A coalition of democracy and social justice, the International College of Democracy and Human Rights Scholars, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of the destruction of 15.4million out of 27.6million new voters’ registrations between July 2021 and July 2022.
The group was recently formed by experts operating in Nigeria and beyond its shores involving 41 Professors, 20 Doctorate Degree Holders, 30 Lawyers, 19 Indigenous Northern Religious Leaders, 14 Eastern Nigerian Democracy and Human Rights CSO Leaders, Swiss and American Rights Campaigners and other respected democracy and social justice advocates or campaigners.
In a statement by the board Chairman of Intersociety, Emeka Umeagbalasi, on behalf of other rights groups, said it was the fallout of critical examination by the college of the INEC’s released official statistics relating to the 31st July, 2022 abrupt termination of the CVR ahead of the country’s 2023 General Election especial the presidential segment.
According to him, “the 15.4million new voters’ registrations destroyed by INEC is more than the total winning votes (15,191,847 votes) of the country’s Presidential Election of February 2019 declared by the commission and credited to the Presidency of Buhari/Osibanjo.
“The alarming discovery by the college was contained in a fresh letter sent to Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu through National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Barrister Festus Okoye.
“The letter was duly communicated yesterday, 10th August, 2022 through their official emails and WhatsApp. A physical copy has also been delivered to the Office of the INEC chairman in Abuja. The letter was a follow-up to the first letter by the college written to the commission on 14th June 2022, a period of 27 days today.
“It must be recalled that the college had in its letter of 14th July, 2022 investigated and identified 30 disenfranchisement and election rigging plots ahead of the 2023 General Election, particularly the President segment and called on the Independent National Electoral commission to publicly speak in admission to or against the 30 rigging plots with outlined plan of action to tackle them headlong.
“Regrettably, the commission neither reached out nor publicly spoke or responded to date. The commission also chose not to respond to any of the issues raised including our 16-point demands; thereby taking responsibility for hatching the 30 poll rigging plots. By the above, therefore, no explanations by the commission concerning the letter will be entertained or accepted by the college.
“The college carefully studied INEC’s officially released statistics including its updates on CVR, starting from 28th June or end of June 2021 when the CRV commenced and 31st July 2022 when it was abruptly terminated and found that INEC deliberately, mindlessly, hatefully and discriminatorily engaged in massive disenfranchisement of tens of millions of enthusiastic Nigerians that trouped to INEC registration centres so as to be registered ahead of the 2023 Presidential Election.
“The destruction was also found to have been perpetrated on the grounds of ethnicity and religion. It was further discovered that the destroyed figure (15.4million new voters’ registrations) did not include those that logged into INEC’s online voters’ registration portal but could not continue or conclude their registrations.
“To buttress the above, it was observed, for instance, that between January 2022 and 2nd June 2022, a total of 19.1million applicants were received by the commission, out of which only 6.8million were validated as ‘successfully registered voters. INEC had, for no just reason, shut down its online voters’ registration portal on 31st May 2022 and never opened it till 31st July 2022 when it abruptly terminated the CVR exercise.
“Apart from several INEC top-shots descending so low to hatefully and discriminatorily mock the affected citizens, saying they: “suddenly wake up at their beck and call to be registered”, the commission was maliciously found to have hidden under the cloak of ‘incomplete registration’, ‘multiple registrations’ and ‘timed-out biometric capturing’ as reasons for the massive disenfranchisement.
“Consequently, INEC’s hurried termination of the CVR on 31st July 2022 which is seven months before the February and March 2023 General Election, contrary to the statutorily provided 90 days or November 25, 2022, is utterly suspicious and strongly condemned. It is also a confirmation that the commission is partisan and holding brief for a particular political party and its candidate and bent on massively disenfranchising tens of millions of citizens of voting age including 7million-11million that successfully did their online pre-registration and voters’ registration by 90percent completion, remaining only physical biometric capturing.
“Therefore, what the sum total of the above means is that while tens of millions of Nigerian citizens of voting age worked hard under the rain and the sun and got registered by INEC, the commission unscrupulously engaged in the destruction of their registrations, to the tune of 15.4million and as if that was not enough, the commission has further threatened to disenfranchise millions more between August and November 2022 repetitively using ‘elimination of multiple registrants’ as a deceitful cover”, Umeagbalasi alleged.
Substance Abuse Becoming Thing Of Concern -Odu
Rivers State Deputy Governor, Prof. Ngozi Nma Odu, has lauded the important role pharmacists play in the wellbeing of the society.
