The All Progressives Congress (APC) believes that Nigeria can organise truly free, fair, credible and transparent elections in the nearest future if the recent comments by INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega reflect the thinking of the electoral commission.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Monday by Alhaji Lai Mohammed, National Publicity Secretary of APC, the party said three issues stand out in comments credited to the INEC boss: that hooded security personnel would no longer be allowed during elections; that the security paraphernalia in future elections should be under the control of INEC and that the Commission will use e-card readers for the 2015 general elections.
It said if indeed the INEC boss meant what he said, then it is a breakthrough of sorts in Nigeria’s long quest to hold elections that are not only free, fair and transparent, but are seen to be so by the local and international community.
APC however said it would hold Prof. Jega to his promises to avoid a repeat of the situation in the past when promises made by the electoral chief were not kept.
“During the voter’s registration exercise, Prof. Jega vowed that anyone who engages in double or multiple registration would be prosecuted. However, some parties who probably had an advanced knowledge that his statement was an empty threat apparently encouraged their members to engage in double or multiple registration, thus gaining undue advantage over others, yet they were never prosecuted.
“Also, during the last Ekiti Governorship Election, Prof. Jega announced that colour-coded ballot papers would be used in different local governments to prevent election fraud, but that never happened and no reason was given for the failure. This is why we intend to hold Prof. Jega to every word he said in connection with the key issues mentioned above,” the party said.
APC recalled that before the Osun governorship election earlier this month, the party warned that the use of hooded security personnel would encourage hoodlums with access to police or DSS uniforms to invade the state and perpetrate mayhem in the name of providing security.
“Sadly, that is exactly what happened during the election. In fact, media reports have said at least one person is now being prosecuted after he and others were found wearing black T-shirts with the inscription ‘Police’ in front and ‘DSS’ on its back during the Osun election. Is there any clearer evidence that some of those who came to Osun in hoods were actually fake security agents?” the party queried.
It also recalled that on May 26th, 2014, the APC issued a statement in which it tasked INEC to immediately commence the process that will lead to the use of the e-card reader for the elections in Ekiti and Osun States, if indeed the electoral body is committed to ensuring that the polls are free, fair and transparent.
“If that advice had been heeded by INEC, perhaps the allegations of electoral fraud, and the litigation following the elections in both states, would not have arisen.
“As we said in the May 26th statement, ‘Impersonation, multiple voting and endless altercations and associated tension will be eliminated at the voting centres with the use of e-card reader and not by any other means. Also, the e-card reader will ensure the automatic recording of all accredited voters with verified permanent voter’s.
cards in such a way that does not lend itself to manipulation, thus preventing the falsification of results at the collation centers,” APC said.
The party challenged INEC to put its money where its mouth is by using October’s Governorship Election in Adamawa State to test the measures that will ensure credible elections in 2015, including barring hooded security personnel, taking charge of the security men and women to be deployed for the election and using e-card reader to forestall electoral fraud.