The Acting President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Amechi Asugwuni, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure fairness in the rerun of governorship elections in some states on March 23, 2019, while also blaming the commission for some of the malpractices noticed in the last elections.
In a statement signed by Asugwuni, the NLC noted there were security issues during the elections, calling on the military authority to investigate alleged unprofessional practices by some of its men in some states. The NLC also castigated some politicians for their roles in manipulating the electoral process in some states.
The statement said, “While INEC should be commended for insisting on the use of card readers for elections in every part of the country and for issuing a policy statement that no election result obtained through duress would be validated by issuance of certificate of return, it is clear that these pronouncements hardly served as sufficient deterrence to those bent on foisting the rule of the jungle on our election process.
“INEC shares some responsibilities in the shortcomings witnessed during the last general elections. Despite the insistence by INEC on the use of card readers for the election, the purported failure of the card readers to read the finger prints of the electorate in many polling units resulted to widespread use of manual accreditation which many politicians took advantage of to deploy hired hands to vote with multiple Permanent Voter Cards even in the absence of the authentic owners of the PVCs.
“While the deployment of the military was helpful in preventing skirmishes from different local hotspots from degenerating into society-wide brigandage, the conduct of some soldiers deployed in some parts of the country to maintain public order left a lot to be desired. Some military personnel went outside their duty call to invade polling units and collation centres and intimidate election officials. The deployment of military personnel to harass political rivals was a new low in our electoral history and presents a serious setback to recent electoral reform gains.”
The NLC also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to show commitment to implementing aspects of Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Report to ensure INEC independence, noting that the report addressed some of the challenges noticed during the general elections.
“We also demand that INEC must ensure free, fair, and credible elections in some states where the process was declared inconclusive and polls rescheduled for March 23, 2019. In the spirit of the peace accord signed by the major political parties prior to the 2019 general elections, we urge all persons aggrieved by the conduct of the elections to refrain from self-help. Those with genuine grievances should resort to the legal process for the redress of all wrongs,” the statement added.