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Ekiti: Rights Group Seeks Probe Of INEC Ballot Papers Before Osun Election

The Nigerian Human Rights Community, (NHRC) has called for a public inquiry on the type of ballot papers used for the Ekiti election so as to ascertain or disprove claims that the ballots were photochromic papers programmed to skew victory to the side of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP). The rights group said this was necessary before the August 09 election in Osun State.

“We call for a public inquiry on the nature of ballot papers used. The Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) needs to regain dwindling confidence arising from reports that the ballot papers were programmed to favour the PDP. This needs to be done before the next gubernatorial election in Osun State. We call on Nigerians to push for a public inquiry so as to regain public confidence,” the NHRC preliminary report signed by Mr Ariyo Olu Bolade stated.

The rights group also raised crucial issues on the Ekiti June 21 gubernatorial election. The rights group which affiliate members monitored the election in its preliminary report released on the morning of Friday, 27th June, 2014, said though Ekiti people have accepted the result in good faith, several flaws classified the election processes below best global practices.

The group said the most prominent slogan of the PDP candidate, now Gov-elect during the election was “I shall be declared on the night of June 21. Nothing can stop us. We shall defeat APC in all the local governments” adding that this has curiously come to pass.

According to the NHRC, in its report released on Friday, 27th June, 2014, the run-up to the election was characterized by the imposition of a state of siege, terror and gross violations of the right to movement.

“The population of security personnel deployed to Ekiti during the election was unnecessary. There was a show of force across the streets and institutionalized gangsterism by security officials. Soldiers who should be involved only in war and external aggression took over the streets, towns and villages under-scoring the directive of the Vice President Namadi Sambo who had equated the Ekiti election with war,” the report stated. The group said that the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) top officials were reported to have been sighted in Akure with ballot papers while 11 people were arrested at Afao-Ekiti in a resort owned by Mr Dipo Anisulowo, the Director of Campaign of the PDP candidate, Mr Ayodele Fayose. These critical reports on the heels of the election are yet to be investigated.

NHRC stated that movement of locals was restricted, business activities were halted. “These activities show clearly the over reliance on force as a means of protecting the electoral process and an unusual way to stem perceived uprising at the expense of intelligence gathering even if an uprising had been foreseen.”

The group stated “this election marks a significant moral low. People cast their votes under siege. Leaders of opposition were arrested and detained. People were killed in the heat of the campaign,” the group said.

According to NHRC, voters were induced with cash, goodies and the outcome of the election partly reflect the moral decay of the society. It was a corrupt process where nepotism, fraud and graft became the most important determinant of a people’s choice. More than 40 percent of the registered voters did not come out to vote while those who voted had little idea of what the economic programmes of the candidate that won were.

“For the records, many of the political parties, especially that of the PDP, Mr Ayo Fayose campaigned without concrete programme of socio-economic development, no defined programme on health, environment and no economic blue print. Some of the political parties were fully backed by a powerful Federal might and the candidate of the PDP and the party’s leaders enjoyed conscious protection by armed State Security agents. If anything, this is a pre 20th century standard,” the report said.

The rights coalition said that the ballot papers used for the election were customized and that it was the first time such ballot papers were being used by the Independent National Electroal Commission, (INEC). There is the need to probe widespread reports that the ballot papers were pre-programmed and skewed to favor the PDP. The coalition said that voters in rural communities where the electorate knows each other and recognize the party divide in their homestead were shocked against their expectations after the results were announced in a way against their predictable voting patterns.

On future elections, the NHRC urged the Federal Government to make transparent and involve political stakeholders in the contracting of sensitive electoral materials saying that this has raised serious doubts on the quality and character of the ballot papers used fuelling widespread speculations that the ballot papers were cloned ab initio to ensure the victory of the PDP. The fact that PDP leaders boasted and even taunted the figures later released, weeks before the election further confirmed the speculations that the election was programmed to criminalize the voting population.

NHRC urged the opposition political parties to compel the Federal Government to set up a panel of inquiry which will involve international observers so as to determine the kind of ink and ballot papers used and whether there was high – tech fraud implanted right from the embryonic stated of the whole electoral process with a predetermined poll outcome.

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