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Coalition to Politicians: Stop the Blackmail, Intimidation of Electoral Officers

By Ayo Balogun, Abuja

BALTIMORE, MD (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – A Coalition of Civil Society Groups known as Election Reform Expert Group (EREG) has frowned at the activities of some Nigerian Politicians aiming at derailing the nation’s democratic process, particularly in the area of gains made over the years in the nation’s quest for a credible electoral system.

The group in a statement signed by all members of the coalition kicked against a situation where politicians launched attacks to discredit the electoral body to gain public sympathy in order to perpetuate their electoral violence and malpractices.

The statement reads in full:

“The Election Reform Expert Group notes with dismay and alarm the emerging audacious, brazen and contemptuous activities of political actors to derail the gains made in Nigeria’s quest for a free, fair and credible electoral system that guarantees that the rights of the people to freely choose their leaders without intimidation is un-impinged. We further note how these actors have turned an ordinary action of political recruitment into a dance of the absurd; unleashing terror, mayhem and inflicting pains, sorrow and death on the electorates and electoral umpires whose only sins where that they lawfully abided with the constitutionally guaranteed right of participating in the electoral process.

“The free flow of blood in the Rivers re-run elections; the brigandage and celebration of maniacal brutality in the creeks of Bayelsa before that; the rape of decency in the Imo re-run elections; the continued torching of INEC facilities/property and physical harassment of her staff are just a few of the machinations of political actors across the spectrum.

“The theatre of war which elections have become due to the activities of these political gladiators have been expressed in the spate of hanging elections declared by an EMB that is intent on not allowing these purveyors of death to reap from their illegality and determined to protect the sanctity of lives and properties of ordinary Nigerians and the sacredness of their votes. For this counter-push, the EMB has become the target of these merchants of death through ridicule, blackmail, wicked campaigns of calumny and outright threat.

“Just recently, a salacious tale of INEC officials in Imo tampering with election materials meant as evidence to prove massive rigging in the re-run elections was passed off through the labyrinths of the ubiquitous social media but was promptly shut down by a very vigilant and proactive REC who quickly issued a denial and assured all of the safety of evidentiary materials. Not satisfied with this, another old wife tale of suggesting the existence of a direct, clandestine and unwholesome relationship between the hierarchy of the EMB and certain politicians is being cooked up. In the fabled imaginations of these conspiracy practitioners, the insistence of the EMB , especially its relatively new Chairman that politicians should play by the rules (which they themselves set out in the Electoral Act), failure of which breeds consequences, is indicative of someone who has a hidden, predetermined agenda.

“Nigerians should therefore take note of the dangerous dimensions and boundless limits that these detractors are prepared to cross in their attempt to discredit the EMB and its officers and should disregard all manners of fables that will be “revealed” as evidence of a complicit EMB. The current plot to create a nexus between the INEC Chairman and a serving governor who the former worked with in different capacities at an earlier national service, as evidence of the EMB “taking instructions” from the governor is vexatiously laughable. Many of such tales will continue to unfold and should be seen for what they are: the last throes of a dying breed of contemptuous ravines whose stock in trade (violent manipulations of elections) is suddenly under threat by a renewed, motivated, and determined EMB. The EREG will continue to engage INEC on the best approaches to improve our electoral processes and enjoins all Nigerians to take note of those who through their actions are robbing us of the rights to freely determine those who lead us.”

The statement is signed by Dr. Chima Amadi, Centre for Transparency Advocacy; Eze Nwagwu

Partners for Electoral Reforms: Abdul Mahmud, President, Public Interest Lawyers League: Jaye Gakia, Coordinator, Protest to Power; Okechukwu Nwanguma, Network of Police Reforms in Nigeria; Faith Nwadishi, Executive Director, Centre for Gender and Development Initiative Member, EITI Board; Emeka J. Ononamadu; Executive Director, Citizens Centre for Integrated Development and Social Rights.



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