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Rights Group InterSociety Calls For Nullification Of Imo 2023 Guber Poll

*Advocates Electoral Court, Voting Process Reforms.

*Predicts Violence In Anambra 2025 Guber

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – A human rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), has strongly called for judicial nullification of the Nov 11, 2023 ‘off-Cycle’ Imo Governorship Election, describing it as a shambolic exercise, just as it advocates the establishment of electoral court and voting reforms in  Nigeria.

The Nigeria’s leading research and investigative Human Rights, Rule of Law, Democracy, Citizens’ Security and Safety Advocacy Organization made the call on Sunday in Enugu during a media briefing.

“It is not only that the shambolic poll should judicially be nullified, but also an all-inclusive fresh Poll must be conducted under an atmosphere of popular participation including access to PVCs and secured voting environment and voting materials.

“The above is urgently and popularly needed to be done in Imo State to restore the voting and the general citizens’ confidence in the Judiciary and the country’s Electoral Process and have them back on track.

It noted that “the Arm of the Nigerian Government being called upon to rise to the occasion and do the needful in the instant case is the Nigerian Judiciary per the 2023 Imo Governorship Election Petitions’ Tribunal (electoral court of first instance), the 2023 Imo State Governorship Appellate Tribunal (electoral court of second instance) and the 2023 Imo State Governorship Apex Tribunal (electoral court of last instance).

Addressing newsmen, board Chairman of the organization, Chief Emeka Umeagbalasi, Criminologist-Researcher, alongside other officials of the group, alledged that the said Imo Off- cycle governorship election was characteristized by irregularities.

He said “the three Electoral Courts being called upon are created and recognized by the 1999 Constitution and the 2022 Electoral Act as amended.

“While the Electoral Court of First Instance is set to deliver its judgment having adjourned for judgment since April 30, 2024 in line with constitutionally stipulated 180 days; the Electoral Courts of Second and Third (Last) instance are expected to review and deliver theirs in coming 120 days or four months (two months respectively) as lawfully required.

The group posited that the development has provided the retiring Chief Justice of Nigeria CJN, Olukayode Ariwoola, opportunity to rewrite the judicial  wrongs in the state.

“Rare opportunity beckons on Retiring CJN Olukayode Ariwoola. The above is a test case for the Nigerian Judiciary under the leadership of Retiring Chief Justice of Nigeria, JSC Olukayode Ariwoola and a rare opportunity to courageously return the Judiciary to the ‘saintly status quo’ of the yesterday years and save it from further bleeding.

“A rare opportunity has, therefore, beckoned on Retiring CJN Ariwoola to retire on August 22, 2024 at the mandatory retirement age of 70 years with honor by “politically” reversing the Jan 14, 2020 Imo State Governorship Supreme Court Hara-kiri.

“This clarion call on the country’s Judiciary, if popularly heeded, can upturn the comatose state of affair which the State has been plunged into since Jan 2021 including rescuing the State from uncontrollably continuing as a Safe Haven for state actor and non-state actor generated violent crimes and allied atrocities and their unchecked and uncaught perpetrators including ‘repeat-offenders’ or ‘repeat-perpetrators’.

“Imo State has since Jan 2021 become a Safe Haven for state actor and non-state actor unlawful killings, ritualism, maiming, abductions-for-religious radicalism and abductions-for-ransom; enforced disappearances, custodial and captivity torture and exterminations; gender violence including rape and forceful conversions on the ground of radical religion.

Others includes “house burnings, political thievery and violence; election rigging, abuse of power and political corruption; depopulation of male citizens in marital age brackets, displacements, forced migration, political falsehood and propaganda; class criminalization and false labeling; victimless criminalities including drug abuses and addictions; and general under-development, joblessness and mass poverty, etc.

“The State as a result has become a gateway of criminalities into Anambra, Abia, Enugu, and Rivers States. It must also not be forgotten that the January 14, 2020 Nigeria’s Supreme Court verdict that installed Hope Uzodinma as ‘Imo Governor’ remotely originated from ‘harvested results’ from 311 polling units in the State where voting either did not take place or was canceled as a result of widespread violence and gross malpractices in the State’s April 2019 Governorship Election.

The group insisted that the time has come  for Electoral Court And Voting Process Reforms In Nigeria.

“We at the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law are calling for comprehensive reformation of the Nigeria’s electoral court and voting process including: (a) provision for independent candidacy from presidency and governorship to State and Federal legislative seats, (b)side-by-side codified use of Electronic and Manual Voting, (c) detachment of Electoral Courts, their processes and procedures including Rules as well as their handlers (. i.e.

