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2023: Ex-REC, group raise alarm over plan to scuttle polls

The Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) and the immediate past Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Enugu State, Chief Emeka Ononamadu,…

The Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) and the immediate past Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Enugu State, Chief Emeka Ononamadu, have raised the alarm over plan to scuttle the 2023 general elections through subterranean scheming.

They raised the alarm on Friday in Abuja at a media conference, following reported court cases instituted to stop the usage of technology including the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and the electronic transmission of results for the 2023 elections.

The Executive Director, CTA, Faith Nwadishi and the ex-INEC official, Ononamadu, said the fear being expressed by Nigerians and recently by the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) should not be dismissed.

Nwadishi said that recent developments had necessitated that Nigerians should act fast, especially that the 2023 elections, is just 133 days away.

“There is no doubt that Nigerian’s election administration has witnessed a steady improvement in credibility, acceptability, and inclusivity, from the conduct of 2015 and 2019 as well as the 103 off-cycle elections and bye-elections after the 2019 general elections,” she said.

According to her, INEC has done well in meeting the expectations of Nigerians and the international community in the preparations for the 2023 elections, including actions on the just concluded continuous voter registration exercise and other innovations introduced by the commission to increase transparency and ensure credibility of the electoral process.

“The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, had said that the cleaning up of the voter registration data using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) that combines the fingerprint and the facial authentication of registered voters is completed,” Nwadishi said.

She noted that President Muhammadu Buhari is a beneficiary of free elections in 2015 and 2019 due to the card reader technology introduced by INEC, and had repeatedly promised to bequeath a legacy of free, fair and credible elections in 2023.

She said, “As a beneficiary of free election, one of which led to the defeat of an incumbent, Nigerians strongly believe that there is nothing that will make the President to renege on that important promise to Nigerians.”

She said that plans by some politicians to compromise the 2023 elections, including pushing for the removal of INEC chairman, deactivation of the BVAS and stoppage of electronic transmission of results are becoming louder and should be acted upon.

“CTA therefore condemns such plans and urges Nigerians to rally around INEC and its current leadership to resist any attempt to halt the use of the BVAS machines as well as protect the INEC chairman and national commissioners from any form of intimidation, and undue pressure.

“Nigerian’s must insist on the use of the BVAS and the electronic transmission of results from the polling units (PUs). We deserve a better democracy with credible elections as its foundation. Nigerians will no longer fold their arms and watch any electoral progress we have made wiped out by the real enemies of our democracy,” she said.

On his part, Ononamadu said, “There is no smoke without fire. It is important to note that over the past five years down the line, incremental achievements have been recorded, which everyone could see. During the concluding parts of the Continuous Voter Register (CVR) exercise, Nigerian were coming out and willing because of the deployment of technology.

“Most people holding and carefully guarding their Permanent Voters Card (PVCs) are doing so because of the deployment of technology. Those who didn’t participate in the past were not too sure if their votes would count. Now that technology has given them rare hope, I do not think that there should any controversy around it.

“INEC has been deploying technology and I do not think it would stop. But we are in this country such that during the military days how an election was truncated by one group with overnight court judgement. That fear has not left Nigeria and we are still witnesses to several court rulings some of which came a day or two before elections. We cannot wait until these things happen,” Ononamadu said.

He also urged security agencies and the judiciary to rise to the occasion and not be used to truncate the democratic development of the nation and the well-being of the citizenry.

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