Kick against disenfranchisement of voters
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said more facts have emerged on the connivance of some officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to deny non-indigenes in APC-controlled states of their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) ahead of the polls this month.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, in a statement on Thursday, described the development as a crime against the electoral process, adding that the party has received overwhelming evidence from residents in APC states following its alarm on Wednesday that non-indigenes who form the bulk of PDP supporters in Lagos were being denied their PVCs.
The PDP said apart from Lagos, the same scandalous practice is also being perpetrated in other APC-controlled states including Kano.“Since our alert on Lagos State, we have continued to receive calls and comments from residents in local governments and wards in APC states confirming the collaboration between some INEC officials and the APC to shut out non-indigenes in the affected states, made up mainly of our supporters, is deeper than earlier thought.
“Indeed, this inexcusable misconduct is also being perpetrated in Kano, Edo, Sokoto, Kebbi, Nasarawa and Kwara, among other APC-controlled states where fraudulent INEC officials and the APC are orchestrating hitches to disenfranchise non-indigenes.
“Evidence of this crime abounds in Alimosho and Amuwo-Odofin local governments of Lagos State, Nasarawa Local Government and Sabon Gari area of Kano State, as well as other strategic places where PVCs belonging to non-indigenes are even burnt to ensure that they do not get to their rightful owners.
“We know that the aim is to deny the PDP of its well-deserved victory in APC states since over 90 per cent of these non-indigenes are supporters of the PDP and will vote en masse for President Goodluck Jonathan and other candidates of our great party at the elections. We are aware of a script already prepared to rationalise the eventual non-participation of the non-indigenes by attributing it to voter apathy,” the party said.
Urging its supporters in the affected states to remain calm and law abiding, the PDP charged the leadership of INEC to take immediate steps to halt the trend and ensure that its officials involved in this crime are arrested and prosecuted.
The PDP stressed that “any delay in this direction is capable of sending a wrong signal to the electorate and other stakeholders in the 2015 elections.”
The party also urged INEC to reinforce the electorate’s confidence in the process by ensuring that all eligible voters receive their PVCs before the elections.
Speaking in the same breadth, the Lagos branch of Ohanaeze Ndigbo accused INEC of ethnic bias in the distribution of PVCs in the state.
The pan-Igbo socio-cultural body alleged that it had uncovered a calculated attempt by the electoral umpire to disenfranchise Igbos in Lagos.
It observed that many Igbos in Lagos had not got their PVCs not because they failed to register, but because the commission has refused to release the cards to them.
Alleging bias against INEC officials in Lagos, Ohanaeze stated that many Igbos who are registered have been unable to exchange the temporary voters’ cards (TVCs) for the new PVCs, because INEC officials refused to release the cards in bulk to Igbo community leaders to deliver to their kinsmen whom they know, just as the officials had done for Yoruba community leaders.
At a joint media briefing attended by Igbo town and community leaders in different parts of Lagos, the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos, Fabian Onwughalu, said that on request, INEC officials issued in bulk to Yoruba community leaders the PVCs of those they could reach but refused to grant Igbo community leaders similar consideration.
According to him, the INEC officials are executing a well-calculated strategy aimed at ensuring that Igbos do not get their PVCs to exercise their franchise.
“Having reviewed the situation for a very long time and after putting so much pressure on INEC to make these cards easily available to our people to no avail, we have decided to tell Nigerians about this systematic strategy by INEC to disenfranchise Igbos and ensure that majority of our people do not participate in the coming elections,” Onwuhalu stated.
He said the act and systematic strategy to disfranchise Igbo people was condemnable, unacceptable and unconscionable.
He called on INEC to retrace its steps and order its personnel in Lagos, especially in the local councils, to apply equal and the same measures to all and sundry in the state by giving Igbo community leaders and leaders of recognised groups the cards for onward distribution to their people as they had done for Yoruba leaders.
According to Onwughalu, this act of selective bias has been the trend especially in local councils predominantly inhabited by the Igbos. He specifically listed Amuwo Odofin and Oriade, which he said comprises 11 wards.
He said all Igbos resident in areas like Ajeromi Ifelodun, Alimosho Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Apapa Iganmu LCDA, Agboyin Ketu, Agbala Okendo, Badagry, Coker Aguda are on the verge of being denied of their right to get their PVCs.
Other areas he mentioned include Etiosa East, Ejigbo, Ilado Abulekun, Ikeja, Ikorodu, Ifelodun, Ikosi Ejirin, Isolo, Ifako Ijaye, Itire, Ikate, Iba, and Kosefe, Lagos Mainland, Lekki, Mushin, Oshodi, Ojokoro, Ota Awori, Shomolu, Ojo, Ojodu, Surulere and others.
Presenting evidence to buttress the allegation, the Igbo towns and communities leaders took turns to share their personal experiences and findings in the affected areas.
Similarly, a political interest organisation, Credible Alternative Alliance (CAA), led by former Kaduna State Governor, Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, also alleged that INEC was tilting the distribution of PVCs to favour areas believed to be the strongholds of the presidential candidate of the APC, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari.
The group presented a statistical analysis of the distribution of PVCs, which showed the number of registered voters yet to collect their PVCs in various zones.
According to CAA, the South-east has 3,287,530, South-west – 7,411,205, South-south – 3,844,370, North-east – 2,429,763, North-west – 4,835,556, North-central – 3,907,849, and FCT – 421,559.
On the distribution of PVCs, CAA said it had observed “a criminal gross disparity of voter spread designed to tilt the election to a pre-determined outcome”.
The group insisted that all the 68.8 million registered voters must be given unfettered access to freely collect their PVCs and cast their vote as provided for in the constitution, adding that it would be forced to take INEC to court if that condition is not met.
“Let us call a spade a spade. There are two main contenders for the presidency in this election. The analysed data above depicts a worrying trend. Voters in the zones that tend to support President Goodluck Jonathan are massively disenfranchised by the application of the so-called PVCs debacle, 40 per cent to 50 per cent of voters in the these regions who are lawfully and duly registered to vote will be denied their right to vote by INEC.
“That is nearly half of the support base of the president, simply nullified by administrative manipulation prior to the election. By comparison, the zones that tend to support Buhari are handed a massive voter advantage, nearly 80 per cent of his support base will be allowed to cast their votes by INEC.
“In an election, which many say will be won or lost by a slim margin, to now disenfranchise 26 million voters through a questionable and unlawful rule by INEC is not acceptable by any measure.
“CAA condemns in its entirety this attempt by INEC to undermine our democracy through this criminal enterprise to determine the outcome of this election before the ballot is cast,” the Musa-led group said.
While speaking on the controversies raging over the coming election, Musa said there is no way INEC would be able to distribute the outstanding PVCs within the time left before the polls.
“INEC cannot meet up with the issuance of voters card to all registered voters. For example, INEC is talking about distributing outstanding permanent voters cards. Let us assume that sufficient PVCs have been produced by the commission, how are these PVCs being distributed.
“We have credible information that in some places in the rural areas that INEC staff take the PVCs for distribution and because of past disappointment, they refuse to come out for collection of PVCs.
“The commission staff then leave the PVCs to community leaders to distribute. I believe that should not be the responsibility of the village heads to do that but INEC.
“Again, how can we realistically expect INEC to make PVCs available to every registered voter within two weeks; something they failed to do in many years. What they failed to do in two years, they are saying they will do in two weeks,” he said.
Source: Thisday


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