An Open Letter To INEC & Security Chiefs On Anambra Main & Supplementary Gubernatorial Polls (Letter of Utmost Public Importance, Onitsha Nigeria, 27th of November, 2013)
About Us: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law-INTERSOCIETY is based in Onitsha, Southeast of Nigeria. Our main area of focus is: promotion of democracy through public advocacy. We also work on good governance, security and peace as well as general advocacy on promotion of civil liberties and the rule of law in Nigeria and beyond. We recognize and promote through public advocacy all the rights contained in the UN Declaration on Human Rights with the exception of “homo rights”.
Roles & Commendation On Main Poll: The maximum protection during the main poll that took place on 16th of November, 2013, of lives and properties of the People of Anambra State and their non residents including “poll observers”, rights groups and activists, representatives of 23 participating political parties resident outside the State, representatives of the mass media, mass of imported and hired cultists, poll riggers and other malicious individuals and groups, is unreservedly commended. That no single live or critical property was reported lost in spite of perception of violence of immense magnitude, is a feat too many on the part of the Nigerian security agencies. Dwarfing perceived securitization loopholes in a State with dynamic mass of people, intimidating capital resources and legions of financial kingpins capable of “doing and undoing”, is one of the biggest security feats of our times.
To this extent, our immense thanks go to the Inspector General of Police, Mr. M. Abubakar and his two DIGs-Philemon Leha and A. Udorji, the Chief Security Officer & Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, the DG of DSS (SSS) and his Anambra team, the Chief of Army Staff and his Onitsha 302 Artillery & Engineering Cantonment, the Chief of Naval Staff & his Ogbaru-Anambra Base, the DG of the National Intelligence Agency and the Commandant General of the Nigerian Security & Civil Defense Corps, the INEC as well as the Nigerian media of conscientious segment.
Condemnation: The administrative lapses that trailed the important poll, having been critically x-rayed, are condemnable. By allocation, INEC shares 60% of the condemnation, while the participating political parties and the voting public take the remainder on 30% and 10% ratio respectively. Complaints such as late arrival of voting materials, sharp practices and compromises in Idemmili North LGA and untidy voters' register leading to some names missing therein, should be blamed on the Independent National Electoral Commission. During the voters' revalidation exercise in September 2013, there were sufficient complaints over dearth of INEC personnel and materials as well as restriction of the exercise to electoral wards, instead of polling registration centers. This denied thousands of registered voters the opportunity to revalidate their names and records. We raised several complaints all to no avail.
All the 23 participating political parties are blamed in respect of some alleged anomalies in the voters' register. This is because of their failure to examine critically the template of the register given to them for evaluation on 16th of November, 2013; 30 days to the poll. Instead, they turned blind eyes and converted same as an instrument for procurement of voters. The APC agents in particular, were caught in cameras procuring voters and copying their voters' cards' polling unit numbers in homes and streets across the State using the print out of the template.
The not-too impressive voters' turnout is also substantially blamed on political parties, particularly the militant ones. This is as a result of unconventional methods that characterized the poll's campaigns, which included importation of fake voters and poll riggers, spreading of dangerous rumors, raising false alarms, defacing and destruction of campaign posters and bill boards of their opponents and militant campaigns including planting of booing and jeering crowds in their opponents rallies and campaigns. One of such rumors that kept thousands of voters away was the eleventh hour rumor to the effect that the candidate of the APGA “has been disqualified”. Totality of these scared thousands of voters and kept them away from voting points, especially in the area of their feeling of imminence of violence on poll day. The registered voters who got their names missing in the voters' register are also partly blamed. Their lukewarm attitude during the voters' revalidation exercise was alarming and shocking.
On a general note, the aggregation of the foregoing cannot annul any poll derived upon same in strictest and sound legal sense. Also, the attitude of Nigeria's nongovernmental organizations including rights activists towards pre-poll advocacy in Nigeria needs to be surgically reversed. The absolutist attachment to dollar-driven advocacies such as poll monitoring is utterly parasitic and unhealthy to the growth of democracy and civil liberties in Nigeria. Keeping mute or showing lukewarm attitude towards pre-poll conducts because of their zero or little dollar attraction is one of the banes of Nigeria's social-political growths including consolidation of democratic culture on the country's polity.
