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Failure Of INEC, Others To Address Fraudulent Practices In Nov 2021 Anambra Governorship Poll Will Set Nigeria On Fire In 2023 – Intersociety Warns INEC, Others

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The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) is deeply shocked and dismayed that more than two months after the Anambra Governorship Poll of 6th/9th November 2021 was conducted and concluded, INEC and other critical stakeholders in the popularity and inclusivity challenged Poll have adamantly and dangerously refused to address the fraudulent practices and failures in the Poll; thereby endangering the forthcoming all-important 2023 General Polls. As a matter of fact, the refusal and failure of the critical stakeholders to frontally and punitively address the fraudulent practices, failures and other challenges as well as the entrenched culture of impunity and incorrigibility in the top management of the Independent National Electoral Commission are a clear indication that the Commission is not only not ready to give Nigerians a popular and credible outcome in the 2023 Polls but also bent on setting the country on fire.

It must be remembered that the leaders of Intersociety, the Southeast Zone of the Civil Liberties Organization (Southeast CLO) and the Southeast Based Coalition of Democracy and Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs) had on 23rd November 2021 issued a strong statement, calling for comprehensive investigations into the Anambra Governorship Election particularly identification and meting out severe punishment against those involved.

The Coalition also exposed a litany of fraudulent practices and failures associated with the Poll and demanded for their comprehensive investigations. The Coalition had also called for overhauling of the INEC’s ICT Department headed by one Chidi Nwafor as well as total reorganization of its BVAS technology and its handlers including intra organizational decentralization of its BVAS operational and control systems and skills.

Sadly and shockingly, over two months down the line, the critical stakeholders especially the top management of the Independent National Electoral Commission had swept the popularly raised complaints under the carpet. Rather than critically addressing the fraudulent practices and failures, the Commission has gone about and is still going about proclaiming the popularity challenged and digitally fraudulent Poll as ‘successful and one of the best conducted polls in the country in recent times’.

Through digital fraud and fraudulent use of BVAS, over 250,000 registered voters with PVCs who had come out to vote were disenfranchised while over 200,000 others with PVCs were forced to flee the State through state actor and non state actor armed entities’ offensive violent approaches.

The remaining 500,000 voters were denied voting by INEC through PVCs’ deprivation and voters’ revalidation hitches, etc. In the end, the Poll recorded the lowest number of total votes cast (241,000 votes out of 2.44 million registered voters) and was reduced to “an electoral college exercise”.

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For purpose of clarity, the critical stakeholders involved in the Nov 2021 Anambra Governorship Poll are the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the participated political parties and their candidates numbering 18, particularly APC, APGA and PDP; the Nigeria Police Force, the SSS (DSS), the Nigerian Army and other personnel of the Armed Forces, the Paramilitaries including NSCDC, NYSC; the Government of Anambra State, the accredited CSOs, the mass media and the electorates.

It was on account of these that the Coalition demanded for comprehensive investigations concerning roles played by them collectively and individually.

We have since investigated and found key members of the leading political parties especially those entrusted with running their campaigns to be part of the fraudulent practices and failures.

Strong circumstantial pieces of evidence have continued to indicate that key figures manning their parties’ campaigns were brazenly engaged in double standards including sabotaging their parties and their flag bearers and collecting and pocketing millions of naira.

Some were strongly accused of anti party activities for collecting millions from rival parties to sabotage their parties and candidates while others reportedly collected huge sums from their parties and Governors and released paltry for their parties’ campaigns and related others.

It is therefore the duty of the top leaders of the political parties involved to do the needful such as to comprehensively take stock and carry out investigations to identify back stabbers and sell outs among them ahead of the country’s upcoming crucial polls of 2023.

Again, Intersociety wishes to align itself with the joint position of the Coalition as contained in their statement of 23rd November 2021 and they included comprehensive investigations into: the cause(s) of widespread failure of the INEC’s Bi-modal Voters’ Capturing System Machines (BVAS) in many or 60%/70% of the Anambra State’s 5,720 polling units and 326 collation centers and roles played by the INEC’s Abuja headquarters and its ICT headship and the deployed ICT HODs including the INEC’s National Director of ICT, Chidi Nwafor and his two top confidants/partners/top ICT staffers: Oladunjoye Abimbola (Ms) and Agwu Ama Ibom and other members of their clique including the HOD Rivers (who was in charge of Aguata), HOD Ebonyi, HOD Enugu, HOD Akwa Ibom (who was in charge of Anambra West/East) and former HOD, Delta (who was in charge of Ihiala).

