HURIWA Blows Hot Over INEC 2023 Election  Irregularities

HURIWA Blows Hot Over INEC 2023 Election Irregularities

…Backs The Guardian report on the 2023 poll

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA has expressed concerned over the just conducted 2023 General elections and the subsequent response by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

HURIWA which endorsed a recent cover page publication of the nation’s media flagship, The Guardian on the high numbers of political litigation arising from the 2023 general election as symptomatic and glaring evidence of a badly organised election by INEC, said too, that ‘’it is with grave concern that we call upon INEC to acknowledge and rectify the gargantuan irregularities, manipulations, and massive rigging that have tainted the credibility of this crucial democratic process’’.

Disclosing this in a statement on Friday, HURIWA’s   National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko stressed that the allegations of irregularities in the 2023 elections are not to be taken lightly.

The group also ‘’wondered why the INEC hierarchy is behaving like an ‘unrepentant election bandit and rogue’, by seeking to justify a totally condemnable and despicable electoral heists that characterised the February 25th Presidential Election in the Country. ‘’

“INEC’S leadership must come clean, apologise and bear full responsibility for mismanaging the conduct of the 2023 Nigerian election that looked like a game of political terrorists whereby MIGHT BECAME RIGHT and the weak were chased away from polling units across the Country especially in Lagos State whereby members of a certain ethnicity were stopped by armed thugs purportedly sent by Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s ally MC Oluomo from exercising their democratic franchise only because of perception that they wouldn’t vote for the All Progressives Congress’s presidential candidate as he was then Bola Ahmed Tinubu. ‘’

‘’It will be recalled that INEC reacted to a front page report by The Guardian (Nigeria) newspaper in its edition of Wednesday 18th October 2023 entitled “INEC’s credibility sinks as 94% contested posts awaits tribunal”.

‘’The commission through its National Commissioner & Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Sam Olumekun in a press statement explains that the Commission would have ignored the report if it did not emanate from one of our country’s flagship newspapers which has over the years established a reputation for the quality of its stories, incisive analysis, factual accuracy, balance and lately the innovative use of infographics.

INEC’s claim of inaccuracies in the media’s reporting is a matter of perspective. The public, media, and concerned stakeholders have legitimate concerns about the electoral process. INEC should not dismiss these concerns, but rather address them with transparency and accountability.

The assertion that the State Assembly elections were held in only 28 states due to the off-cycle nature of executive elections in eight states is not a sufficient explanation. INEC should provide a clear and comprehensive account of the entire electoral process to dispel any doubts.

While it is true that INEC does not conduct political party primaries, it must ensure that the subsequent general elections are conducted with integrity and fairness. The dismissal and withdrawal of many election petitions do not negate the fact that irregularities existed. It is crucial to focus on addressing these issues rather than dismissing them.

The analysis of the total number of petitions should not be oversimplified. Each petition represents a voice, a concern, and a potential irregularity. To brush these off as mere numerical figures is to ignore the real issues faced by voters and candidates.’’

The group emphasizes that INEC’s responsibility goes beyond merely conducting elections but creating an environment of trust and confidence in the electoral process. The integrity of elections is of paramount importance in any democratic society. The issues raised during the 2023 elections cannot be swept under the rug.

The grounds for challenging the outcome of an election, as outlined in the Electoral Act, encompass a wide range of issues, including candidate eligibility. It is essential for INEC to cooperate with relevant authorities and political parties to ensure that only qualified candidates participate in future elections.

HURIWA implores INEC to acknowledge its shortcomings, address the concerns raised by citizens, and work towards rebuilding the trust of the Nigerian people in the electoral process. A true democracy depends on the transparency and credibility of its elections.

‘’We urge INEC to cover its face in humility, embrace accountability, and commit to rectifying the irregularities witnessed in the 2023 elections. It is not an act of shame to admit shortcomings; it is a sign of strength and commitment to a more democratic Nigeria.’’

HURIWA is dedicated to supporting efforts to strengthen the democratic process in Nigeria and will continue to hold institutions accountable for upholding the principles of transparency, integrity, and fairness in elections.

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