By Chimezie Godfrey
A Coalition of over 120 Civil Society Organizations have urged the National Assembly to blacklist the NCC officials who colluded and falsified information and falsehood to mislead it on the matter of the electronic transmission of electoral votes.
The Coalition in a press conference on Monday in Abuja decried the fact that this act of falsehood portends great danger and risk to the sustenance of the country’s democracy.
Speaking on behalf of the Coalition, the Executive Director, Social Action, Vivian Bello said that this advocacy should serve as an open letter to the Inspector General of Police and the National Assembly respectively.
Bello recalled that Nigerians watched in awe as officials of the NCC, including ranking ones who ordinarily were expected to know better and act with greater sense of responsibility and patriotism, took to the floor of the NASS to unleash a rehearse of groundless fabrications, and deliberate falsehoods.
She pointed out that the officials also committed the error of self-contradictions with the sole purpose of taking down proposed electronic transmission of votes, which is a key and critical element pivotal to credible elections in Nigeria and of which the NASS had slated for deliberation and passage.
Bello added that the NCC officials, in their quest to achieve their insidious agenda, contradicted all factual and evidential prognosis, data, etc, that clearly point to the fact that electoral votes can be effectively transmitted electronically.
She stressed that the benefits of electronic transmission of votes cannot be over emphasized as it drastically reduces credibility issues associated with manual transmission of voting tallies during elections, adding that all over the globe, countries and enduring democracies have toed this line of practice.
Bello pointed out that here in Nigeria the electoral body INEC has courageously slated that votes can be transmitted electronically, and that it has the capacity to carry out this, which it declared after due and exhaustive synergetic works and consultations with all machineries and entities relevant to the process including the NCC.
She therefore said that it is the height of perfidy for NCC top officials to embark on deliberate falsehood, hoodwink and mislead gullible lawmakers and by extension Nigerians on the electronic transmission of votes in Nigeria.
She pointed out that what the officials have done is a huge betrayal of public trust and therefore criminal, adding that they have also treated the constitution of Nigeria which they swore on oath of honesty before the NASS, with contempt and scorn, and that both are serious infractions that need to be held to account.
The Executive Director, therefore disclosed that in the light of the foregoing, the Coalition demand the blacklist of the NCC officials, among other actions.
She said,”What the NCC officials have done is a huge betrayal of public trust and therefore criminal. They have also treated the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which they swore on oath of honesty before the floor of the NASS, with contempt and scorn. Both are serious infractions that need to be held to account.
“We therefore strongly and unequivocally demand as follows; that the National Assembly blacklists the NCC officials who colluded and presented falsified information and falsehoods to to mislead it on a matter as critical to sustainable democracy and national stability as the electronic transmission of electoral votes.
“That the Inspector General of Police promptly sets in motion, machinery to arrest, investigate and prosecute all the NCC officials who participated in this ignominious perfidy at the floor of the National Assembly … This action should be extended to any other external collaborators who participated in this criminal plot.
“That the Inspector General of Police must within 14-days from today carry out the above duty, failure of which Nigerians will be mobilized across all divides to promptly pursue other course or courses within our powers as citizens of this country to compel him to act as should.
“That the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC should ignore all the orchestrations of anti-democratic shenanigans and courageously dedicate itself to conducting a free, fair and credible elections and importantly transmit voters tallies electronically as they have the backing of Nigerian citizens.
“That Nigerians knowing who their real enemies are should mobilize against all their representatives that voted against electronic transmission of vote tallies.”
According to Bello, the Coalition also called on President Buhari to give assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021.
They equally called for the deletion of the proviso to Section 52(2) that requires transmission of election results by INEC to be subjected to the clearance of NCC and NASS since that fly on the face of every known norm or practice in any electoral process globally, especially as it erodes the independence of INEC and will ultimately lead to electoral crises which President Buhari must not allow to happen.
“The deletion of Section 65 that has removed the powers of INEC to review results declared under duress or in contravention of electoral law and guidelines.
“The deletion of Section 88 which has completely monetized the democratic process s only moneybags can contest elections in Nigeria as campaign expenses for the presidential election have been increased from N1 billion to N15 billion, the governorship election, from N200 million to N5 billion, Senate poll, from N40 million to N15 billion, House of Representatives, from N30 million to N500 million, and the State House of Assembly elections, from N10 million to N500 million. In a country where the national minimum wage is N30,000 only the stupendously rich who may have stolen public fund or sponsored by drug barons can run for public offices,”Bello stressed.
The names of the over 120 civil society organizations and their leaders who endorsed the statement include; Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria – Chima Williams, Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action)- Vivian Bello, Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development – Styven Obodoekwe, and Campaign for Transformative Governance endorsed by Jaye Gaskia.
Others are; The People Alternative Political Movement (TPAP-) – Omotoye Olorode, Liberation Party – Awapetu Idowu, Health of Mother Earth Foundation – Nnimmo Bassey, Center for Accountability and Public Participation Africa – Philip Jakpor, andthe Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) endorsed by its Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, among many others.