Odu gave this commendation while playing host to members of Association of Lady Pharmacists of Nigeria, Rivers State Branch at the Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The deputy governor said while others are sleeping, pharmacists work hard “to ensure we all live in a better society, especially when you talk about the dangers of substance abuse.”
Odu stressed that, “It is really becoming a thing of great concern because of the level of children getting involved in this thing. It is even coming down to primary schools which now increases the burden of what you are doing, so we appreciate you for what you are doing for the society which we all are living in.”
The deputy governor extolled the lady pharmacists for the scholarship scheme they were sponsoring, noting that it was “amazing because when you change the narrative of somebody’s life, you become what they call a destiny helper.”
The deputy governor added, “So, for me, it is something I would encourage. Even the Bible says when you do it for them you have done unto God. It is a thing we get a lot of blessings out off, you may not see it now but some day it will definitely come.”
She expressed gratitude to them for their support for the Fubara-led administration which according to her has continued to spur them into action.
“Let me thank you for upholding the governor and myself in prayers, because without prayers we won’t be here, many people have prayed and God has heard, please do not stop, even for good governance, we need God to grant us the wisdom and knowledge of what to do”, she said.
In her remarks, Chairman of the Rivers State Branch of Association of Lady Pharmacists of Nigeria, Ebelechukwu Odom, said they were at the Government House to identify with the Governor Fubara-led administration in the ongoing restructuring of the state, and pledged their allegiance and unflinching support to the administration.
She assured that they would utilize the competences of Lady Pharmacists in Rivers State and synergize with partners for improvement in health, education, research development and socio-economic wellbeing of humanity through relevant and appropriate interventions, projects and programmes.
RSG Denies Rumours Of Cholera Outbreak In Soku
The Rivers State Government says it is not aware of any cholera outbreak in Soku community in the Akuku Toru Local Government Area of the State.
This was contained in a statement made available to newsmen in Port Harcourt by the State Ministry of Health.
According to the statement signed by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Adaeze Chidinma Oreh, the clarification was necessary following numerous enquiries from the media over a purported outbreak of cholera in Soku community.
The statement read in part, “The Rivers State Ministry of Health has received numerous enquiries from the Press regarding an alleged outbreak of cholera in Soku community in Akuku Toru Local Government Area.
“Public health teams dispatched to investigate these alleged cases and deaths have so far received no confirmation of such.”
While describing cholera as a waterborne infectious disease, the commissioner said that the disease is notifiable, warranting escalating reports from disease surveillance and notification officers at the community level.
The statement clarified that the ongoing medical outreach in Soku community is in no way related to any outbreak of cholera.
“Outreaches have always been a way of getting accessible health care to underserved and vulnerable population, however, all such outreach activities must be conducted with approval from and in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health and as such no entity should be conducting outreaches outside the coordination of the ministry”, it warned.
The ministry further said that all infectious diseases of this nature are reported, managed and escalated by the Rivers State Ministry of Health.
Dr. Oreh said the statement should serve as a strong warning to anyone conducting or planning health activities without due recourse to the Rivers State Ministry of Health.
She added that any such activities found to be carried out without the knowledge and clearance of the State Ministry of Health will be fully investigated and dealt with in order to ensure the protection of the lives of the people.
“Therefore, the general public and members of the Press are advised to disregard the rumours making the round on an ongoing outbreak of cholera and the death of some citizens of Soku community in Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State as it is presently unfounded, misguided and capable of causing panic amongst citizens and residents.
“The general public is thus urged to remain calm and rest assured that the Rivers State Ministry of Health will continue to be a veritable source of public health information in the state”, the statement concluded.
Bill On State Police Scales Second Reading
The House of Representatives, yesterday, passed for second reading a bill to provide for the establishment of state police in the country.
Sponsored by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Benjamin Kalu and 14 others, the bill seeks to alter the relevant Sections of the 1999 Constitution to pave the way for states to establish their own policing outfits.
As lawmakers took turns to contribute to the debate on the floor of the House during yesterday’s plenary, Kalu who stood in for the Speaker, Abbas Tajudeen, urged members to look beyond political ambitions and think about the safety of Nigerians and Nigeria.
Also speaking, Babajimi Benson (APC, Lagos) said, “It is the job of the police to maintain law and order. We have a population of over 200m people but we have a police strength that is less than 400,000. State Police should be created to address the internal security challenges of Nigeria.”
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