Thursday, 26 March 2015

Open Letter: Beyond INEC’s Corruption & Bastardization Of PVCs Distribution: Conditions For Secured & Rogue Free Polls In Nigeria



Ref: INTERSOC/SE/03/04/015/FGN/ABJ/FRN

1. Air Chief Marshal AS Badeh
Chief of Defense Staff, the Armed Forces of Nigeria
The Defense Headquarters, FCT, Abuja, Nigeria

2.  Lt. Gen Kenneth Minimah, Chief of Army Staff of Nigeria
The Nigerian Army Headquarters
Plot 1092, Mohammadu Buhari Way
Area 7, Garki, Abuja, Nigeria

3. IGP Suleiman A. Abba, Inspector General of Police
The Nigeria Police Force Headquarters
Louis Edet House, Shehu Shagari Way
Garki, Abuja, Nigeria

4. Mr. Ita Ekpeyong
Director General, State (Department of) Security Services
The SSS (DSS) Headquarters, Three Arms Zone
FCT, Abuja, Nigeria

5. Senator Anyim Pius Anyim
Secretary to the Government of the Federation
Shehu Shagari Secretariat Complex
Three Arms Zones, FCT, Abuja, Nigeria

Sirs,
Beyond INEC’s Corruption & Bastardization Of PVCs Distribution: Conditions For Secured & Rogue Free Polls In Nigeria
On 10th February 2015, the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) wrote your respected public offices including the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and excluding the Chief of Army Staff and the Inspector General of Police. The referenced letter was titled: Healing The Wounds Of Aborted Scientific Rigging Of 2015 General Polls In Nigeria: What Your Respected Authorities Must Do.  The letter follows shift in the dates of the 2015 general polls from 14th and 28th February to 28th March and 11th April 2015 owing to security concerns in the Northeast and INEC’s unpreparedness, particularly as it concerns gross lopsided distribution of PVCs to registered voters in Nigeria.

On 15th March 2015 (updated), we wrote the Chairman of INEC and the letter was titled: Consequences Of Importing Ethnic Cleansing Into The Distribution Of Permanent Voters’ Cards In Nigeria. Copies of the latter were sent to the trio of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Chief of Defense Staff and the Director General of SSS (DSS). Copies of the said letter are hereby attached for the Chief of Army Staff and the Inspector General of Police. All the referenced letters have been successfully delivered to their recipients. The overall aim of the letters under reference is to expose INEC’s incompetence, ethno-religious bias and other anomalies as well as pinpointing election security loopholes with a view at ensuring that they are remedied and nipped in the bud; leading to violence and rogue free polls in the country’s 2015 general elections particularly the presidential segment.

Understanding Demographic/Electoral Contract Between INEC & Nigerians:
In accordance with relevant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 with its last amendment in 2011 as well as the provisions of the INEC Establishment Act of 2004 and the Electoral Act of 2010; the civic and electoral duties and obligations of Nigerians of voting age start and end with the carriage of their human persons to centers designated by INEC for registration of voters and revalidation of voters’ cards; for the purpose of volunteering demographic information about themselves so as to be captured as registered voters as well as to periodically re-validate their voters’ cards. Once this process is completed, the citizens have fulfilled their demographic and electoral contract with INEC.

Issues of articulation and incorporation of the citizens’ information, biometric processes including capturing of required fingerprints and photographs, verification of information supplied by the citizens, printing and issuance of temporary or permanent voters’ cards, voters’ cards transfer, theft or cloning of permanent voters’ cards, etc are solely the responsibility of INEC. The Commission takes full responsibility of their failure or the otherwise. For instance, it is not the responsibility of a voting registrant to ensure that he or she has his or her fingerprints fully captured; it is solely that of INEC.  

Same thing applies to registration of under-age voters and double or multiple voters’ registration. INEC takes full legal and moral responsibilities of such exercises. If INEC is truly ICT compliant, its system should have been designed to instantly spot and reject double or multiple registrants and to an extent under-age registrants. In crime, for instance, ICT makes it possible and easier to detect repeat offenders including repeat traffic offenders.  Also the policies, procedures and actions of INEC determine the level of response of the registered voters in the collection of PVCs or TVCs. Same thing applies to registration of voters proper as well as voter’s card transfer and general management of the National Register of Voters by the Commission.

