SPECIAL INVESTIGATIVE STATEMENT
Presidential Poll Rigging & Voter Intimidation: Tinubu, Buhari & Ors Must Avoid Detonation Of Looming Time-Bomb In Nigeria
The present central Government of Nigeria is dangerously pushing the country to the brink of abyss or bottomless chasm of fragmentation and intractable citizens’ radicalism. A new dangerous dimension has been added to the Nigerian Election system whereby citizens of the Igbo Nation and those of non Igbo South-south and Northern Christian faith can no longer freely and conscientiously vote in elections conducted in their motherland without being shot at, killed, maimed, burnt, intimidated, suppressed, militarily chased and framed; with their properties and residences in danger and their votes mangled or brutally suppressed; all by hired State and non State violent actors.
Countries & Leaders Consumed By Election Rigging & Dictatorship
Election rigging has been severally researched around the world in recent years and found to constitute the bulky percentage of regional, sovereignty and intra sovereignty disorders or turbulences resulted to intractable and complex humanitarian emergencies; defying interventions and resolutions by global and regional bodies and respected personalities. Poll Rigging has also ruined countries and their tyrannical leaders; wiping off their generations or quieting them in perpetuity in the domestic, regional, international or across border gulags and dungeons; and has further caused havocs and destructions including mass deaths, displacement of tens of millions, facilitation of involuntary migrations and eruption of mass hunger and diseases.
In Rwanda, the stubbornness and murderous tactics of late Gen Juvenal Habyarimana and his Hutu extremists to remain in power in perpetuity through manipulation of the country’s electoral process reached a crescendo in April 1994, leading to 100 days of genocide with estimated 1m deaths and ousting of the atrocious regime-with its surviving members ended themselves with members of their households in Goma Refugee Camp in now Democratic Republic of Congo. The military plane carrying the late President Habyarimana and his airborne encourage crashed in suspicious circumstances leading to their instant death on 6th April 1994.
In Ivory Coast, once the most beautiful country and tourist hub of West Africa, it was brutal manipulation of electoral process and quest to remain in power in perpetuity that got the country in ruins and later got its tyrant-in-formation, Gen Laurent Gbagbo arrested and handcuffed in April 2011; forcing him to spend over seven years in international trial prison at ICC.
Charles Taylor of Liberia, now jailed war criminal and former President of Liberia (2nd August 1997-11th August 2003) had sought an end to the dictatorial and limitless tenure regime of late Sergeant Gen Samuel Doe. He picked up arms in December 1989 through his NPFL; leading to brutal civil war that ravaged the country. Charles Taylor turned around and became a butcher dictator during his violent Presidency, in addition to his dastardly role in the Sierra Leonean Civil War of 1991-1992, leading to his ousting (forced resignation), arrest and trial by the UN Special Court which jailed him for 50yrs in 2012.
The wife of Charles Taylor, Agnes Taylor was also arrested by the British Met Police and taken into custody in 2017 over string of charges bordering on tortures, rapes, etc reportedly committed between 1989 and 1991 or during the first Liberian Civil War. She was charged to a British Court in October 2018 during which she pleaded not guilty. Hissene Habre is a former military dictator of Chad from 1982 to 1990. In May 2016, he was found guilty by a special regional criminal court in Senegal; of human-rights abuses, including rape, sexual slavery and ordering the killing of 40,000 people, and sentenced to life in prison. He is the first former head of state in Africa to be convicted for human rights abuses in the court of another nation.
Instances are too numerous to mention. From late Col Mengistu Haile Mariam of Ethiopia, leader of the country from 1977 to 1991; Mobutu Sese Seko of former Zaire (now Congo DRC), 1965-1997; to President Bashar Al-Assad of Syria, born 11 September 1965), President of Syria since 17 July 2000; who is also the son of Hafez al-Assad, who was life President of Syria from 1971 to 2000 when he died in office; the above named former and present leaders have put their countries and populations in ruins just because of greed or quest for perpetual office power or to remain in office for life. Apart from consuming their countries, they have also been consumed in the process.
