By Dirisu Yakubu
A foremost civil society organization, the Human and Environmental Developmental Agenda, HEDA, has expressed concern over the ability of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct free, transparent and credible elections in 2023, citing what it called recent twists and turns in the polity.
HEDA stated this Monday in a statement signed by its chairman, Olarenwaju Suraju.
According to the group, “INEC’s inconsistency regarding the issuance of Certified True Copies, CTC, of the Biometric Voter Accreditation System, BVAS deployed in Osun State gubernatorial election to APC candidate and Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, may mar the 2023 general elections.”
Recall that in July 18, 2022, two days after a governorship election was conducted in Osun State, the APC candidate and Governor Adegboyega Oyetola reportedly applied for the Certified True Copies, CTC, of the BVAS Report for the election.
INEC after the statutory payments were made on July 29, 2022, reportedly issued the CTC of the BVAS Report to APC and Oyetola.
The statement read: “APC and Oyetola served INEC their petition challenging results in 749 polling units on the account of suspected over-voting they believed took place in those polling units.
“INEC is alleged to, having discovered the palpable inconsistencies between figures recorded as accredited votes on the EC8A (result sheet) and the BVAS report, have tampered with the contents of the original BVAS report to protect the mandate awarded to Ademola Adeleke and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, at the expense of a credible election, by issuing a fresh CTC to the defendants, claiming the CTC earlier issued to APC and Oyetola was incomplete and unsynchronised.”
Suraju noted that considering that the Ekiti and Osun elections where conducted and results declared on the basis of BVAS, it was impossible to declared a winner from an unsynchronized BVAS.
Suraju affirmed that, “As an organisation committed to fight against corruption, financial and electoral, HEDA is concerned about this development. We observed the Osun election and engaged the process in collaboration with anti- corruption agencies to campaign against vote buying before and during that election.
“Noting this particular serious inconsistency and those associated with the senatorial tickets bids of the current Senate President in Yobe and Former Governor Godswill Akpabio in Akwa Ibom, INEC is charged to do better and remain consistent for a credible, free, fair and popular election in 2023.”
The anti- corruption activist charged anti -corruption agencies to conscientiously follow up on INEC, in the build up to the 2023 elections, for the 2023 general elections to be far better than every previous elections conducted in the past.