The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has berated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for shifting the Governorship and National Assembly elections by one week.
PANDEF, in a statement issued in Port Harcourt by it’s National Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson, said the manner in which INEC postponed the election less than 12:hours after a High Court judgement, raised further doubts about the commission’s sincerity and honesty of purpose in the electoral process.
The statement reads in part: “Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, says the manner in which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections earlier scheduled for today, March 11, soon after securing the court’s approval, last Wednesday, to reconfigure its Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) devices, is rather Machiavellian and raises further doubts about the commission’s sincerity and honesty of purpose in the electoral process.
“PANDEF notes that it was less than 72 hours to the scheduled Governorship and State Assembly elections before the Court of Appeal, Abuja, granted INEC the relieve they sought, on the grounds that if not given they won’t be able to hold the elections and they gave the impression the elections would hold as was scheduled, but after the judgment, they suddenly shifted the elections; this has created room for more misgiving.
“PANDEF recalls that various reputable organizations, both local and international, had scored the performance of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the February 25, 2023 Presidential and National Assembly election as “far below expectations.
“PANDEF cites that reports of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) defects, INEC’s failure to promptly upload results to its Portal from the various polling units across the country, with excuses of technical glitches, undermined the outcome of the electoral process.
“PANDEF insists that these occurrences are totally unacceptable, particularly, given the repeated assurances of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Independent National Electoral Commission of free, fair and credible elections; though the same election has resulted in a national assembly that somewhat reflects the new political outlook of the country.
“Accordingly, with the huge amount of tax payers’ money that was disposed to the process, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, should be personally held responsible for the observed lapses and inconsistencies.
“PANDEF further notes that Forum’s preferred candidate in the presidential election, His Excellency, Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) has also expressed dissatisfaction with the results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and is already in court, we shall, therefore, withhold further comments on the subject matter, until a final decision is made by the courts.
“Meanwhile, PANDEF urges all who are dissatisfied with the outcome of the February 25 election to seek judicial redress and not take laws into their hands, in order not to exacerbate tension in the country. PANDEF hopes that the courts would dispense justice without fear or favour. Nigeria is greater than any individual or group.
“Finally, it is pertinent to demand that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should reassure Nigerians of its readiness to ensure that the lapses and inconsistencies observed during the February 25 election will not reoccur in the Governorship and State Assembly elections, now shifted to Saturday, March 18, 2023.”