Tola Akinmutimi, Abuja
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) on Saturday called on the National Assembly to probe the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the postponement of the national elections.
The group, which expressed its concern over the sudden postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections by the electoral body just few hours before commencement, stated that the investigations would clear the Commission of public doubt that its decision was not informed by desperate desires of unjust individuals or groups who wanted to assume or sustain power by all illegitimate means.
The group’s Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, expressed its disappointment over the reported poor preparatory processes by the electoral body that disproportionately hampered adequate deployment of electoral materials to many parts of the country thereby necessitating the shifting of the elections dates.
Musa noted that such abrupt decision informed by deliberate abuse of independent power may discredit subsequent position by the Commission as an “Independent Body” before national and international observers.
According to him, CISLAC is not unaware of systemic conflict of interests and questionable procurement process imbibed by the various positions in the Commission all of which created tendency for mutual sabotage among the three levels of appointees, namely the National Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioners and appointed relatives to the Directors in various Departments.
He stated: “We are concerned by the wastages and losses the postponement would have caused the country, civil society and international community that have committed whopping financial and human resources to deployment and observation missions to ensure free, fair and credible elections that will be acceptable to all.
“Given large presence of youth deployment for anchoring electoral processes and international electoral observation missions across the country, such abrupt postponement is a huge setback to our nation’s democracy which may breed electoral apathy and distrust at all levels.
“With the new electoral dates, giving the space of a week extension, we are as well worried for the safety and integrity and security of elections materials which have been disseminated across the country”, Musa added.
The group demanded adequate security for both materials and human resources deployed by the Commission so far to the field to avert susceptibility to violations and attacks by unpatriotic individuals or groups across the country.
This is even as it called on the electoral body to tender unreserved apologies to Nigerian and international observers, who had committed their time, presence and financial resources to monitor the electoral process with assurance that elections would hold as earlier scheduled.
The CISLAC also demanded immediate assurances by the Commission that the new electoral date—February 23rd is certain, and the distributed sensitive materials will be kept under appropriate supervision and security till the new date.
It charged other civil society groups, media, national and international observation missions to sustain surveillance on the electoral process to promote free, fair and credible elections that will be acceptable to all.