The roles and pronouncements of some nongovernmental organizations on Anambra governorship poll, ferried into Anambra State from the Southwest axis, clearly depict parasitism and vendetta mission. Had the voices of 50% of these “poll expert analysts” heard in like manner during the pre-poll season, the anomalies under reference would have been critically tackled or reduced. The media instrument and its roles in the poll were clearly one sided, devoid of objectivity. One of the media establishments that should be reprimanded by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission is the Independent African Television. Most of its broad casting styles are strange and unknown to universal best practices.
Following from the foregoing, therefore, it is a clear evident that the media in Nigeria is losing its corporate image day in day out. It has been hijacked and turned into an “ethnic jingoist mouthpiece”. The fairness with which it hitherto was known for is waning. Demonizing a people for making a priceless electoral choice and stigmatizing the process proper is generationally unforgiving. The attitude of demonizing events that happen outside the Southwest zone and canonizing such within its zone, amount to waging warfare against independent and socially conscionable people.
Supplementary Poll: We urge all the stakeholders in the Anambra Gubernatorial poll as mentioned above not to rest on their oars as per the fixed supplementary poll. While the efforts of the named security agencies and their chiefs are to be sustained, those of the Independent National Electoral Commission should be stepped up. Arresting and arraigning the Commission's alleged compromised staff(s) in the important poll under reference are commendable, but giving the People of Anambra State a successful and participatory supplementary poll capable of judicial irrevocability, is more important. To this end, alarms, media propaganda and threats of withdrawal from participation by some aggrieved political parties should be clearly viewed as “distraction and diversion game plans” to confuse and mislead the Commission and security agencies with a view to afflicting the State with mass rigging and contaminating the main results.
The supplementary poll is not owned or meant for political parties, whether aggrieved or not. It is purely the sacred property and rights belonging to the electorates so affected. Any relaxation of security arrangements and loosening of the preparation's tightness will spell doom and lead to the affected areas particularly those in Idemmili North with 90,000 registered voters being overrun with mass injection of fake voters and hired thumb-printers. The reported Ido-Osi and Umunnachi vote manufacturing warehouses of the immediate past are still fresh in our memories.
Measures To Be Used: The affected areas with 210 polling units and a total registered voting population of 113, 113, scattered in 15 LGAs should be forensically and manually policed. The voters' register for the areas must originate from INEC and duly confirmed by the Commission. The Commission's adhoc and substantive staffs to be used especially in Idemmili North must be thoroughly scrutinized. Only registered voters found in the register and duly accredited should be allowed to vote. No accreditation of voters should be allowed once it passes 12.30pm on the said poll day. All voting materials should be delivered as scheduled in the affected places.
Of all the 210 polling units affected, those in Idemmili North numbering 160 polling units, comprising Abatate (33 units), Ideani (8 units), Nkpor 1 (16 units), Nkpor 2 (40 units), Ogidi 1 (28 units), Ogidi 2 (23 units), Uke (3 units) and Umuoji (9 units) should be given extra care and attention both biometric and securitization wise. The area is prone to mass rigging because of its so called “90, 000 registered voters”. Similar attentions should be given to remaining 50 polling units with some 23, 133 registered voters, which are scattered in the remaining 14 LGAs of Anambra State.
The possibility of the desperate politicians and their parties sponsoring violence to mar or rubbish the important exercise is also not ruled out. Effective security patrols across the major cities of the State should also be put in place. If they cannot participate in the open, they can do it in secret; if they can do it in secret, they can overrun the place and rig if taken for granted; and they cannot have their way, they can afflict violence of substantial magnitude in the State or any part thereof. They must be watched round the clock because they are grievously desperate!
Yours Comradely for democratically grounded Nigerian Project:
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chairman of the Board
Comrade Justus Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk