By Dirisu Yakubu, ABUJA
Foremost rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, yesterday hinted that the ongoing online registration of voters by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, may have been compromised, owing to what it called, “the suspicious figures being bandied by the officials as the statistical entries of the completed registrants so far.”
In a statement issued by its Executive Director, Emmanuel Onwubiko, the group called on the chairman of the commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu to investigate possible shady practices in order to restore the confidence of Nigerians in the exercise.
“We appeal to the ebullient and resourceful Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu to order the immediate investigation into these very serious suspected breaches.
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“HURIWA acknowledges the fact that INEC’s management supports the independence of INEC by the show of courage and patriotism they have shown so far in stating the fact that the institution is capable of transmitting the results of elections electronically contrary to the lies told by the National Assembly and the National Communications Commission, NCC that intend to erode the constitutional independence of INEC. So, it is expected that the Chairman will guide against any technological breaches that may undermine the integrity of the voters’ registration process, the statement read in part.
Citing the case of Osun State, HURIWA called for a holistic investigation, stressing that the figures recently released by the commission “as the updated figures of eligible voters who have registered in the ongoing Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) being conducted online certainly appears twisted and doctored to favour certain political power centres across the country.”
Quoting INEC, HURIWA said a breakdown of the statistics uploaded on the commission’s website recently gave Osun state “67,773 out of the total figure of 203, 497 eligible voters who have registered within a week of the start of the online phase of the Continuous Voters Registration at the beginning of July 2021.”
It noted that according to data released by INEC, Osun State is trailed by another southwest state, Lagos which has 30,338 followed by Ogun State with 8,886.
The rights group, which faulted this demography of the released updated figures of online registered potential, has therefore called for immediate, transparent and accountable forensic investigation of the process because it is inconceivable that Osun has these figures allotted to it “but Anambra state with a highly anticipated governorship election that is only a few weeks away is not even mentioned in this edited and heavily doctored statistics of voters already enlisted by way of the ongoing online registration.”
The statement continued: “HURIWA believes that it appears that some political heavyweight has infiltrated the ongoing voter registration process to the extent that there is a systematic manipulation of the process of online pre-registration of voters, hence the emerging statistics. Otherwise, it beats the imagination that Osun state recorded such a hyperbolic figure compared to other states where off-season governorship elections are expected to hold.
“Although a section of the media quoted sources at INEC as attributing the Osun high figures to the forthcoming 2022 governorship election in the state, we in HURIWA see this half-baked justification as puerile and distasteful because the reason advanced falls flat on its face when it is considered that Ekiti state, which is also expected to conduct governorship election next year, has a meagre 2,734 as prospective voters.
“Also, Anambra state with a heated gubernatorial poll in another three months is nowhere near the Osun state magic figures. Ogun State is trailing Lagos with 8,886, eligible voters who have taken advantage of the online platform for registration. The North-West State of Kano which had the largest number of Voters in the 2019 general elections has recorded 2, 988 so far.”
The group further called on INEC to be guided by the principle of non-partisanship in the conduct of the sensitive exercise, especially with the 2023 general elections less than two years away.