AN election observer group, the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) has described the recent call for the sack of INEC chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) as “suspicious, mischievous and self-serving”.
The group accused HURIWA of acting a script for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), stressing that “HURIWA has been linked in the past with hatchet jobs and mercenary undertakings.”
The CTA in a statement by its Executive Director, Dr Chima Amadi, noted that every other independent observer of the electoral process in Nigeria is seeing incremental improvement in the management of elections under the current INEC leadership.
Recall that HURIWA predicated its call for the sack of the INEC chairman on what it termed ‘overwhelming evidence of monetary inducements and the failure of officials to stop same.’
But Dr Amadi said, “For a group to make such a categorical statement about the Ekiti election means that it was on the ground and observed the actual conduct of the polls. It will be interesting if HURIWA can show evidence of accreditation by INEC. Otherwise, its assessment falls far short of the standard they expect from the INEC.”
He said further: “unless HURIWA can confirm that it was accredited to observe the Ekiti election by INEC, its views can at best be regarded as hearsay because it was not there, or perhaps, a deliberate misinformation to justify its illegal presence in Ekiti on behalf of vested interests. Whichever it is, the onus is on HURIWA to show proof that its assertions are derived from observations and data genuinely gathered from the field.
“But this is not surprising to discerning watchers of the Ekiti election, especially as it struck a familiar cord and coming from a group with a dubious track record,”
Dr Amadi said it is rather strange that an organisation that lays claim to objectivity could lampoon INEC Chairman over the desperate actions of politicians when every other group involved in the monitoring of the electoral process has commended INEC- especially its Chairman, for his demonstrable commitment to free, fair, credible and peaceful election- and made recommendations to INEC on how it can and should further address the emergent sore point in the electoral process.
According to him, the CTA, like in every election in recent times, had deployed 65 observers to monitor the election and can speak authoritatively on what transpired during last Saturday’s election in Ekiti.
“Clearly, there was a major problem with the Ekiti election and every rational organisation- local and international- that monitored the election identified the problem and correctly placed the blame on the appropriate quarters, not INEC,” he stated
The CTA boss wondered how the misconduct of political parties justify the call for the sack of INEC Chairman, who he said has demonstrated a genuine commitment to restoring electoral integrity and has demonstrated a determination to remain impartial in the management of elections in the country.
He stated further, “Since it is clear that both APC and the PDP were involved in vote-buying, on what grounds then would HURIWA blame INEC or ask PDP- which it has become its mouthpiece- to reject the outcome of the election?
“it is on record that all accredited credible independent observer groups- local and international- were unanimous in their verdict that INEC performed satisfactorily in its preparations, conduct and overall management of the Ekiti election.
“it was widely acknowledged that there was visible, tremendous improvement in INEC’s performance this time in comparison with its performance in previous recent elections, especially in Edo and Anambra.
“For example, it has been acknowledged that as a result of INEC’s innovative measures, ballot box snatching has almost become a thing of the past. And having seen the futility of ballot box snatching, politicians have perfected and resorted to the next stratagem of voter inducement through vote buying. This, by no rational means, can be blamed on INEC. And well-meaning and rational Nigerians who understand this new phenomenon have begun to engage with INEC urging it to take the next step to address the new trend which undermines electoral integrity.”