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As the Coalition correctly asked in their joint statement of 23rd November 2021, Intersociety is also raising some critical questions and ask as follows: Is it not correct to say that only the trio of the INEC’s top ICT heads (Nwafor, Abimbola and Ama Ibom) and members of their clique are left or dangerously allowed to have access to the pass codes of the BVAS machines or their operational codes and controls? Is it not correct to say that INEC’s ICT is presently manned by persons that are integrity challenged?

Is it not correct to say that BVAS machines failed woefully in many or about 60%/70% of the State’s polling units and collation centers? Is it also not correct to say that several places where BVAS failed, manual voting was used? Is it correct to say, for instance, that in Ebenebe Ward 2 under Awka North where manual voting was substantially used, BVAS machines deployed in nine of the ten polling units have disappeared or gone missing without traces since then? Is it not correct to say that in Aguleri Ward 1 under Anambra East, there was substantial resort to manual voting in majority of its polling units? In the case of manual voting in several areas due to widespread BVAS failure, does Electoral Act of 2010 as amended allow room for such?

Can BVAS machine fail to accredit voters but turnaround to allow voting? Is it not correct to say that INEC’s BVAS hitech rigging strategies have now been customized in Nigeria and have come to stay?

How truly independent, neutral, impartial, uncompromised, un-purchasable and credible is the INEC’s Directorate of ICT and its senior technical handlers?

Questions Arising From New Findings

Is it correct to say that staggering N4b was given to INEC for Anambra Governorship Poll, out of which the State INEC Secretariat received N1b? If true, how well or otherwise was the money spent and what was it used for?

Is it not correct to say that INEC is structurally and inherently immoral that many of its statutory staffers worked their way to remain in one location for a decade, if not decades until retirement? Is it correct to say that a good number of INEC staffers have remained in Anambra for 15 years without shift, if not more and if true, is it a standard practice in the Federal Civil Service Agencies including INEC?

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In this regard, too, is the Anambra INEC’s Admin Sec (Chidi Duruaku) in charge and doing his work correctly? Is it correct to say that one Chinwe Onukwuba (AEO OPS-Aguata) was openly caught with thousands of dollars or equivalent of millions of naira at Ihiala (during rerun) to procure result sheets?

If true, what has been the investigation outcome or has it been swept under the carpet? Is it truly correct to say that the trio of Chinwe Onukwuba (AEO-OPS Aguata), Chidi Duruaku (Admin Sec) and Comfort Umoren (Orumba North) are integrity challenged and morally questionable in connection with their duty postings in Anambra State?

Is it correct to say that they have respectively been in one duty area (Anambra) for over six to ten years, if not more? What about one Amadi Oko of Awka South INEC?

Finally, it is our firm stand and call that there shall be massive reshuffling and redeployment/movements of all INEC staffers including National and State Resident Commissioners and other statutory staffers across the country.

The present senior directors of the Commission’s ICT shall be overhauled and they particularly include its three ring leaders mentioned above (Its Director, Chidi Nwafor and his two sub heads: Abimbola Oladunjoye and Agwu Ama Ibom).

It is our strong demand that they shall be redeployed and thoroughly investigated and severely punished if found culpable. INEC must also go dually digital and manual by introducing electronic voting to operate side by side with manual voting.

The electronic voting shall be styled after off polling booth but electronically timed and regulated voting-whereby voters will have the option of either going to the polling units to vote or staying off same and still vote.

The introduction of dual processes of electronic and manual voting will encourage popular voters’ participation, reduce costs of conducting polls and de-escalate and quench poll tensions and security threats and eliminate Election Day fraudulent practices including vote buying, snatching of ballot boxes and result sheets, doctoring of results and checkmating poll militarization and thuggery and destruction of lives and properties.

Signed:

For: International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law

Principal Officers: Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chinwe Umeche Esquire and Chidimma Eva Udegbunam Esquire

Intersociety Contacts: +2348174090052, info@intersociety-ng.org

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