A group, Forum for the Advancement of Development and Democracy, (FADD), has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) to urgently investigate the circumstances that led to politicians holding results sheets before the commencement of voting in Kogi State Governorship election held on Saturday.
Addressing a press conference in Lokoja on Sunday, the Legal officer of FAAD, Oruma Ayuba Musa Esq, charged INEC to condemn in strong terms the pre-filling of result sheets and start a transparent process that gives confidence that the electoral body is serious against electoral offenders.
“The off-circle elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi, the first since the Supreme Court affirmed President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has generated a lot of interest and thrown up new issues on the pre-filling of results sheets ahead of voting.
“This is the new thing. The pre-filling of election results sheets is a new thing in Nigeria, introduced first in Kogi State. This new development has woken us up from slumber” he stated.
Musa, who commended INEC under the leadership of Prof. Yakub Mahmood and the Kogi State Resident Electoral Commissioner, (REC) Professor Gabriel Longpet for their fairness in ensuring a transparent electioneering process, observed that the Kogi REC refused to allow external intervention in its affairs and disallowed some compromised Electoral Officers free environment to do their usual four-yearly cycle of business to the highest bidder.
Musa said, “FADD monitored the commencement of distribution of polling materials and noted that the vigilance of the general public has helped to improve the performance of the election in the state and put the Electoral Officers and other Staff of INEC on their toes, with some still failing in their responsibilities to due process and the law probably due to threat to life or pecuniary interest.
“FADD is pleased to note that INEC has reacted to the report of an allegation of pre-filling of result sheet with a clear indication that INEC rules and processes seem to have been flouted in Okene, Adavi, Okehi, Ajaokuta and Ogori/ Magongo LGAs.
“We have discovered that in many polling units in these local Government Areas where BVAS was used for accreditation, the number of alleged voters was in excess of the number of people who were said to have presented for accreditation.
” INEC rule and the Electoral Act are clear on this, particularly Section 51(2). It is, therefore, shocking that trained INEC staff can allow this to appear on the IREV portal without flagging it. Further investigation should unravel this or otherwise.
“More worrisome is the comment on the IREV portal that the attention of the public has been drawn to the effect that “the figure is not the final figure and might be changed after synchronization.” This comment was not made for either the Kogi West or Central Senatorial district. Why such an inconsistency? INEC has an explanation to make here.
While noting that Section 51(2) is the remedy for overvoting, Musa admonished INEC to condemn in strong terms the pre-filling of result sheets and start a transparent process that gives confidence that the electoral body is serious against electoral offenders.
“INEC advertised that its staff were going to be Returning Officers in the Local Government Area. INEC should audit if this improves the status quo given what has happened in Okene, Adavi, Okehi, Ogori Magongo and Ajaokuta.
INEC should investigate how the original INEC result sheets got into the hands of politicians and also determine if fake result sheets were also in circulation or the same persons who print for INEC were hired by Kogi politicians to print for them,” Musa added.
Also speaking, the data officer of FAAD Ibrahim Collins while calling for the cancellation of election results in Kogi Central for alleged pre-filling of result sheets said, “It is repugnant to natural justice when someone is said to have given birth when she was never pregnant”.