Ahead of Nigeria’s governorship and state assembly elections rescheduled for Saturday, March 18, 2023, some Nigerian lawyers have expressed zero confidence in the ability of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct credible and hitch-free polls.
Basing their misgivings on INEC’s poor administration of the February 25 presidential election, the lawyers told THE WHISTLER that the commission cannot be taken seriously and trusted to electronically transmit results of the forthcoming elections to its public Result Viewing Portal (IReV) in compliance with its own regulations and guidelines for the polls.
The governorship elections earlier scheduled for March 11, 20223, will now be held in 28 states, with the exception of Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Ekiti, Imo, Kogi, Ondo, and Osun which fall among states that conduct off-cycle polls……Continue Reading
Having failed to promptly transmit the results of the presidential election in real-time as earlier programmed, INEC recently promised to ensure that the results of the state elections are transmitted to the IReV portal.
INEC made the promise despite the fact that it is yet to conclude transmission of the presidential election results nearly three weeks after the election was held.
“Nothing else will be acceptable to Nigerians,” the INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, had told Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) at a recent meeting, adding “All staff found to be negligent, whether they are regular or ad hoc officials, including Collation and Returning Officers, must not be involved in forthcoming elections,” and that RECS “must also immediately initiate disciplinary action where prima facie evidence of wrongdoing has been established” against such persons.
INEC Chief, Mahmood Yakubu, meets Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in Abuja.
However, what seemed like Yakubu’s words of assurance to voters were taken with a pinch of salt by lawyers who spoke separately with THE WHISTLER on Wednesday.
Abdul Mahmud, who is also a social critic and human rights advocate, told THE WHISTLER that Yakubu has shown over and over that he is incapable of conducting credible elections and as a result cannot be taken for his words.
“Look, we are dealing with an incompetent institution and election management body that is clearly not in control of its processes. Even where it is in control of its processes, you have people who are not performing up to standard, ruining the internal processes within INEC.
“We are also dealing with an election management body that is deeply corrupt. I am a lawyer and I use the word corruption because the chairman of INEC did say last week that culpable principal officers of INEC (who undermined the presidential election) would be disciplined. What are you disciplining them for if they have not committed infractions? And who is disciplining who? The bulk of responsibilities stops at the desk of the chairman of INEC.
“He was the chief returning officer of the presidential election and some of the shenanigans that have become attendant of the presidential election of February 25, 2023, should be traced to the doorsteps of the chairman of INEC, as the chief returning officer.”
Abdul Mahmud, Nigerian lawyer, social critic, and human rights advocate.
Mahmud recalled that the INEC boss gave a lot of Nigerians and the international community high hopes that with the technological improvements made to Nigeria’s electoral system, the February 25 presidential election would be one of the country’s most credible presidential polls.
“He made several promises that are on tape. I had the opportunity of sitting in my hotel room in Houston, United States, in January when he promised the world at the Chatham House in London that election results would be transmitted in real-time. He didn’t do that and he is solely responsible for the grief that has today enveloped our country. People are mourning and yet he has not told us what really happened.
“On the 25th of February, while election results were transmitted for the national assembly elections, non was done for the presidential election. And he is also giving us a promise that he will transmit the results of the governorship and state assembly elections, in a country where competition for state offices is fierce. Look, Nigerians can trust him but I won’t trust him. I don’t believe that INEC can
“INEC may have the capacity because we have spent so much in building the IT infrastructure of INEC, but do we have individuals within INEC that are moral enough to ensure that processes are made and pursued according to the book? I do not think so. So, Nigerians should trust Professor Mahmood Yakubu at their own peril,” he said.
Asked if the forthcoming governorship assembly elections could offer INEC an opportunity to repair the damage done to its image, Mahmud said the current management of the electoral umpire is “irredeemable” and must resign before “we can now begin to review INEC”.
Quoting him, “Look, let me tell you, the present leadership of INEC is irredeemable. Let’s be honest with ourselves. Place your finger on one credible election that Professor Mahmood Yakubu-led leadership of INEC has conducted since 2015 when he came on board. He began with a series of inconclusive elections. We went from Edo State to Anambra State, and in Anambra, the BVAS failed catastrophically.
“It took only 130,000 votes for Soludo to be elected as governor of Anambra State. One of the most illegitimized governors that we have in Nigeria. In a state with about 1.3 to 1.5 million voters, only about 200,000 people voted. The difference between Soludo and Valentine Ozigbo is just about 60,000 votes.
“Also, just look at the figures from the 2023 presidential election. In a country with about 93.7 million voters, slightly under 24 million Nigerians voted (and) he would tell us BVAS has worked? That is a lie. What we have seen is series and series of voter suppression. In the aftermath of the 2023 presidential election, Nigerians have been discovering all sorts of ballot papers and the EC8a in the bushes of our country, so let him conduct the governorship and state assembly elections jejeje and resign. Then we can now begin to review INEC.”
Frank Tietie, an Abuja-based lawyer, similarly expressed lack of confidence in the current INEC management, citing flawed processes of the presidential election.
Barrister Frank Tietie, Executive Director of Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER)
“What INEC fails to understand is that the requirements that have been put in the guidelines, to the extent that it would transmit election results from polling units, is a fundamental aspect of the election.
“INEC knows that it is the reason for which the electoral process can be challenged and totally set aside. As we speak, the presidential election is hanging in the balance because of the fact that INEC did not comply with the provision that election results would be transmitted from the polling units to the INEC Result Viewing Portal.
“So, if INEC does not want to go on a wide goose chase, if it does not just want to embark on something whose outcome it knows would be challenged, it has to responsibly ensure that it complies with the requirements in its guidelines which forms part of the law. If it fails to do so, all of the governorship and state assembly elections would be successfully challenged and set aside.
“So, the promise by INEC is to itself, it is a warning to itself, that it does not need to embark on a fruitless exercise, knowing certainly that the failure to ensure that that aspect of the provision, which is the transmission of results from the polling units using the BVAS machines, is fundamental to the election.”
Tietie added, “Let me tell you, I had a lot of hopes and high optimism before the presidential election that INEC was going to be compliant with not only the law but the law entirely involving its own guidelines.
“Having offered a lot of disappointments in the presidential election, I am of the view not to be hopeful that INEC would conduct credible elections.”……Continue Reading