The Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) has warned against plots by some politicians to frustrate efforts of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), stop the use of Biomodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and remove its Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, saying such move may truncate the forthcoming general elections in 2023.
The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) had earlier raised the alarm of a purported move by some politicians to compromise the 2023 elections, by mounting pressures on INEC to deactivate the BVAS from its server, including stopping the electronic transmission of results, said it may not augur well for the country, which has witnessed democratic leadership for over two decades.
But creating to the development at a press conference, Friday in Abuja, Executive Director of CTA, Faith Nwadishi, described the allegations as both worrisome and scary, noting that was scarier because INEC has made attempt to clean up the voter register.
According to CTA, it is a known fact that Nigerian’s election administration has witnessed a steady improvement in credibility, acceptability, and inclusivity, from the conduct of 2015 and 2019 as well as the 103 off cycle elections and bye elections after the 2019 general elections, stressing that only 133 days to the 2023 general election, it behooves Nigeria and Nigerians to protect the electoral body from becoming compromised by negative elements.
She revealed that about 2.7 million invalid registrants were cleaned up from the INEC system, which included those who are underage, those who had no reason to register as provided by law and those who registered twice.
Her words, “Recent disclosures and developments have again activated in us the responsibility to speak in
defence of our country, Nigeria, and her democracy.
“The 2023 general election, which is 133 days away, is upon Nigeria and Nigerians. There is no doubt that Nigerian’s election administration has witnessed a steady improvement in credibility, acceptability, and inclusivity, from the conduct of 2015 and 2019 as well as the 103 off cycle elections and bye elections after the 2019 general elections.
“The timetable released by Independent National Electoral Commission in February 2022 identified 14 critical activities to be accomplished by the Commission leading to the election day.
“According to INEC releases to the public so far, nine (9) out of the fourteen (14) activities have been successfully accomplished and campaign by political parties and candidates has since commenced nationwide.
“CTA is pleased to state that so far, we are impressed with the level of preparation and accomplishment by the Independent National Electoral Commission the recent of which is the upsurge during the just concluded continuous voter registration exercise.
“We have observed the innovations introduced by the Electoral Body to increase transparency and ensure credibility of the electoral process.
“These innovations especially those leveraging on technology to improve voter accreditation, result management have so far increased voter’s confidence in the electoral process. CTA observes that some of the pre-election activities are exuding hope and confidence that the process of 2023 general election is on a cheering trajectory.
“According to the national Chairman of INEC, prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, the cleaning up of the voter registration data using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) that combines the fingerprint and the facial authentication of registered voters is completed.
” 2.7 million invalid registrants were
cleaned up from the system. These include those who are underage, those who had no reason to register as provided by law and those who registered twice. This act has shown that the Commission is on the right cause to getting a credible voters register. CTA notes that there can’t be credible elections without a credible register of voters. We therefore commend the Commission for taking steps necessary to protect the integrity of the Register of Voters”.
Commenting on the political class preparations towards the elections, Nwadishi noted that while INEC has shown sign of progress, the political class have not produced complimentary progress or shown reasonable commitment to the new Electoral Act to add to the confidence of Nigerians.
“For instance, they are yet to show commitment to the new Electoral Act and its provisions and continue in their old ways of heating up the polity using hate speeches and not addressing issues. You may recall that CTA in a press conference on 29th September 2022 set an agenda for the campaigns.
“We are yet to see the political parties addressing any aspect of the agenda. On -14th September 2022 CUPP made startling revelations on the attempt to compromise INEC voter register. About four weeks later, the same CUPP made another damning revelation on the attempt to compromise the 2023 general elections. Before we delve into the substance of CUPP’s revelations, CTA puts on record that President Buhari is a beneficiary of a free election in 2015 and 2019 made possible by the card reader technology introduced by INEC.
“The President has also promised repeatedly that he will bequeath a legacy of a free, fair and credible elections in 2023. As a beneficiary of free election, one of which led to the defeat of an incumbent, Nigerians strongly believe that there is nothing that will make the President to renege on that important promise to Nigerians.
“CTA therefore strongly condemns such plans and urges Nigerians to rally around INEC and its current leadership to resist any attempt to halt the use of the BVAS machines as well as protect
INEC chairman and National Commissioners from any form of intimidation, harassment, and undue pressure.
“Nigerian’s must insist on the use of the BVAS and the electronic transmission of results from the polling units. We deserve a better democracy with credible election as its foundation. Nigerians will no longer fold their arms and watch any electoral progress we have made wiped out by the real enemies of our democracy.”
The immediate past Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Enugu State, Chief Emeka Ononamadu corroborated CTA, saying Nigerians cannot afford to keep quiet while a group of politicians truncate the democratic process.
He said it was rather too close for comfort for anybody to contemplate distractions on the part of INEC which is warming up to discharge its mandate as enshrined in the Electoral Act.