Use Saturday’s Elections to Redeem INEC’s Image, TMG Tells Yakubu

•      Urges security agencies to stop voters’ suppression in five states

Gboyega Akinsanmi

The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has challenged the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu to conduct Saturday’s elections fairly and transparently to redeem the image of the electoral institution.

TMG, Nigeria’s foremost independent civil society election observation organisation, further challenged security agencies nationwide to stop voters’ harassment and suppression in five states namely Abia, Bauchi, Kano Lagos and Rivers.

The Chairman of TMG, Auwal Rafsanjani, made these remarks in a statement he released on Friday, tasking the electoral body to ensure smooth distribution of election materials, as well as working BVAS machines and also immediate upload of results on the IReV portal.

Rafsanjani said, “Once again, INEC is promising a smooth electioneering process. INEC has been granted judicial leeway to reconfigure the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and promised to use the device judiciously to deliver its mandate having learnt from the shortcomings of the February 25 elections.

“INEC is also promising to ensure that the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal will deliver real time results. Moreover, it has noted the hiccups associated with the distribution of electoral materials on the day of the election and promised that the gubernatorial and State assemblies’ elections will be a different ball game.”

While acknowledging INEC’s promises as a mark of commitment to delivering credible polls, Rafsanjani urged INEC to live up to its words this time around, observing that its performance in this regard in the just concluded presidential election was abysmal.

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Rafsanjani also observed that delayed commencement of voting as a result of the late arrival of INEC officials and incomplete setting up of polling units should not be part of Saturday’s narratives.

Furthermore, according to TMG’s chairman, the display of ballot papers by highly placed individuals as seen in the last elections should be discouraged.”

Rafsanjani also called on security agencies to work with INEC to ensure that security issues witnessed during last election does not repeat, adding that security agencies should be more effective in discharging their duties in the forthcoming elections.

Rafsanjani further urged Nigerians to come out and vote, saying INEC must adhere strictly to the electoral act, adding that electoral offenders must be punished in line with laws.

As an aftermath of the February 25, 2023 election, Rafsanjani said: “TMG is observing different actions, comments and inactions of those directly or indirectly involved in the elections such as political parties, their candidates and their supporters.

“In some states, citizens are being threatened on their perceived choice to exercise their franchise overtly and covertly. In states such as Lagos, Abia, Bauchi, Kano and Rivers states for instance, citizens are being threatened, intimidated and harassed on the perception of supporting political opponents,” Rafsanjani said.

TMG’s chairman, therefore, challenged security agencies “to up their game and support INEC, election observers and other law abiding citizens to ensure that hoodlums and political thugs do not have their way to disenfranchise citizens.”

Rafsanjani commended professionalism displayed by the security agencies in the last elections, urging security agencies including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission officials, to double their efforts aimed at maintaining peace and in reducing the incidence of vote trading.

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He said: “TMG continues to commend enthusiasm demonstrated by Nigerians and their good conduct and orderly behaviour in the February 25, 2023 elections.

“TMG has carried out sensitisation and awareness creation rallies in the states urging electorates to shun apathy and come out again en masse to cast and defend their votes through all legal and peaceful means.

“There must be strict adherence to the Electoral Act 2022 by everyone involved in the electioneering process. Electoral offenders of any kind must be punished under the laws of the country to dissuade others from perpetrating electoral offences in Nigeria.”

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