● Nigerians interested in seeing how INEC has improved on lessons learnt from the 2023 general elections
The Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, on Thursday challenged the Federal Government to explain why a fresh N18 billion was allocated to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for the conduct of the off-cycle elections in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa State.
Chairman, Transition Monitoring Group, TMG,
Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, told newsmen at a news conference on that the supplementary budget for the off-cycle elections was suspicious as it could be intended for vote buying.
According to Rafsanjani, “TMG also noted the recent supplementary budget by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) which has also scaled second reading at parliament.
“The allocation of a whooping ₦18 billion for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to facilitate the conduct of Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi elections is completely shocking as INEC had assured that the funds for the off-cycle elections were parts of funds received ahead of the general election.
“To this end, the Commission had since gone ahead to perfect preparations towards the election without any complaints about funding. What part of the election is this supplementary budget of N18 billion looking to cover?
“Nigerians perceive this allocation as very suspicious and fear that it could be allocations to perpetrate malpractices.
“Hence, the federal government must explain this huge sum to Nigerians and why it is budgeting again for what has already been budgeted.”
The TMG has also described as unfortunate the recent ruling of the Supreme Court on the use of technology in the conduct of elections in the country.
Rafsanjani said Supreme Court ruling on the presidential election had become another judicial blow on the use of technology to reform the electoral process in Nigeria.
“The ruling on the use of IReV has empowered manual collation of results which creates room for falsification of results and other forms of malpractices.
“Even as INEC has given the reassurances on the deployment of IReV for the off-cycle elections, the Supreme Court judgement does not give confidence on technology as the court should have looked at protecting the greater election credibility in Nigeria.
“Nevertheless, TMG implores INEC to look back at the credibility of the off-cycle elections in Ekiti and Osun states as a basis for improvement ahead of the November 11 election.
“The Commission should effectively deploy technology to enhance credibility.”
The TMG boss pointed out that Nigerians were keenly interested in these forthcoming elections to see how INEC has improved on lessons learnt from the 2023 general election or if the elections are simply going to take a cue from the February and March elections.
“It is a break or make dice for INEC in the eyes of the public. Hence, Nigerians are hoping for a transparent election where the courts will no longer be the determinants of election results in Nigeria.
“It is in line with this belief that TMG shares in the view of Femi Falana (SAN) that election results should be decided by the election management body and not the judiciary.
Judicial Robbery and INEC Connivance in Kano State
“The inconsistencies associated with election tribunal rulings have created injustice in the electoral process and the Kano state case is a good example.
“After INEC had tabulated votes cast during the election and declared a winner as witnessed by the voting public, political party agents and security agencies, how then did the election tribunal suddenly find unsigned ballot papers totaling 165,663 votes to sack the declared winner?
“The tribunal in creating so much distrust amongst the populace chose to deliver its judgement over the Zoom virtual platform.
“Additionally, INEC through its head of legal department in Kano declared that the Commission had no grounds to appeal the judgment which was against its own process until it was forced to make a U-turn through public pressure.
“This kind of situation erodes citizens’ trust in the electoral and judicial processes in Nigeria as many people have shared the perception that INEC are in connivance with the judiciary to appease the interests of a few people in power.”