Huriwa To N'ass; Presidency-: Unbundle Inec; Sack Yakubu Mahmood Now:
The prominent pro-democracy and civil Rights advocacy group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has tasked President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly on the urgent need to fundamentally UNBUNDLE, reform and reorganize the decadent and incompetent Independent National Electoral commission (INEC) by sacking the grossly ineffective Chairman Mr YAKUBU Mahmood and to pass necessary legislations to insulate the electoral commission from manipulations of any kind. HURIWA said any further delay in actualising comprehensive electoral reforms could lead Nigeria to disintegration should INEC be left to again compromise the integrity of the coming General elections in 2023, an election that will make or Mar the Country.
HURIWA made these observations in a media Statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf following a spate of contentious legal matters that have trailed the conduct of the 2019 general elections just as the Rights group expressed shock that due to the compromises and criminal collusions of the officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission the Nigerian tax payers are now burdened with the unnecessary payments of over N500 billion legal fees and other expenditures that follow such high profile matters involving mostly state governors and the President who are known to have dipped their hands into the coffers of the nation state and their respective states to prosecute the cases against them from their political rivals.
HURIWA alluded to the involvement in these cases of mostly wealthy and indeed billionaire lawyers and Senior Advocates of Nigeria whose professional fees are in several hundreds of millions of Naira just as the Rights group stated that the litigants enjoying public funding privileges often deploy publicly owned vehicles and other paraphernalia of office in the pursuit of these personal cases but which funding burdens are passed on to the people of Nigeria.
HURIWA has also told President Muhammadu Buhari that as a self acclaimed statesman who will inevitably quit office soon at the expiration of his second and final constitutional tenure in 2023 if the Supreme court rules in his favour as widely expected in government circles, he is generally expected to ensure that the electoral system and the electoral institution which are clearly deficient in many instances and suffer from self inflicted corrupt practices, they ought to be adequately fixed, systematically unbundled and fundamentally reformed so elections in Nigeria will not be characterised by expensive but avoidable post election disputes that take away huge resources from the Nigerian people and create undue panics, distractions and confusions in the States and the nation as a whole. HURIWA observed further that badly conducted polls have also often led to bloodshed and conflicts.
HURIWA also faulted the criminal and illegal practice whereby incumbent governors and the President whose re-election are bone of contention usually pay off their large retinue of lawyers and hangers on through the deployment of public funds.
HURIWA told the President and the legislators that this is the time to effect reforms in the electoral system and that retaining the Chairman of INEC who misled the nation into the most discredited and disputed national election will amount to rewarding unprofessional conducts just as the Rights group expressed the opinion that in saner climes the Chairman of INEC would have been facing prosecution for a string of allegations of misconduct including the fact that billions of taxpayers money was appropriated for the acquisition of technologies including servers for the smooth conduct of the 2019 polls only for the same commission to tell the Presidential election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) that INEC does not have servers.
"Nigerians by now should be asking INEC chairman to explain how the commission under him collected allocations in the guise of buying computers and technologies for electronic votings including servers only for the same commission to now deny ever deploying servers. Why is nobody asking INEC to render proper accounts and publish the audited accounts of INEC?"
HURIWA also cited examples of the many litigation from the North West and North Central trailing the conducts of the election to demonstrate that too many things were fundamentally wrong with INEC and the 2019 polls given that in previous elections the North usually witness the least number of post election litigation. The Rights group said Kano; Bauchi; Kaduna; Sokoto were never known for too many post election cases but because the current leadership of INEC conducted the worst election in the history of Nigeria in the recently ended polls, Nigerians have now sseen an avalanche of cases from places in the North whereby there used to be fewer or even zero post election cases.
HURIWA recalled that in Kano the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Kano has reserved judgement just as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Abba Kabir Yusuf, had filed a petition challenging the victory of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. The three-man tribunal, led by Justice Halima S. Muhammad, said it would communicate the date to the parties affected once it is fixed.
HURIWA recalled that in Sokoto, the opposition APC and its candidate, Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu, filed a petition against Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of the PDP. In Plateau state, the Rights group recalled that the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Jos, on August 22, said it reserved judgement in the petition filed by Jeremiah Useni of the PDP against Governor Simon Lalong of the APC, after all the parties involved adopted their final written addresses. In Bauchi state HURIWA recalled that the immediate past Governor Muhammed Abdullahi Abukakar of the APC petitioned the victory of Governor Mohammed Bala Abdulkadir of the PDP.
The Rights group said petition has also generated bad blood amongst the people of Bauchi state just as the state has become polarised alongside political camps due to the protracted post election case created by the poor conduct of 2019 polls by INEC.
HURIWA stated that in Imo, Abia, Oyo; Ekiti: as well as in and Rivers State and all the States of the federation whereby election took place in 2019, politicians are at each other's throats even as their states are witnessing unprecedented tensions.
HURIWA said there is the need for elections to be well conducted so the judiciary is not seen to be the ultimate arbiters that awards victories to politicians who constitutionally ought to obtain legitimate mandates from the people through electoral process of one person one vote.