The leaders of the Int’l Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), the Southeast Zone of the Civil Liberties Organization (Southeast CLO) and the Southeast Based Coalition of Democracy and Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs) have called for comprehensive investigations into the just conducted Anambra Governorship Election held on 6th and concluded on 9th November 2021.
Such investigations, the groups said, must be hybrid having national and international dimensions and centered on failures associated with BVAS machines, their handlers and the roles played by other stakeholders.
A statement by the groups on Tuesday adds: “The outcomes of such investigations shall be geared towards ensuring that severe sanctions are meted out to those found culpable, INEC’s ICT and its management staffers totally overhauled and syndicate presently manning same dismantled; thereby leading to the repositioning of the Electoral Umpire and getting it right in future elections and restoring international confidence in the country’s electoral process.
“This joint call of ours has become extremely important and geared towards exposing an existing gang of digital electoral fraudsters manning the Commission’s ICT who go about rigging digitally with reckless abandon using digital terrorism to facilitate massive disenfranchisement of millions of registered voters thereby putting their collective sacred electoral mandate and future in grave danger and selling same to the highest bidders in the end at accursed prices. We are deeply dismayed that for the first time in the history of democratic elections in Anambra State and beyond, INEC has supervised an all-important Governorship Election that deliberately and systematically shut out about 500,000 PVC holders including over 250,000 disenfranchised by the Commission’s massively failed BVAS; and as if that was not enough, the INEC’s poorly conducted Poll, in the end, produced an “electoral college results” of total valid votes cast of 241,000 and the declared winner’s results of 112,000. This is the lowest governorship total results in the history of elections in Nigeria. This is out of the State’s total registered voters of 2,446,000 and PVC holders of not less than 2.1m.
“In all these, instead of the Commission apologizing to Anambra voters and its citizens and Nigerians in general and wielding its big sticks on its compromised staffers particularly its key top ICT officials and publicly overhauling same; the Commission is busy mobilizing and procuring persons and entities with minus characters including the so called “CSO Leaders” to engage in a harvest of praise-singing, image laundering and legitimization of the highly non-inclusive and discriminatory Poll. What transpired on Channels Television on Monday, 22nd November 2021 is a typical case in point.
“Therefore, while forensic and administrative investigations are mandatorily required to ascertain the cause(s) of widespread failure of the INEC’s Bi-modal Voters’ Capturing System Machines (BVAS) in at least many of the Anambra State’s 5,720 polling units and 326 collation centers, roles played by the INEC’s Abuja headquarters of its ICT and its headship as well as the deployed ICT HODs must be thoroughly investigated and those found culpable sanctioned. As a matter of fact, those to be internally and externally investigated thoroughly include the three … leaders manning the INEC’s National Directorate of ICT: Chidi Nwafor, INEC National Director of ICT, Oladunjoye Abimbola (Ms) and Agwu Ama Ibom (top officers of the Commission’s National ICT Department). While Emeka Nnaji, Anambra Head of Department of ICT for the Commission should be spared or cleared, the deployed HODs for the Poll including HOD Rivers (in charge of Aguata), HOD Ebonyi, HOD Enugu, HOD Akwa Ibom (in charge of Anambra West/East) and former HOD, Delta (in charge of Ihiala) must be thoroughly investigated and sanctioned. The sanctions under demand are in line with the principles of vicarious and direct liabilities.
“Investigations under demand must include unmasking the causes of the widespread BVAS failure in many of the State’s 5,720 polling units and 326 collation centers and the likelihood of deliberate programming of same for failure which could most likely have been caused by corruption and immorality including demand and acceptance of heavy bribes. This is more so when from available information, the BVAS machines for the Poll were successfully test-run two to three days before the Poll with 95% functionality. We also have it on good authority that the secured areas’ pass codes for the BVAS machines for Anambra Governorship Poll were hijacked and centralized, thereby making it almost impossible for resident HODs in the State to access and easily apply them during the Poll. We understand, too, that enough funds to the tune of over N4billion was released to INEC for Anambra Poll.
This was to the extent that only the trio of the INEC’s top ICT heads and members of their clique were reported to have access to the pass codes. If this is true, we hereby ask: is it not correct to say that INEC’s ICT is presently manned by a cabal that has heavily compromised and afflicted same with corruptive viruses? We understand, as alleged, that the above mentioned trio has a lot of secret codes and applications in their ICT Department which most of their HODs are not in the knowledge of. This is more so when they are said to periodically undertake foreign trainings in the ICT manipulation management which, in the end, are strange and unknown to most of others.
“We additionally ask: Is it correct to say that the pieces of information contained in the above paragraph are correct? By the way, how are we sure that the widespread failed BVAS machines were not originally programmed for riotous and scientific rigging of the Poll? Is it not correct to say that BVAS machines failed woefully in many or about 70% of the State’s polling units and collation centers? Is it also not correct to say that several places where BVAS failed, manual voting was used? Is it correct to say, for instance, that in Ebenebe Ward 2 under Awka North where manual voting was substantially used, BVAS machines deployed in nine of the ten polling units have disappeared or gone missing till date? Is it not correct to say that in Aguleri Ward 1 under Anambra East, there was substantial resort to manual voting in majority of its polling units? In the case of manual voting in several areas due to widespread BVAS failure, does Electoral Act of 2010 as amended allow room for such? Can BVAS machine fail to accredit voters but turnaround and allow voting? Is it not correct to say that voting never took place in places like Isseke na Isii, Lilu, Orsumoghu and others under Ihiala Local Government Area? Is it also not correct to say that voting never took place in Owelle, Ukwale and Innoma and others in Anambra West? How truly independent, neutral, impartial, uncompromised, un-purchasable and credible is the the INEC’s Directorate of ICT and its senior technical handlers? These are just to ask but a few.
“A Lot Of Work to Be Done By Int’l Partners And Anti Graft Bodies
“Beyond investigating the named INEC ICT staffers and their roles, the int’l partners and anti graft bodies also have a lot of works to do in sanitizing the country’s Electoral Umpire and process. It must be pointed out that with the way things are going Nigeria’s democracy is heading to irreversible ruination and the present crop of Civil Society organizations and their leaders are dangerously becoming conspiratorial. This they do by aiding and abetting the electoral roguery or armada of fraud and their perpetrators. Therefore, it is time for international development partners involved in funding the country’s electoral process and its Umpire as well as anti graft agencies to mount sustained pressures on INEC and the country’s political leaders to fully democratize and rid the process including INEC of teething corruption and related malpractices.
“In the instant case, therefore, the int’l partners funding or supporting Nigeria’s electoral process and anti graft campaigns are respectfully called upon to mount pressures on INEC, anti graft bodies and the Nigerian Government to order and conduct thorough investigations into despicable roles of the named INEC’s ICT top staffers in the November 2021 Anambra Governorship Poll. To ensure these, such investigations must go beyond their perceived administrative gross misconducts to include investigations into their lifestyles and acquisition and ownership of choice properties in their names or through their cronies. Possibly acquired and owned properties to be investigated include shopping malls, poultries and other industrial farms in their names or their cronies, associates and phony others. Others to be subjected to thorough investigations are hostels in their names; fleet of cars, hotels, filling stations, dwelling houses, cash and other money worth deposits including gold and shares, estate properties and undeveloped others, etc.”
▪︎ By Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chidimma Eva Udegbunam, Comrades Aloysius Attah, Vincent Ezekwueme, Prof Jerry Chukwuokoro & Okezie Kelechi, PhD