The attention of the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law has again been drawn to the latest public statement made by the Chairman of INEC, Prof Attahiru Jega, blaming Nigerian registered voters for not coming out en masse to collect their PVCs and absolving his Commission of any blame associated with their poor distribution and collection. The INEC Chairman was responding to our recent letter to the Federal Executive Council of Nigeria, dated January 21, 2015 over the issue as well as a comment on the issue made by the National Security Adviser, Mr. Sambo Dasuki in UK, while responding to a question put across to him by a journalist, Mr. Theodore Damian over the issue of disenfranchisement of over 30 million registered voters based on non distribution of PVCs.
Mr. Sambo Dasuki had expressed same concerns and disappointment expressed by millions of other Nigerians particularly the registered voters numbering 30, 059, 085 including the Sultan of Sokoko, who, till date, have not received or been issued with their legitimate PVCs. He concluded that if it could take INEC one whole year to distribute only 38, 774, 391 PVCs, what is the possibility of the Commission receiving and distributing the remaining 30, 059, 085 PVCs less than three weeks to the all important February 2015 polls including 14, 491, 866 not yet produced and delivered to the Commission by its contractors/suppliers. On our part, while we did not call for the shifting of the dates of the polls, we insisted that all the registered voters must receive their PVCs. We proffered solutions as in how the problem of the massive disenfranchisement could be remedied including taking the PVCs to the homes of the registered voters or allowing the registered voters to vote with either their PVCs or TVCs (temporary voters’ cards).
However, despite these genuine, legitimate and justiciable national outcries, the Chairman of INEC is unperturbed and determined to disenfranchise millions of Nigerian voters particularly registered voters numbering 30, 059, 085. Reasons for his insistence are not farfetched. Our forensic evaluation of the Commission’s distribution of PVCs across the country clearly shows that the Commission, headed by Prof Attahiru Jega seems to have successfully put electoral demographic statistics hugely in favour of the North, which will allow it clinch the presidency of the country come February 14, 2015. This blatant electoral demographic scheming is the third out of three-stage designed strategy for the North to emerge in the country’s presidency. The first was botched creation of 30, 000 polling units with grossly lopsided geopolitical distribution and the second was the issue of strange preferential voting treatment for the Northeast IDPs said to be 918, 416, who are mostly of Muslim population. The mother of all these was systematic and careful extermination of Christian populations and settlements in the North by Boko Haram oiled insurgency to make the voting an all Muslim affair in the core North.
In the entire North, 24, 481, 487 citizens have received their PVCs and empowered to vote, whereas in the entire South, only 16, 151, 298 are empowered to vote having been issued with their PVCs. Owing to insecurity and other unsafe conditions created in the North, over four million Southerners mostly of Igbo tribe have fled the North and more three million will flee or leave the area between now and first week of February.
Out of these numbers, up to five million of them will not vote in the said crucial polls owing to absence of their PVCs. There are also those that were recently captured in various continuous voters’ registration exercises across the country particularly in the South, who have received only Temporary Voters’ Cards. Many others have not even received PVCs or TVCs till date. These, INEC said will not vote because they do not possess PVCs.
Our questions to Prof Attahiru Jega and his INEC are: If Nigerian registered voters are to be blamed for not coming out to collect their PVCs, numbering 15, 567, 219, which forms the number of undistributed PVCs; are they also to be blamed for 14, 491, 866 that are yet to be produced and delivered to the Commission till date? Are Nigerian registered voters responsible for 14, 491, 866 PVCs names that have not been captured till date only twenty days to the presidential poll? Is it also the Nigerian registered voters that should be blamed for those voters registered recently who have not been captured either in PVCs or TVCs? Are Nigerian registered voters also responsible for hundreds of thousands of missing registered voters from the INEC’s National Register of Voters such as in Ogbaru LGA of Anambra State where 9, 000 registered names are missing from the INEC’s manual and digital data?
It is our firm conclusion that the Jega’s INEC has already rigged the presidential poll demographically speaking in favour of the North. It is still shocking and magical as how the Commission effected high percentage distribution of PVCs in the troubled geopolitical zone of the Northeast to the extent that the State of Bauchi has so far received 1, 509, 255, out of the so called registered voters of 2, 502, 609. The statistical implication of this is that the PVCs recipients in Bauchi State alone equal the total PVCs recipients in Anambra and Imo States put together. While a total of 1, 544, 793 PVCs have so far been distributed in the two States (Anambra 862, 747, Imo 682, 046), total of 1, 509, 255 PVCs have so far been distributed in Bauchi State alone. While five States in the troubled region of Northeast have received 4, 886, 499 PVCs as of date, only 3, 944, 242 have received theirs in the entire five States of the Southeast.
Our further and final questions to Jega’s INEC are: what magic is behind such high percentage PVCs distribution in the troubled Northeast? Are they hoarded in the warehouses of some, if not many district heads/Emirs for onward transfer to Almajiris, infants and livestock on poll day? Were their owners located in the Cameroonian mountains, Adamawa hills, Sambisa forests, bushes and purdahs and issued or were they ferried from these hideouts to the collection centers via helicopters, horses and camels? In view of the magical distribution of PVCs in the troubled Northeast with high percentage, why thickened desperation to get the Northeast IDPs to vote at all costs, while disenfranchising millions of other registered voters in the South?
Emeka Umeagbalasi, B.Sc. (Hons.), Criminology & Security Studies
Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law+2348174090052 (office)