2023 Polls: RULAAC finds faults with elections, demands investigation
The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has expressed displeasure in the violence that erupted on 25th of February 2023 during the general elections.
RULAAC, which belongs to many elections’ observation networks, said it received and shared information from field observers.
According to the Executive Director of RULAAC, Okechukwu Nwanguma, RULAAC’s observations and findings from the 25th February 2023 presidential and federal legislative elections were shocking and differ significantly from what Nigerians had witnessed in past elections.
He added: “Election has never been as blatantly violent, manipulated and subverted before as this election was. The earliest indication that there was a conspiracy to sabotage the election was the late arrival of election personnel and materials, resulting to late commencement of accreditation and voting in many polling booths.
“In many states, voting did not start until as late as six hours behind the official commencement time, and after some intending voters had left in frustration. In few places election did not hold at all. There was mass disenfranchisement in many places.
“There was voter suppression in places like Lagos, Rivers State, Imo State, Bayelsa, others, through intimidation, threats and violent attacks on voters and electoral officials, in many cases, leading to disruption of the voting process.
“We were shocked to see Nigerians intimidating and threatening fellow Nigerians and attempting to force them to vote in a particular direction. Several cases were reported in Lagos.
“Thugs acting on behalf of a particular political party were captured in video beating up voters for not voting according to their dictates; disrupting the voting process, carting away ballot boxes, destroying ballot papers, abducting electoral officials and falsifying election results.”
Nwanguma said that in states such as Lagos, Edo, Imo, Anambra, Bayelsa, among others, electoral bandits shot into the crowd of voters, killing, and injuring many.
“In none of the cases we witnessed or received information about did security agents intervene to stop the violence or arrest the violators. In some cases, security agents were part of the violence. There is a surfeit of video evidence. Many daredevil and brazen acts of violence and violation of the Electoral Act were captured in video including situations in many polling booths where some Presiding Officers refused to upload results despite demands by voters who refused to go away but determined to stay back late into the night to protect their votes,” said Nwanguma.
He also noted that many electoral officials were caught in brazen and shameless acts of election rigging.
He also mentioned, “But more reassuringly, we saw the resilience and determination of Nigerians – youths, women, people living with disabilities, and indeed, millions of Nigerians who are fed up with a failed system, desirous of change, and determined to contribute to bringing about that change through their votes. But desperate and demonic politicians with their misguided agents took criminal and subversive steps to scuttle and undermine the aspirations of Nigerians.”
The human rights activist stressed that there was the need to investigate why police officers stood by and did nothing while these crimes were being committed. “Although police officers on election duty at polling units are not permitted to carry arms, but they are required to call for armed patrol teams to intervene in situations of violence or acts capable of disrupting elections as were widely witnessed,” said Nwanguma.
He also demanded, “INEC must ensure that all electoral officials involved in electoral malpractices are brought to account in accordance with the Electoral Act. INEC must ensure it does not accept or declare falsified results that are inconsistent with the actual results counted and declared at the polling units in the presence of all political party agents.”BEWARE All Rights Reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without prior express written permission from Juliana Francis