By Abubakar Yunus
Pro-democracy and leading civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has told political parties who lost the elections in Imo and will lose in Kogi and Bayelsa states, not to waste their time going to the tribunals.
This was as the rights group also condemned the sporadic violence, armed thuggery and electoral heists that took place in some areas of the recently held off-cycle elections.
HURIWA also condemned the reported widespread manipulations of the electoral processes in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi States just as the rights group wondered why the influence of cash-for-votes is still in practice during elections so much so that operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) successfully arrested 14 suspected vote buyers and confiscated millions of naira from the suspects in Otueke, Adawari playgrounds in Bayelsa and at various polling units in Imo and Kogi.
HURIWA applauded the EFCC for the deployment of its personnel to monitor Saturday’s governorship elections to prevent politicians and their agents from engaging in vote buying during the elections.
The EFCC explained that the exercise against the vote buyers was part of the EFCC’s drive to checkmate electoral fraud and associated financial crimes. HURIWA has once more called on Nigerians to respect themselves, uphold their human dignity and reject the temptations to sell their votes to politicians during elections as were the cases in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi during the recently ended off-cycle elections.
“Any potential voter who sells his/her vote is simply a person who has willingly sold himself/herself into political servitude because the governor who goes into office that he bribed his way to attain, will focus exclusively on how he can recoup his massive cash investment during his campaign and election.
“On no account should a citizen negotiate or accept cash for votes. This is a very dangerous social evil that must be stamped out by every means available to law enforcement agencies. We therefore encourage the EFCC and ICPC to upgrade their operations during polls to stamp out the evil of cash for votes in Nigeria” the rights group stated.
HURIWA in a media statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, condemned the inability of the security agencies, especially the police and the military to proactively minimise the incidents of violence that characterised the elections in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi States just as the rights group cited the kidnapping of election officials from INEC in Bayelsa as one aspect to show that there were security failures witnessed during the exercise on Saturday.
The group said, “So why did the service chiefs inundate Nigerians with promises that the off-circle gubernatorial polls will be peaceful? Did these service chiefs deliberately feed Nigerians with falsehoods and lies? So what happened? How come that even in Imo State, the police operatives and bureau were deployed by the incumbent administration to manipulate the election in many local government areas of the state?”
HURIWA recalled that the Independent National Electoral Commission on Saturday announced that one of its Supervisory Presiding Officers, who was abducted at the Amassoma jetty in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, on the eve of the governorship election, has been released.