“The ‘Electoral Court processes and procedures and their handlers under demand should be modeled after the “Constitutional Court System” obtained in several developed and developing democratic countries; and (d) total elimination of “judicial technicalities”

” From post-election dispensation of ‘justice’ in Nigeria or any part thereof. “Judicial Technicalities” have been found to be responsible for over 80% of brutal judicial subversion of the sacred electoral wishes of the conscientious Nigerian voting population.

“The standard practices in developed and developing Democratic Countries’ electoral courts are to fundamentally determine the field winners of the valid majority votes cast from among the total lawful cast votes emanating from polling centers or units through their manual or electronic voting systems.

“Time has also come for general and codified use of electronic and manual voting to be used side-by-side. Voting citizens must be allowed their sacred choice of using electronic voting or manual voting in Nigeria or any part thereof.

On the adjournment Sine Die (For Judgment) By 2023 Imo Governorship Tribunal “We have reliably gathered, having been following the proceedings of the 2023 Imo State Governorship Election Petitions’ Tribunal sitting in Abuja since Jan 2024 that the Electoral Court of First Instance had on April 30, 2024 ‘adjourned for judgment.

“Adjournment sine die) to rule on about Seven Applications (cases) before it relating to the controversially conducted Nov 11, 2023 Imo Governorship Election. Sitting in Abuja (FCT), the Three-Member Panel is led by Justice O. Akintan Osadebay.

“The Tribunal’s ‘adjournment sine die’ followed the adoption of briefs by Lead-Counsels to the Petitioners (PDP, LP, etc.) and Respondents (INEC, APC, etc.), during which the Petitioners through their Lead-Counsels including Johnson Usman, SAN, cried out over “refusal of INEC to comply with the Order of the Court (Tribunal) issued since Jan 26, 2024 to make available to the Petitioners relevant materials used by INEC in the said poll.

“The materials sought had included the CTCs of the Voters’ Register from the State’s 27 Local Government Areas; out of which INEC provided those of only seven Local Government Areas.

“The Lead-Counsel to the Lead-Petitioners (PDP) also cried out that their client was forced by INEC into spending N5m as “processing fees” and another N4m for “business center photocopying”; and extra N50,000 for “CTCs”; yet in the end, the Commission had nothing to show for it.

According to InterSociety added that ” the two major petitioners in the matter: PDP and LP and their 2023 Imo State Governorship Candidates had asked the Tribunal to disqualify the APC Governorship Candidate (Hope Uzodinma) as having not qualified ab initio to contest in the Election by having allegedly failed in law to authenticate his WAEC Certificate said to have been obtained about 42 years ago.

“The two major petitioners therefore prayed the Electoral Tribunal to declare the next Candidate who scored the second largest lawful votes cast as the winner; or in the alternative, nullify the entire election for non-substantial compliance with the provisions of the 2022 Electoral Act as amended and order for fresh one.

“The facts and findings arising from our several investigations obtained before, during and after the widely condemned and rejected 2023 Imo Governorship Poll have shown how supposedly state actor or Government democratic institutions turned themselves into rigging tools in the election: thereby making the Poll “worse of the worst”

Commenting on the forthcoming Anambra 2025 off cycle governorship election, it predicted “Political violence to be generated from Imo Violent  Forces

“Our recent investigative findings have revealed that “Anambra 2025” or Anambra’s off-circle Governorship Election of Nov 2025 is most likely to witness unprecedented political violence including aimless and targeted shootings and killings; and property destruction and other forms of violence against persons and properties-for purposes of creating a general atmosphere of insecurity and other unsafe conditions-aimed at scaring away many of the conscientious voting population to give room for “guided voting” or massive result fixing and harvesting arising from “dead votes”.

“Further findings showed that poll rigging enablers and their allied violent forces seeking to unseat the incumbent Governor Charles Soludo will launch their ferocious attacks into Anambra State from their Safe Haven in Imo State where they currently operate and terrorize unchecked, untracked, and uncaught.

“The enablers of the poll rigging and their allied violent forces operating from their Imo Safe Haven are remotely linked to state actor and non-state actor camps in the State-with those in the hands of the state actors being in majority.

“Some, if not many, are remotely or openly linked to the Imo State Ministry of Homeland Security and Vigilante Matters headed by “Commissioner Ugorji” under the operational code of “Ebubeagu Security Outfit”.

“It is our investigative projection that unless extremely urgent steps are taken, if not, Anambra will be enveloped by an unprecedented sponsored and counter-sponsored political violence including political assassinations and attempted assassinations, disappearances and abductions including abduction-for-ransom; as well as property burnings.

It equally pointed out that other violence such as targeted and general burning of automobiles and houses belonging to political parties and political actors may be experienced

“Open killing and shooting of defenseless citizens is also likely; to create general atmosphere of panics and fears.

Short URL: https://www.africanexaminer.com/?p=95863

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