THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has responded adequately and reassuringly to the “expose” by the Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, which, in a media briefing a fortnight ago, alleged that the Commission, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, planned to rig the 2023 elections through voter register padding with fake names and the manipulation of the judiciary.
While alerting the public to the alleged plot, CUPP spokesman, Ikenga Ugochinyere, also brandished a surreptitious legal action in a court in Imo State seeking to invalidate the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, for the accreditation of voters in the 2023 elections.
The CUPP also alleged that INEC had conspired with politicians to jerk up the number of registrants in Uzodimma’s Omuma Ward from 6,500 (2014) to 46,000 in the just concluded registration exercise. The Imo State Government has since called for Ugochinyere’s arrest, while restating its innocence and dismissing the allegations.
In its response, INEC’s spokesman, Festus Okoye, made it clear that the Commission is still subjecting the recently concluded voter registration exercise to a thorough cleaning with its Automated Biometric Identification System, ABIS, which matches every registration with the records on the BVAS. Any registration that does not match what is contained in the BVAS is automatically removed. It is only when the new register has been cleaned up that it will be added to the official INEC register of voters for the 2023 elections.
The implication of all these is that we must maintain total vigilance to ensure that the 2023 general elections are free, fair and credible. Politicians, especially the very desperate among them, will always do their utmost to foul the rules and impose themselves on the people by all means. We must remain one step ahead of them.
We call on INEC to carry its many stakeholders and allies, especially the advocacy groups, media and international partners, along in every aspect of preparations towards 2023. It should allow public scrutiny of the approved register of voters when it is through with the cleaning exercise. That way, the public will be reassured that compromised INEC staff are not allowed to undermine the process.
We also urge INEC to keep an eagle’s eye on its staff. As the elections approach, they will become “beautiful brides” to powerful, corrupt, failed and unpopular politicians who will attempt to buy them over. Internal self-policing cannot be toyed with.
Since politicians have found ways of using the judiciary to get into power after being rejected by the people, we must follow the case in court against the BVAS.
We must defeat all attempts to derail the use of technology to conduct the 2023 elections.