Following the controversies trailing the outcome of the recently held Local Government elections in Kano, Delta and Ekiti states, Nigerians have been urged not to blame the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for any flaw that may have arisen therefrom.
This position was given in Abuja by the Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group (ISDMG), a coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) involved in electoral monitoring and a number of other electoral related activities.
While addressing journalists, its Executive Director, Dr. Chima Amadi, said blaming INEC for whatever flaws that may have been noticed in those elections would be tantamount to laying the blame on a wrong target since INEC does not conduct local government polls.
Chima, during the press conference was flanked by an activist Ezenwa Nwagwu and a staff of the the ISDMG, Faith Nwadishi.
He absolved the electoral body of having anything to do with the polls now generating controversy even as videos showing under-aged voters in the Kano poll, election rigging and other forms of election rigging activities in Delta and Ekiti states are now trending.
He also described those accusing INEC of the deeds as ignorant of the functions of the electoral body.
Accordingly, he stated that: “The ISDMG wishes to reiterate the following: that there are two recognised Election Management Bodies (EMB) in the country, the INEC and the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC).
“The two bodies are as their names imply ‘independent’ at the levels they operate, INEC at national and SIEC at States.
“INEC does not have the legal mandate to conduct elections into Local Government Councils except in the FCT. That is the responsibility of States Independent Electoral Commissions and the videos in circulation are from recently concluded Local Council elections in Kano, Delta and Ekiti States.
“According to Section 25 of the Electoral Act (2010) as amended, INEC is only mandated to conduct elections into the Senate and House of Representatives; the Office of President and State Governors ; State Houses of Assembly.
“It is also mandated by Section 103 of the same act to conduct elections into the Area Councils of the FCT
“That INEC staff did not in any way supervise the said elections nor act as official observers as INEC does not supervise the SIECs.”
The coalition however, called for the amendment of the Constitution to guarantee financial autonomy to the SIEC to ensure that State governors do not force chairpersons and commissioners of the State electoral body to conduct Local Government Elections at their whims and caprices.
On the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise, “the ISDMG encouraged Nigerians to seize the opportunity presented by the opening up of additional registration centres nationwide and the deployment of additional Direct Data Capture Machines by INEC to ensure that they get registered so that they vote in the forthcoming 2019 general elections”.
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