Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group:- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has described the inconclusive Anambra State gubernatorial contest as a fairly long distance race but has charged the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Yakubu Mahmood to ensure transparent end to the contest.
HURIWA blames the disjointed fire-brigade sort of security strategy for the failure of nearly 40,000 armed security operatives to secure just 22 Local Government Areas of Anambra State for a successful one off gubernatorial poll just as the Rights group said if failure to deploy electoral materials in Ihiala Local Government Area caused the delay in concluded the election, it is a deliberate attempt to undermine the integrity of the electoral process by certain forces embedded within the security architectures. “If 40,000 armed police operatives, soldiers, Naval and Airforce and paramilitary operatives can’t secure Anambra State that is about 67% of the geographical area of Borno State, what is the guarantee that the entire Police of the ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES would be able to secure the 2023 general election?”
The Rights group which observed that from available empirical evidence, the contest represents one of the most open electoral contestation, the Rights group however condemned the fact that in spite of the overwhelming presence of armed policemen, a rogue electoral officer in one of the LGAs was allowed to disappear with such number of sensitive material for collation of results which led to the entire contest been declared inconclusive because he disenfranchised 40,000 voters in addition to the inability of the over 40,000 armed security forces to be effectively deployed around the 22 LGA councils to secure free, fair, peaceful conduct of the gubernatorial poll.
“Whereas we are deeply and profoundly impressed by the open and peaceful nature of the election that lasted 48 hours due to avoidable technological glitches of malfunction of the capturing computers, (BIOMODAL VOTERS AUTHENTICATION SYSTEM), we in the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) is in no way disappointed except for the fact that over 40,000 reported armed Police Operatives, soldiers and other paramilitary troops were even grossly insufficient to stop just one rogue electoral officer from the grand scale attempt to undermine the conclusion of the election in which the courageous electorate have widely made their free and accountable choice of the individual that they so want to govern Anambra State”.
HURIWA therefore is recommending effective and efficient use of technology to combat such attempt by compromised electoral officer to undermine the integrity of the process as was attempted by the person who reportedly disappeared with the electoral result for one of the Local government just as the Rights group said it is unthinkable that INEC has so far not named, shamed and declare that indicted official as a persona non grata and thereby put effective prosecutorial mechanism to bring the person to face the consequences of his illegal conduct which was meant to destroy such a beautiful exercise by INEC. Questions must be asked why over 40,000 armed men can guarantee security in just one State for the GUBERNATORIAL poll. VOTERS must be given the appropriate reason why this is so inspired of the huge sacrifices made by them to forego some of their fundamental rights such as FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT”.
“HURIWA is saddened that the Anambra governorship election has been declared inconclusive by INEC. The state Returning Officer for the election, Florence Obi, the vice-chancellor of University of Calabar, who made the declaration in the early hours of Monday, around 12:20 a.m., said this was because there was no election in Ihiala Local Government Area which has over 148,000 registered voters. INEC could not deploy voting materials to Ihiala during Saturday’s election because of the security threat, she said.
The Rights group expressed bitterness that an election official successfully disappeared with almost the entire result sheets of the governorship election held at a ward in Idemili South Local Government Area, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) is reporting thus disenfranchising N40,000 voters.
HURIWA cited media report stating that Gabriel Othong, the Returning Officer of the Iocal government announced during the collation of results in Awka, the state capital that the official, a Supervising Polling Officer (SPO) disappeared with 41 of the 42 result sheets for 89 polling units in the area. Mr Othong, a lecturer from the University of Calabar in Cross River, also added that there was no election in Oba Ward 1, Oba Ward 11 and Akukwu ward all in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra.“One of the SPOs carted 41 Result Sheets out of the 42 Result sheets meant for the 89 polling units in the affected wards. “Over 40, 000 voters were not able to vote in the affected areas due to the development,” he said.