TMG Calls For Violence-free Elections In Imo, Bayelsa, Kogi States

... Questions ₦18bn Allocation To INEC

Following the pockets of violence reported in some parts of the States where the off-circle elections would be held, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has called on political actors to eschew violence and allow the electorates to choose who to govern them.

TMG Chairman, Auwal Ibrahim (Rafsanjani) made the call while addressing the Press on Thursday in Abuja.

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He said, with the widespread anomalies witnessed in the 2023 election regarding the conduct of political parties and politicians, security agencies, the electoral umpire, and political actors that marred the credibility of that election, Nigerians remain concerned about the direction of the off-cycle election.

He averred that violent conducts are undemocratic and pose serious threats to the development of democracy in Nigeria, therefore, urged the security agencies to ensure that citizens vote in a peaceful electoral atmosphere across the three states.

While condemning the allegation of deprivation of election observers in Imo State, the TMG Chairman called on the federal government to investigate the weighty allegation and prevail on the state government to revert to democratic tenets.

“It is very disheartening to see in circulation a purported memo from an agency of the Imo state government procuring every room in every single hotel in Owerri covering the period of the election.

“What this simply implies is that the state government has effectively barred domestic and foreign observers from visiting Imo ahead of the election.

“For the sake of democracy in Nigeria, TMG hopes these allegations are not true, and that the purported memo is also not true, as this would present a blow to the democratisation process in Nigeria and give others in power the boldness to thwart democratic processes through barbaric acts and practices.

“TMG urges the state government to immediately debunk this allegation and assure observers of their safety in Owerri and other parts of the state. Also, the federal government must investigate this weighty allegation and prevail on the state government to revert to democratic tenets”, he said.

On ambiguity relating to the Candidacy of the APC in Bayelsa, he said, fillers from Bayelsa state pointed out that the disqualification of the candidate of the APC by the Federal High Court had set the ground for violence ahead of the election in the state.

“While it is also public knowledge that the Court of Appeal had reinstated his candidacy in the election. Has this been communicated effectively to the people of Bayelsa to avoid associated rancour that was already building up?”, he asked

The Monitoring Group expresses concern that the allocation of a whooping ₦18 billion supplementary budget by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to facilitate the conduct of Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi elections was completely shocking as INEC had assured that the funds for the off-cycle elections were parts of funds received ahead of the general election.

To this end, he said, the Commission had since gone ahead to perfect preparations towards the election without any complaints about funding.

“What part of the election is this supplementary budget of N18 billion looking to cover? Nigerians perceive this allocation as very suspicious and fear that it could be allocation to perpetrate malpractices. Hence, the federal government must explain this huge sum to Nigerians and why it is budgeting again for what has already been budgeted”, he questioned.

He also expresses worry over “the judicial robbery and INEC connivance in Kano State”, adding that the inconsistencies associated with the election tribunal rulings have created injustice in the electoral process and the Kano state case is a good example.

“After INEC had tabulated votes cast during the election and declared a winner as witnessed by the voting public, political party agents, and security agencies, how then did the election tribunal suddenly find unsigned ballot papers totaling 165,663 votes to sack the declared winner?

“Nigerians do not want to see the Kogi, Imo, and Bayelsa elections going this direction, creating doubts about the country’s ability to operate a democracy”, he said.

On the Supreme Court ruling, the Chairman said, “Supreme Court ruling on the presidential election has become another judicial blow on the use of technology to reform the electoral process in Nigeria.

“The ruling on the use of IReV has empowered manual collation of results which creates room for falsification of results and other forms of malpractices. Even as INEC has given reassurances on the deployment of IReV for the off-cycle elections, the Supreme Court judgement does not give confidence in technology as the court should have looked at protecting the greater election credibility in Nigeria.

“Nevertheless, TMG implores INEC to look back at the credibility of the off-cycle elections in Ekiti and Osun states as a basis for improvement ahead of the November 11 election. The Commission should effectively deploy technology to enhance credibility”, he said.

He disclosed that the TMG has concluded plans to deploy observers across all the local government areas of the three states, adding that the observers are currently undergoing training and would be deployed to observe and report through a digital on-the-spot reporting tool that has been developed.

“At the same time, a Central Data Centre will also be situated in Abuja with trained Data Clerks to collate and analyze reports from the field”, Rafsanjani added.

He, however, called on the voting populace of Imo, Kogi, and Bayelsa to troop out in their numbers to cast their votes for their preferred candidates.

“Citizens must understand that democracy is about citizens’ participation and elections present the best opportunity for citizens to express their will and power.

“Citizen’s participation especially in large numbers also reduces manipulation opportunities for the political actors. Hence Citizens should desist from aiding and abetting malpractices, shun vote trading, and keep an eagle eye on their votes”, he said.

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