Presidential Poll Trailed By Armada Of Rigging & Widespread Voter Intimidation
It is not only that the Nigeria’s 2019 Presidential Poll was massively rigged across the country, but the most threatening and shocking part of it is persecution and unleashing of violence against the voting population on account of their ethnicity and religion. The Nigerian electoral process has become so bastardized and balkanized that independent citizens are no longer safe and free to vote or choose their leaders democratically without being killed or threatened to be killed or have their properties and polling centers burnt or destroyed.
In Lagos State, Tinubu and his loyal political goons mindlessly let loose on Igbo citizens of Southeast and South-south Nigeria; destroying and burning their polling centers and materials and threatening them with death and property seizure or destruction for voting according to their conscience. The same Tinubu and his loyal political goons had earlier reminded them of consequences that wait for them including threats and other unsafe conditions of their businesses unless they cast their bloc votes for APC.
In Sabon Gari (Igbo settlements) parts of Kano and Nasarawa States and Christian dominated Southern Kaduna, voter intimidation, military siege, destruction and burning of ballot materials and general fears of loss of life and property were the order of the day. In South-south Nigeria (Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta State), thousands of armed soldiers were deployed with firm instructions to chase away the teeming independent voters in the area.
The soldiers and other security chiefs including the DPO of Okrika Police Station in Rivers State also brazenly aided diversion, burning and destruction of ballot materials as well as disruption of voting process. Over half of those that came out to vote in the areas were chased away and injured or frustrated from voting. In several places where voting did not take place owing to deliberate withholding of ballot materials, results were manufactured and submitted to INEC in favor of APC.
In Nembe LGA of Bayelsa State, no poll took place in the entire seven wards of the LGA. A prominent APC politician who is also a former Governor of the State had in the night of Friday, Feb 22nd, moments after the arrival of ballot materials at the Local Government headquarters, Nembe Bassambiri, stormed the place with soldiers attached to JTF, opened fire and laid siege; leading to disappearance of the ballot materials and killing of a PDP agent and critically injuring of four others.
As a result, voting did not take place on 23rd Feb, yet 38,000 “votes” were awarded to PMB as well as declaration of APC Senatorial and House of Rep candidates in the area as “winners”. The Nembe electoral rigging and violence also led to days of protests, cutting the attention of the State REC who promised to cancel the manufactured results only to transmit same later to INEC in Abuja as “valid votes”.
The Role Of Southeast Govs & RECs In Suppression Of 5m Voters’ Turnout
In the entire five States of the Southeast, it was a field day for thuggery gangs hired by the Southeast Govs. Sensing the resolve of the Southeast voters to troupe out en masse or in their millions to vote in defiance of the Southeast Govs’ voter suppression and winning or 25% votes for PMB arrangements; the Govs and their agents engaged in all manners of voter intimidation and suppression so as to ensure the shrinking of bloc votes for the PDP candidate and his deputy.
The Southeast Govs’ sabotage was aided by widespread failure of card readers and late or non arrival of ballot materials in several polling centers as well as reported suppression of results of the PDP and inflation of those of APC. Appeals by many voters to INEC polling officers to allow for manual voting in place of widespread failure of card readers were roundly rejected by polling officers who said they were severely warned against from Abuja; yet in Muslim States of Yobe, Sokoto, Kebbi, Borno, Bauchi, Kano, Katsina, Niger, northern Kaduna and Zamfara, manual voting was reported to have been massively used and their votes validly recorded.
Despite the massive turnout of the Southeast voters, safely projected at 5m, over 40% did not vote while the remaining over 20% who voted had their votes lost to Government organized thugs with complicity of security agencies. The activities of the Government thugs majorly ranged from snatching and diversion of ballot materials and result sheets to secret thumb printing and disruption of voting process. Totality of these resulted to the brutal suppression of the independently sighted 5m Southeast voters/votes for PDP, out of the Region’s 8.5m PVC holders; brutally crashed to 1.6m which translates to less than 30% twice the Katsina and Kano’s 2.7m votes for PMB.
This is more so when the Southeast recorded the highest number of voter turnout last Saturday than in any other election in recent years. Average of 250 voters or PVC bearers turned out in each polling center across the Southeast, except in few polling centers dominated by citizens of Northern Muslims who traveled to their regions in large numbers to cast their votes. In several polling centers, as much as 300 or more voters, for each polling center, turned out. At Acha Street Polling Unit 010 in Ogbaru LGA of Anambra State, as much as 500 voters came out but were disrupted and stopped voting half way into the voting by Government hired thugs.
