Attacks and intimidation will not stop credible elections, promises INEC

With some 75 days to go before the 2023 general election, the Independent National Electoral Commission says that no amount of attack or intimidation will deter it from taking advantage of the 2022 Electoral Law to conduct a free, fair and credible exercise.

He regretted what he called the misunderstanding of the Electoral Law and the deliberate action of key political actors and interested parties to mislead voters.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Election Information and Education Committee Festus Okoye spoke on Saturday in Abuja at a media/civil society organization engagement with INEC on identifying and mitigating electoral disinformation and misinformation hotspots .

The program was organized by the International Press Center, with the support of the European Union.

In his keynote address titled “Election Misinformation and Disinformation Issues, Perspectives, and Critical Points,” Okoye said that as the commission prepares for the election, there were commission issues, processes, and procedures that had been skewed to confuse the public. Nigerians or delegitimize the commission and the electoral process

He added: “Some of the critical stakeholders in the electoral process have not made the transition from the 2010 Electoral Law (amended) to the 2022 Electoral Law. Some of them continue to cite sections of the law that have been repealed or amended.

“In addition, some of the stakeholders are not comfortable with some of the provisions intended to strengthen the electoral regime and will prefer to go back to the old law. The reality is that the commission must conduct the 2023 general election based on the 2022 Electoral Law. Attacking the commission based on its determination to conduct an election based on the law will not change its determination to organize, conduct and supervise the elections in Nigeria”.

He said the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the 2022 Electoral Law empowered the commission to make subsidiary legislation, but that sometimes, “there is a deliberate injection of confusion into our processes when some people start circulating information that voters registered do not need your permanent permit.” voter cards to vote in any election.”

‘BVAS offline mode’

Okoye also said that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System could work offline and does not require a network for voter verification and authentication.

It added: “BVAS is here to stay and will be used and deployed for the conduct of the 2023 general election. Section 47(2) of the Electoral Act makes the use of the BVAS for voter authentication and verification mandatory and the commission does not has the discretionary authority to use or not use the device”.

“Also, those with double and multiple PVCs are now unable to use them. Those who are masters of using Advocacy Forms have been put out of business and want to go back to the old ways of conducting elections. Some of them are claiming that the BVAS uses a network and there is no network in their localities”.

E-transmission and collation

Meanwhile, the National Commissioner noted that the introduction of electronic transmission of results had been a game changer in the electoral process, noting that it had reduced incidents of hijacking and hacking of results on the way to the collation centers.

“Articles 50 and 64 of the Electoral Law make the electronic transmission of results mandatory at the voting unit level. The commission will continue to improve its processes, but it will not be involved in a debate on resolved issues, ”he added.

On the commission’s pronouncement that it was prepared for a repeat should the need arise, Okoye said the commission had been largely misunderstood, adding: “Some people even challenged the commission and said, ‘Why did you Are you preparing for a repeat? when we’ve already won.’” The comment drew laughter from the audience.

He added: “Section 134 of the constitution directs the commission to prepare for all possible scenarios and eventualities related to the outcome of the presidential and gubernatorial elections. Candidates for the presidential and gubernatorial elections must meet the numerical and geographic threshold in section 134(2) and 178(2) of the constitution to be declared the winner of the election.

He said that if there was a replay, it would take place within 21 days between the candidate with the most votes and the one with the most votes in the most states. “We must resist the danger and temptation of rigid expectations intended to prevent the commission from preparing for all possible scenarios in accordance with constitutional dictates,” he added.

He reiterated that the provisional registry had 93,522,272 voters, noting that the commission would continue to clean up the registry to visibly eliminate underage registrants.

Vote buying, national shame

On the threat of vote buying, Okoye said the commission is concerned that politicians, realizing that every vote counts, would go to polling stations with bags of money to induce voters or use some digital means. .

He said the country’s democracy should not be for sale, but the commission would continue to implement policy and work with financial regulatory and law enforcement agencies to control the threat. “However, the commission does not have the power to go from house to house looking for vote buyers and sellers,” he added. “This is a sad development that casts our country in a very bad light. The commission has made it clear that open vote buying on Election Day will not be tolerated.”

Earlier, the executive director of the International Press Center, Lanre Arogundade, said the role of the media was further complicated by politicians’ penchant for “telling blatant lies to get cheap political points.”

A senior fellow at the Center for Democracy and Development, Professor Jibrin Ibrahim, urged journalists not to let fake news peddlers take over election narratives, but to remain professional in carrying out their constitutional role. in society.

Meanwhile, INEC Katsina State Head of Elections and Party Monitoring Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim-Umar on Friday warned politicians and political parties against using provocative and abusive words during campaigns.

US visa restriction

Meanwhile, the US Consulate General in Lagos, Will Stevens, has said that his plan to impose visa restrictions on people who are complicit in violence during elections is still in place.

Asked in an interview with one of our correspondents on Friday if the United States has imposed such a restriction on anyone in the past, he said: “Yes, we have imposed visa restrictions in the past and against those responsible or complicit in undermining the process. democratic and we remain fully prepared to do so again in the context of the upcoming elections.

“Anyone who seeks to undermine the democratic process may be found ineligible for visas to the United States, so it is essential that people understand that and that we seek that all Nigerians reject the use of violence and inflammatory language before, during and after. the elections.”

Asked how many of those people have been denied t-visas, he said: “I can’t share with you the number or the names, but I can tell you that it definitely happened and we’re willing to do it again.”

dogara speaks

A former speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, on Saturday urged Nigerians to avoid violence and acts of vote buying and selling.

Speaking at the 12th convocation and 15th anniversary of Achievers University, Owo, Ondo State, on Saturday, Dogara, who is the chancellor of the institution, said: “This event is happening at a time when Nigeria is preparing for another round of elections. . We cannot look the other way as interested parties. Therefore, it is imperative that we have a voice to move the nation forward. I would like to strongly appeal to you and other Nigerians to have faith in Nigeria.

“Remember, the power is your vote and the vote is your future, don’t sell it or keep it in your room. You must use it. Participate by going out en masse to vote for your conscience. Vote for unity, peace, justice and development”.

The university’s rector, Dr. Bode Ayorinde, said all staff would enlist with the pension administrators of their choice to allow them to be on a par with workers at public universities.

Chancellor Professor Sam Aje urged graduating students to make proper use of the skills and knowledge acquired at school when they reach the outside world.

Internally displaced persons from Borno prepared

Borno State Resident Election Commissioner Mohammed Abubakar has said internally displaced people in the two remaining camps in the Maiduguri metropolis will vote in the upcoming elections.

He spoke at a press conference on Friday.

Some IDPs at Muna Garage Camp and Customs IDP Camp expressed their willingness to vote as they did in the 2019 elections.

INEC’s Head of Voter Education and Publicity in the state, Shuaibu Ibrahim, said IDPs who had returned to their homes would not be disenfranchised. “Even when they were in camps in the Maiduguri metropolis, they were registered in their respective home towns or villages, so their change of location from Maiduguri to their homes will not disenfranchise them at all,” he said.

Leave a Comment