Chris Steven, Abuja
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was yesterday warned that manipulation of the electoral process in the country is capable of derailing the fourth republic.
A pro-democracy coalition raised this alarm , accusing INEC of engaging in ‘electoral travesty,’ and setting some dangerous precedents, which may perhaps make the conduct of the next general election almost an impossible task.
Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution (CDNDC) in a statement by its co-convener, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, catalogued some worrisome trends, which it accused the commission of deliberately contriving.
The group said: “We wish to alert the country that the culmination of some unsavoury things that INEC is doing or failing to do as an umpire that ordinarily should be seen as thorough and unbiased, from Abia to Ondo and Rivers states, is fast creating some bottled-up political tension in the land and gradually spreading.
“We are deeply worried that the President did not grapple with the enormity of the challenges ahead in his recent comment, asking the commission to shape up. Only an independent, truthful and unbiased review of the commission’s activities can reveal the danger ahead.
“We recall vividly that before the latest electoral aberration leading to the temporary substitution of a duly nominated and INEC-supervised candidate of the PDP in Ondo state, the Court of Appeal had in the case of Ikpeazu vs Ogah, given the commission, the necessary direction in acting on a judgment or order from a court of first instance that has been appealed.
“Save for the resoluteness of Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu and the grace of God that prevailed on the people of the state to exercise great restraint, INEC could have thrown that state into chaos of an unimaginable proportion, before the Appeal Court came to the rescue.
“As if acting out a script, the electoral body proceeded to repeat a similar unpalatable scenario in the forthcoming Ondo state governorship poll by substituting the name of a duly nominated and INEC-supervised candidate of the PDP with an impostor whose primary it did not monitor.
“INEC refused to obey the notice of appeal it received from Eyitayo Jegede, whose name it listed as the authentic candidate before the Justice Abang’s controversial judgement came. But because Jegede’s matter is in it court, the commission failed to stay necessary action unlike Gov. Ikpeazu that took his destiny in his own hand and succeeded.
“While the Ondo state matter has become a subject of appeal which we are optimistic would be reversed based on well settled cases at the appellate courts, we consider the unstable action of INEC as perilous to Nigeria’s political stability.”
The group, however, urged President Muhammadu Buhari and National Assembly to pay serious attention to these sad developments caused by INEC and the likely threatening implications on the 2019 general elections.
It also asked INEC to come clean over the latest discovery of printing of fake ballot papers in Port-Harcourt for next month’s rerun legislative rerun in Rivers State.