In Ebonyi State, Gov David Umahi, a hardcore Buharist, recently confirmed that “card reader failure marred the Presidential Poll in Ebonyi, shutting out over 300,000 PDP voters”. True to Gov Umahi’s statement, it is widely and credibly suspected, further, that card readers meant for the Southeast and South-south were deliberately designed for mass failure while those meant for Muslim dominated areas of Northern Nigeria and others must have been configured with high impact success during the Poll. This is more so when the contract for the production of INEC card readers was undeniably and compromisingly awarded to the APC Senatorial Candidate (senator-elect) for Niger East in Niger State. The burning of over 4900 card readers meant for Anambra State three weeks ago with suspected linkage of INEC and Anambra State political leadership is also likely to be a major contributor to massive disenfranchisement of many of over 1m Anambra voters who trouped out to vote on 23rd Feb.
Suspicion of tempering of the Presidential Poll results by way of suppression of PDP figures and padding or inflation of those of the APC also went viral in the intelligentsia community and most social clusters in the Southeast. It is widely believed that the Southeast Govs pressured RECs in the Region to do same on account of reported pressure from key appointees of the Federal Government reportedly dispatched to the Region to influence the Poll results for the purpose of getting 25% for PMB or suppressing the PDP figures. In several polling centers in the Region, voting was abruptly discontinued and ended by INEC polling officers even when voting in such polling centers commenced as late as 12.30pm and 1pm or suffered long delays caused by card reader failure.
In Anambra State, reports of snatching and diversion of ballot materials and result sheets as well as disruption of voting and thumb printing of ballot papers were rife. In Ogbaru LGA, thugs hired by the Obiano Government through one of its legislative candidates went on rampage, disrupting voting and snatching ballot papers and result sheets. Thumb printed ballot papers were snatched while others not yet thumb printed got destroyed with voting disrupted. The electoral crime took place on 23rd Feb (voting day) at Acha Street Polling Unit 010, Iyiowa Odekpe. The Polling Unit had recorded the presence of not less than 500 voters before the dastardly act with most of them voting or waiting to vote for PDP. The incident took place around 3pm.
At the Central Primary School, with Polling Unit number 006 and the Ihioma Street Polling Unit number 017, all located in Iyiowa Odekpe, result sheets were snatched before the end of their tabulation and signing. The snatching took place between 7.30pm and 8.30pm on 23rd Feb. Disruption of voting by the Anambra State Government hired thugs was also reported in two polling units located at Ogwuikpere and Odekpe communities all in Ogbaru LGA. Election did not take place despite large turnout of voters in several polling units in the State and one of the places where there was no election is St Joseph Nkpor, with Polling Unit number 020.
In some parts of Idemmili North LGA of Anambra State, including Obosi, result sheets were snatched and made away with by thugs led by an APGA legislative candidate in the area. The Government thugs had struck and had a field day at the Chuke Memorial Primary Obosi Ward Collation Center and made away with polling units results already collated. In Okpoko Ward 6, Ogbaru LGA, an APC federal legislative candidate was caught and arrested thumb printing ballot papers. Reports of snatching, diversion and thumb printing of ballot materials and result sheets and disruption of voting were also reported across the State including Aguata, Oyi, Ihiala LGAs, etc; all designed at ruining the voting strength of the PDP and its Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates.
Institutionalization Of Poll Malpractices & Compromised Security In Muslim Northern Nigeria
In the North, particularly in the States of Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Bauchi, Yobe, Borno, Kano, Katsina and northern Kaduna, sundry electoral malpractices were reportedly the order of the day, with security forces looking the other way. As widely captured by local and international electronic or TV media including CNN, millions of underage voters as young as 8yrs to 12yrs were caught voting with their votes validly recorded by INEC.
Mass thumb printing and multiple voting also reportedly characterized the voting in the areas whereby a voter must have been allowed to vote as much as six times or more in different polling units. Manual voting was most likely wide and indiscriminate in the said areas of the North but was strictly forbidden in the South and Christian areas of the North. Where they were attempted, card readers must have been used to reject them as was the case in Plateau State where whopping 146,555 votes were invalidated “for failure to comply with electoral guidelines”.