Therefore, it saddens and sickens our heart to observe the INEC’s consistent attempts to shift  blames  to Nigerian registered voters and those of voting age over its huge failure in competently managing the country’s National Register of Voters including voters’ registration and revalidation as well as custody and safety of the permanent voters cards. INEC under Prof Attahiru Jega is a monumental failure in these regards.

 The stark truth is that the Commission has woefully failed Nigerians in its 2015 electoral midwifery; yet the Commission led by a number of BBC academicians including its headship finds it very difficult to admit its failure, which stems from the fact that they embraced ICT without caution and expertise having been born before e-computer (BBC). For instance, Prof Attahiru Jega was born in 1957; long before the advent of the Information Computer Technology and after the advent of computer typewriter technology. In other words, it is correct to say that they are typewriter computer generation who still see and treat ICT in typewriter computer perspective.

In advanced ICT compliant countries including Greece, ICT is superbly managed in addition to its side by side use with manual technology. Instead of INEC looking inwards so as to remedy the flaws under reference, including disenfranchisement of whopping 12.4 million registered voters of pastoralist and minority ethnic backgrounds,  by way of non issuance of PVCs to them, which ought to be remedied by the use of TVCs (temporary voters’ cards); the Commission and its cronies in the CSOs (CSOs Poll Situation Room) and opposition parties has gone out uncontrollably in image laundering including getting influenced and supportive comments from a number of foreign missions favoring the so called “Card Reader Technology”; while ignoring or trivializing the fundamental issue of distribution and issuance of permanent voters cards to all Nigerian registered voters irrespective of their tribe, sex and religion.

Till date, over one million PVCs including 500,000 awarded to a local firm in Abuja have not been produced by INEC. Also, 12.4 million registered voters have been disenfranchised and denied their rights to vote in the referenced crucial national polls by the Commission. There are also widespread complaints by pastoralist ethnic nationalities and other minority populations in the country of deliberate denial of their PVCs by INEC, which the Commission blatantly refused to address because of its capability of upturning the Commission’s perceived ethno-religious desire to appropriate presidency to its headship’s ethno-religious origin. The Commission and its cronies in the CSOs and opposition parties has spent more time and resources diverting public and international attentions from its in-house rigging through fundamental and systematic disenfranchisement of registered Nigerian voters of over 12 million; to the Card Reader campaign. The Commission has moved from strong accusation of its hitherto parasitic linkage with the ruling parties to parasitic linkage with the opposition parties and conformist CSOs.

Further, over one million PVCs have been stolen in the country under INEC watch since August 2014. While there are widespread denial of PVCs to over 12.4 Million registered voters of legal and qualified citizenship; there are millions of under-age voters issued with PVCs by INEC particularly in the Northwest and the Northeast zones especially among Muslim population.

While INEC says it has resources and provisions for IDPs of Northeast States of Yobe and Borno with dominant Muslim population to vote; the Commission claims it has no resources and provisions for other IDPs (dominated by Igbos and other Christian minorities) to vote. The number of Nigerian citizens of voting age denied voting registration by INEC owing to its stringent and discriminatory policies and actions; particularly in the South are in millions. Instances of flaws or anomalies inherent in the INEC’s 2015 electoral midwifery are too many to be exhausted in this letter.

Conditions That INEC Must Fulfill To Ensure Secured & Rogue Free Polls:
To ensure secured and rogue free polls on 28th March and 11th April 2015 particularly the presidential poll, your respected offices particularly the offices of the Chief of Defense Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, the Director General of DSS and the Inspector General of Police, as a mandatory condition to INEC, should ensure that the Commission does as follows:

1.That INEC must compile and send to your respected offices the names, locations and number of all the popularly recognized polling units in Nigeria (119, 973) for terrain, terrestrial, aquatic, data, securitization and surveillance studies; for the grand purpose of ensuring maximum poll security and counter poll rigging operations.
2. Your respected offices must demand from INEC to clear air with statistical breakdown, on the possible existence of two sets of National Polling Units (119, 973 (120,000) and 150,000) in Nigeria. This is to block the possibility of second official rigging using officially created criminal polling units.
3. INEC must pledge to your respected offices of its readiness, willingness and ability to apply and enforce to the letter and evenly all voting accreditation procedures throughout the country’s popularly recognized polling units. In other words, INEC’s reported age long method of lowering some voting procedures in the North particularly in the Northwest and the Northeast owing to instigated mob action or group violence; and tightening of same in the South must be eliminated. That is to say that the use of Card Readers and PVCs in the referenced polls must be uniformly applied and enforced to the letter throughout the country irrespective of landscape or ethnic grouping.
4. INEC must pledge to your respected offices to turn back from the voting centers and areas all facially and commonsensically identified under-age voters particularly in the Northwest and the Northeast zone. Your respected offices also have a constitutional duty to disallow any under-age voter to queue for accreditation or voting not minding the validity of his or her voter’s card.

What Your Respected Offices Should Do:
5. The Northwest and the Northeast zones as well as Plateau and Niger States in the North-central zone should be designated by your respected offices as the poll security hotbed and poll rigging nipping points.
6. All youths and street urchins particularly in the Northeast and the Northwest as well as in Niger and Plateau States in the North-central; other than those with valid voters’ cards, must be kept off the streets and voting areas on the voting dates.
Those with valid voters’ cards must be searched and all daggers, pencil machetes and violent sticks in their possession must be recovered and impounded.
7. Politicians and religious leaders in the Northwest, the Northeast as well as Niger and Plateau States in the North-Central and Rivers State in the South-south; other than those with valid voters’ cards heading to voting centers nearby; should be barricaded and bottled till the end of polls.
8. Mosques, churches and houses of leading politicians in the Northwest and the Northeast zones as well as Plateau and Niger States in the North-central should be roundly monitored.
9. It is also the constitutional duty of your respected offices, in collaboration with INEC to ensure that any citizen with fake or proxy voter’s card in and around any polling unit particularly in the Northwest and the Northeast zones is arrested and detained. In the plain language of the Constitution and the Electoral Act, it is unlawful to allow any citizen below the age of 18 to vote.
10. While field personnel and commanders of your respected offices are not expected to be found in the polling units especially with arms; the Constitution and duty guidelines still empower your respected offices to be proactive and extremely mindful of any early warning signals. In other words, your respected offices are empowered constitutionally in the context of protective and preventive policing. This constitutional empowerment is beyond any judicial distraction or interpretation.
11. All the entries and exits in the country’s borders particularly in the Northwest and the Northeast zones must be tightly monitored on polls’ dates.
12. Your respected offices must beware of false alarmists particularly in the TV and online media, CSOs and politicians/parties capable of creating confusions and breaching public security and safety.
13. The insurgency areas of the Northeast zone require thorough monitoring and securitization by your respected offices. Going by INEC’s recent magical PVCs distribution in the area, there is no doubt that they are potential rigging warehouses of compromised INEC staff and their desperate accomplices in some political parties. Extra efforts must be made to thwart such immoral and unlawful plots as well as ensuring maximum protection of lives and properties from insurgents and other killer citizens and groups. If it becomes evident that holding polls in the areas or any part thereof, will endanger lives and properties and compromise national interests including public security and safety; then such polls should be put off.
14. In carrying out your constitutional duties, national interests and public security and safety of Nigeria and Nigerians must remain your pivotal goals during and after the polls, not minding their religious and ethnic divides or groupings.
15.To actualize the foregoing 14-point recommendations, there shall be robust and cohesive inter-agency arrangements put in place by your respected offices in association with the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Yours Faithfully,

For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
41, Miss Elems Street, Fegge, Onitsha, Southeast Nigeria

Emeka Umeagbalasi, B.Sc. (Hons.) Criminology & Security Studies
 Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
+2348174090052(office)
 emekaumeagbalasi@yahoo.co.uk, info@intersociety-ng.org
             
 Uzochukwu Oguejiofor, Esq., (LLB, BL), Head, Campaign & Publicity Department

 CC:
The Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, Abuja, Nigeria

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