Group Warns INEC Over Alleged Plans To Rig 2019 Elections
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), under the leadership of its chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu of registering foreigners, especially from Niger Republic, ahead of the 2019 elections in the country.
The group raised the alarm in a communiqué titled “Our case against 2019 elections preparations” which was made available to journalists on Sunday, after their meeting on Friday in Lagos state.
They further alleged that part of the plans to rig the election is the haste by the federal government to construct and complete a rail line from Kano, through Dambatta, Kazaure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina, Jibia and terminate in Maradi in the Niger Republic.
The communiqué was signed by Yinka Odumakin (South-West); Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South); Prof. Chigozie Ogbu (South-East) and Dr Isuwa Dogo ( Middle Belt).
The leaders, who expressed concern about the 2019 general elections, restated their demand for the suspension of the current Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, pending the investigation of the underage voter scandal in Kano.
They stated, “Equally worrisome is the intelligence report at our disposal that a large number of mercenary voters have been registered from neighbouring countries especially from Niger Republic under the continuous voter registration which could have been one of the reasons why the Federal Government is in a haste to construct a rail from Kano, through Dambatta, Kazaure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina, Jibia and terminate in Maradi, Niger Republic. Money has been appropriated for this in the 2018 budget.”
“Five clear months after the promise and prompt conclusion of the assignment by the team he set up, the INEC chairman has refused to release the report which would necessarily have necessitated a nationwide interrogation of the voter registry.
“Information at our disposal is that the report of the committee is so damning and that is the reason why he is doing a macabre dance on it. How on earth can we trust a man doing such over an issue of public knowledge to be fair on matters relating to free and fair elections that would not be in the public glare?
“We demand the immediate release of the INEC report on the Kano underage voter’s scandal and interrogation of the voter registry by a judicial commission with representatives from international and local elections observers to check cases of underage voters and foreign mercenaries before the 2019 elections. This is very necessary as INEC cannot be a judge in its own case.”
“To ensure equity, they also demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari should “rejig the nation’s security apparatus now…and reconstitute the security apparatus so as to earn the confidence of all communities in Nigeria.”
However, in its reaction to the allegations, the INEC Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, challenged those raising the claims to come out with concrete evidence on the matter.
He said INEC operates an open door policy and any alien spotted in the register would be removed immediately, stating that the voter register would be displayed before Permanent Voter Cards would be issued.
The INEC director said, “If anyone is alleging that there is irregular registration, we display the register and they should furnish us with evidence of such illegality. If someone who is not entitled to be in the register is on the register, we will have the opportunity of removing that person.
“So, if they can furnish us with details, I think we will be able to properly look into it because the voter register is exclusively for eligible Nigerian citizens. If there are non-Nigerians on the register, they should help us by providing us with details such as location, pictures especially since there is an opportunity to do so when the register will be displayed next month.”