…calls for suspension of further action on electoral process

The Nigerian Christian Elders Coalition (NCEC) has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of deliberately bringing Nigeria’s 2023 presidential poll into terrible disrepute, thereby destroying the legitimacy of the election.

The coalition’s reaction follows the pattern of controversies that has continued to trail the presidential election held on Saturday, 25 February.

Addressing journalists in Abuja on Monday, the NCEC spoke vehemently against what it called antics of INEC and its chairman, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, specifically in the flagrant abuse of both the Electoral Act 2022 Section 60(5) and the INEC 2022 Guidelines and Regulations for Conduct of Elections Clause 38.

The group said that INEC arrogantly sidestepped and bypassed its own rules, guidelines and principles set up by itself for the 2023 presidential election and engaged in broad day elections brigandage.

Sarah Omakwu, leader of the group and Senior Pastor of Family Worship Centre (FWC), told journalists at the briefing that the conduct of the presidential election fell below the threshold of transparent, free and credible election.

“The most distressing aspect of the conduct of the election is the refusal of INEC to electronically transmit the results of voting directly from the polling units to IREV Platform as required by the Electoral Act,” Omakwu said.

“This failure is unbelievable and surprising considering that the heart of the new electoral law is the mandatory electronic transmission of results to enhance the credibility of the process,” she said.

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Omakwu, who was joined by Rev William Okoye, Associate Prof Sam Amadi, Prof Haruna Dabin, Rev Austin Kemie, among others, further said in the light of flagrant violations of the law regarding the conduct of the election, which include (but not limited to) “rampant voting by underage children; collusion with the security agencies, in several documented cases, to perpetuate violence; and the fraudulent tempering and falsification of results, etc., INEC has thus put the legitimacy of the 2023 presidential election results in terrible disrepute”.

She said that INEC had used this reliable method in off-season governorship elections in Anambra, Osun and Ekiti States without significant hitches and that the commission had also recently demonstrated the reliability of electronic transmission and given assurance that it was ready to use the BVAS both for accreditation and electronic transmission of results in the 2023 general elections.

“We can recall several instances when either the Chairman of the Commission or the Commissioner in charge of Voter Education had assured the nation that election results would be transmitted electronically from the polling units,” Omakwu said.

“Today, it is sad that INEC that led in the enactment of a new Electoral Act that mandates electronic transmission has refused to comply with this provision and rendered the results that it is presently collating dubious and unreliable.

“We are shocked that many hours after a national election, INEC could not transmit the results as required. This is in addition to many other fundamental breaches of the electoral law, including late commencement of voting across the country, non-voting in many polling units and widespread reports of logistic failure as highlighted by foreign and domestic observers,” she said.

The coalition noted “the failure to comply with the electoral law and INEC’s regulation and guidelines on the conduct of elections, particularly Section 60 of the Electoral Act 2022 and Clause 38 of the Regulation and Guidelines for the Conduct of elections 2022”, which make it mandatory for INEC to electronically transmit the results of elections from the polling units.

“We therefore call on INEC to suspend further action on the election results and then explain to Nigerians the circumstances for this grave violation of the electoral law and the administrative actions it intends to take to rectify this breach of integrity of the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections,” Omakwu said.

“As Christian leaders, we would continue to pray for peace and unity in Nigeria and it is thus our prayer that INEC will immediately do the right thing by cancelling the presidential elections so as to restore the integrity of the electoral process in Nigeria,” she said.