While all unused ballot papers are compulsorily returnable in the South, they are rarely so in the North where they are used up or exhausted in massive thumb printing, multiple, underage and alien voting. Findings made recently by Intersociety in Onitsha and Aba from some Nigerien and Chadian traders who come to buy motor, motorcycle and bicycle spare parts, bolts and nuts, tools and allied products, building materials and electronics, etc, showed that they are issued with Nigerian PVCs on account of their Muslim faith and Arabic or Hausa/Fulani languages. Many of them left Onitsha and Aba for Northern Nigerian cities of Maiduguri, Kano and Adamawa and other Muslim Northern States to cast their votes in the just held Presidential Poll.
Totality of these accounts for “magic millions of votes” being brandished or bandied about by INEC from the areas particularly those that just emerged from Kano, Katsina, Bauchi, Kebbi, Jigawa and Zamfara States and Boko Haram devastated Borno and Yobe States. Also all the INEC strict election guidelines including use of card readers and anti underage, multiple and alien voting were totally relaxed in the areas and applied with rigidity and military red eyes in the Southern parts of Nigeria; in addition to acutely skewed voters’ registration and issuance of PVCs.
Some Christian dominated Northern States were also hit by a gale of massive result cancellation projected to have been given or meant for PDP. In Plateau State, for instance, the State’s Collation Officer, Prof Richard Anande, VC, Federal University of Agriculture, Markudi, as published by the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, said that “146,555 votes were cancelled in the just held Presidential Poll “owing to failure to adhere to electoral guidelines”. Instances are too numerous to mention.
People Of Igbo Nation Are Being Pushed To The Point Of Irreversible Provocation
The present central Government of Nigeria is hereby strongly called upon to retrace its abyss bound steps and avoid getting Nigeria sat on a keg of gunpowder or at the brink of detonation of time bomb. The Tinubu and his loyal political goons in the Southwest and the present central Government of Nigeria must stop pushing the People of Igbo Nation too far and let the sub race be. As Rev Father Jean Bertrand Aristide, former President of Haiti (President of Haiti, Feb-Sep 1991, 1994-1996 and 2001-2004) once told the United States to “allow the People of Haiti be and live in poverty with dignity”; the duo of Tinubu and his loyal political goons in the Southwest and the present Government of Nigeria must stop pushing the Igbo People too far to the wall.
By launching coordinated attacks on the sub race for voting according to their conscience in the just held roguish Presidential Poll, they are pursuing and pushing annihilative policy against the People of Igbo Nation. Pushing such policy against a people with 50m strength or more; strategically found in over 80 countries of the world could have far reaching devastating effects, if not nipped in the bud, and before it is too late.
The sub race is yet to recover from Government ordered massacre and mindless disruption of its activities with loss of over N336b in forty months; not to talk of intensification of the policies of political segregation, exclusion and structural violence since June 2015. As if these were not enough, the sub race, again, is being hunted and haunted at extreme apogee just because they freely exercised their constitutionally and legally guaranteed right to freedom to conscientiously choose their leaders democratically and in a democratic process.
Intersociety is not mincing words in this strong worded advice to the duo. We have existed in Nigeria not only as human rights and democracy campaigner, but also as a pacifist and stabilizing force neutralizing various radical ingredients of various victims groups especially the subdued, the quelled, the murdered, the pillaged, the suppressed, the criminally profiled and labeled and the ethnically cleansed since August 2015. These we have been profusely roosting and cuddling from hitting the nadir of extreme reprisal radicalization; capable of turning the motherland into pieces, tears and rubbles or ruination.
Not only that Nigerian leaders and the Tinubu and his loyal political goons must be reminded that nobody or group or government in any part of the modern world has monopoly of violence, but also in the immortal words of the late Music icon, Chief Osita Osadebe, “no man is taller and at the same time shorter than his singular fellow man” and “only a fool tells his fellow man that he can’t do nothing when pushed too far or beyond forgiveness and forgetfulness”.
For: For: Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair
Mobile/WhatsApp Line: +2348174090052
Email: [email protected]
Chinwe Umeche, Esq.
Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program
Email: [email protected]