Nigeria: Uphold Popular Will of Nigerians, Southern, Middle Belt Leaders Tell INEC

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) has expressed concern over the non-transmission of the results of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Portal, after the collation of the results at the various polling units across the country.

SMBLF expressed this concern in a statement signed by its leaders, Messrs Edwin Clark, (Pan Niger Delta Forum), Chief Ayo Adebanjo (Afenifere), Dr. Pogu Bitrus (Middle Belt Forum) and Okey Emuchay (Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide) and made available to our correspondent in Abuja yesterday.

They lamented that President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to Nigerians and the international community of holding free, fair and credible elections might have been undermined by the actions and inactions of the INEC.

Part of the statement read: “Suffice to say that INEC failed to adhere to critical provisions of the amended Electoral Act, with several reports of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) challenges, the delay in upholding the results and excuses of server hutches.

“There were also cases of outright voter intimidation in parts of the country, particularly, in Lagos, where people were allegedly prevented from voting, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been silent on the occurrences.

“Most worrisome are the suggestions that the delay in uploading results to the INEC Portal was deliberate; to provide certain persons opportunities to alter the election results, with Lagos state and Delta state repeatedly cited.

“These situations are unacceptable and should not be allowed. We warn INEC not to tamper with the results; the will of Nigerians as expressed through the votes cast yesterday, across the country, must be upheld. Let the choice of the people stand, in the interest of peace and stability.

“There were high hopes that INEC would do a good job, unfortunately, it appears that the electoral body was not prepared to conduct credible elections.

“SMBLF cautions the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu not to pour scorn on his hard earned reputation, due to pressure from desperate politicians. Nigeria is greater than any individual or group.”

Meanwhile, the National Coalition for Peace and Unity (NCPU) has warned political parties and supporters against utterances capable to distabilising the nation.

The warning came on the heel of some utterances from politicians, who threatened that the EndSARS will be a child’s play if the election doesn’t go their way.

The coalition also warned that the poor masses are mostly the victims of crisis and such, politicians should be mindful of statements capable of destroying a peaceful setting.

The Coalition, in a statement by its Protem Secretary General, Cairo Ojougboh, cautioned the public on the way they believe in the social media, adding that information from that channels should not be taken whole heartedly.

It said that INEC remained the only body constitutionally empowered to announce election results, warning that the public should know which report they should believe.

“While we are cautioning the public to be watchful and filter the reports out there before drawing conclusion, it is also very important to note that false reports have a way of causing serious crisis,” the coalition said.

The group urged the public to be careful with what they say and try to accommodate other people’s opinion, because sentiments are high at the moment.

Similarly, the South West Security Group under the aegis of South West Security Think Tank Forum has called for calm and enjoins all citizens to eschew violence as the election results are being released.

The Forum called on all aggrieved youths in particular that elections are won and lost based on the aggregate of votes from all over the country and not in a few places where they have strong showing.

It also called on aggrieved people to wait until the final result is announced and act within the dictate of the Constitution by taking legal and legitimate steps to seek redress and not resort to violence or anarchy.

“The Forum cautioned that while some youths or citizens may have valid concerns to express, there are criminals and agents of destruction always waiting for such opportunity to loot and commit arson which will completely jeopardise the genuine concerns of citizens,” the statement added.


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