the Permanent Voters’ Cards as well as registration of voters and existing polling units in the country; the possibility of your Commission applying to the letter all the voting accreditation procedures in the South during the rescheduled polls particularly the Presidential poll and relaxing same in the North particularly in the Northwest and the Northeast is very likely.

It has remained our irrevocable position that no matter the advancement of PVC’s anti poll rigging technology, once voting accreditation is compromised through group violence, threat of violence or official conspiracies; which appear to be the order of the day in the Northwest and the Northeast, any voting or balloting that takes place can never be detected.  Because of scientific and ethnic corruption of your Commission’s 2015 polls’ midwifery, we still find it very difficult to hold that the contrary will be the case in the referenced zones of the Northern Nigeria. Your Commission’s competence, ability and willingness at ensuring strict application of, and adherence to all voting accreditation procedures including use of card reader and PVCs in all the 119, 973 polling units across the country in the referenced polls irrespective of ethnic and religious landscape or grouping; have steadily diminished in the eyes of Nigerians and international watchers.

119, 973 Polling Units Or 150,000 Polling Units In Nigeria?
We have observed consistent references of your Commission including its National Commissioners, Chairman and Public Relations Officer to “150, 000 Polling Units” as the number of polling units in Nigeria where the polls will take place on 28th March and 11th April 2015. It is a public knowledge that for the purpose of the 2015 polls, the 1996 polling units of 119, 973 polling units are to be used. This is as a result of the cancellation of your Commission’s earlier plan to lopsidedly create additional 30, 027 polling units in August 2014. We firmly demand, in line with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act of the Federation 2011 that your Commission should publicly disclose the reasons behind its consistent reference to “150, 000 Polling Units in Nigeria” since January 2015 instead of the existing and generally recognized 119, 973 polling units.

Yours Faithfully,

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

Emeka Umeagbalasi, B.Sc. (Hons.) Criminology & Security Studies
Board Chairman

Uzochukwu Oguejiofor, Esq., (LLB, BL), Head, Campaign & Publicity Department

Chiugo Onwuatuegwu, Esq., (LLB, BL), Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program

Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., (LLB, BL), Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program

1.       The Secretary to the Government of the Federation
2.       The Chief of Defense Staff of the Armed Forces of Nigeria
3.       The Director General, Directorate of State Security, Federal Republic of Nigeria

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