JOINT STATEMENT: Why We Set Conditions For Inclusive, Free And Credible Governorship Poll In Imo 2023 Including Immediate Transfer Of REC Sylvia Agu And 17 Other Top Electoral Officers And Demilitarization Of The Poll And Result Collation Centers

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inec

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu

…Intersociety And South-East CLO Told INEC Chairman In Their Letters

Enugu, Eastern Nigeria

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) and the South-East Zone of the Civil Liberties Organization (South-East CLO) have separately written to the Headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) pointing conditions for inclusive, free and credible Governorship Election in Imo State scheduled for Nov 11, 2023. While Intersociety’s letter was dated Monday, August 21, 2023 and signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi (Board Chair), Chidinma Udegbunam Esquire (Head of Publicity) and Ositadinma Agu (Head of Contacts and Mobilization); that of the South-East CLO was dated Tuesday, August 22, 2023 and signed by Chairman of the South-East CLO, Comrade Aloysius Emeka Attah.

Intersociety had in its letter urged the Headquarters of the Commission to comprehensively overhaul the Imo INEC and its principal departments including EOs, Administration, Operations, ICT, Voter Education, etc and address the anomalies arising from the 2023 Presidential/National/State Assembly polls in the State during which several INEC officers were strongly accused of playing different indictable roles to undermine the credibility of the polls; to the extent that the State Assembly Poll in the State was the worst of it all and a ‘walkover’ for candidates of the State ruling APC by “winning” 26 of the State’s 27 House of Assembly seats. Intersociety also clearly stated in its letter that “vicariously or otherwise, the State’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof Sylvia Agu did not stand tall to be counted and respected owing to her poor handling of the earlier 2023 polls and therefore could not be trusted to organize and deliver a free, participatory and credible Governorship Poll in the State scheduled for Nov 11, 2023”.

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Intersociety also added that “having comprehensively checked and monitored the goings on in Imo State ahead of the Nov 11, 2023 Governorship Poll, it has found that REC Sylvia Agu and 17 other top electoral officers including 11 EOs and six departmental heads drawn from the State INEC Secretariat are grossly incapable of ensuring free, participatory and credible Governorship Poll in the State” and that the INEC National Headquarters must address all the wrongs arising from the 2023 armada of electoral fraud and clean up and reposition the State’s INEC ahead of the Nov 11, 2023 Governorship Poll”. According to Intersociety, “the Headquarters of the Commission must also be told in clear terms that some, if not many of the Electoral Officers in Imo State’s 27 Local Government Areas have long overstayed far above periods allowed by the INEC Establishment Act of 2004 or the Electoral Act of 2022 as amended which has also made them vulnerable to electoral corruption and related sharp practices. It observed that “it is ‘certainly not sure’ that the Imo REC, Prof Sylvia Agu is capable of conducting free, participatory and credible Governorship Poll in the State on Nov 11, 2023; with a clear case in point being her recent invitation of 2,300 soldiers for the Poll which was not only widely condemned and rejected but also seen by many as “militarization of the Poll with intent to rig back the State incumbent”; generality of which had been viewed by critics as a clear evidence of her incapability of ensuring free, credible, popular and transparent Governorship Poll on Nov 11, 2023.

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Intersociety had in its letter raised alarm regarding “thickening and heightening fears over plots to militarize and ‘privatize Result Collation Centers” and urged the INEC Headquarters not to allow any room for such. Intersociety and South-East CLO strongly warned against using soldiers and other security agents whether drafted or attached to the incumbents at the State and Local Government levels and armed others to prevent and deny the opposition party agents, observers and relevant stakeholders access to monitor the result collations in line with the Electoral Act and Election Guidelines/Manuals issued for 2023 Polls. The Commission was called upon to directly control the security personnel that will man those result collation centers in order to avert a reoccurrence of what happened during the 2023 General Elections in the State.

The South-East CLO had in its letter stated that “we are writing Your Commission to add our strong advocacy voice by calling for inclusive, transparent, accountable and credible Governorship Election in Imo State on Nov 11, 2023. The South-East CLO had carried out several investigations into state of affairs in Imo State including those done jointly with Intersociety and our major investigative finding has continued to indicate the enthronement of popular and credible democratic Government in Imo State remains a key to ending myriad of problems bedeviling the State since January 2020”.

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“The South-East CLO therefore joins Intersociety in calling on Your Commission to get it right this time around in Imo State and we specifically align ourselves with advocacy findings and position of Intersociety that “REC Sylvia Agu and 17 other top electoral officers including 11 EOs and six departmental heads drawn the State INEC Headquarters are grossly incapable of ensuring free, participatory and credible Governorship Poll in Imo State as a result, we strongly back Intersociety’s call for immediate transfer of Imo INEC REC, Prof Sylvia Agu and 17 other top officials of the Commission in the State including 11 Local Government Electoral Officers (EOs): Emeka Okike Ukpa (Owerri West), Omeje Peter Ikebuchukwu (Nwerre), Nwabisi Theresa (Mbaitoli), Nnebue Adolph (Ezinihitte-Mbaise), Nnonyelum Benjamin (Ngokpala), Okorie Franklyn (Isiala-Mbano), Uzor Chikwendu (Okigwe), Nwachukwu Anyalewechi (Onuimo), Chukwuemeka Blessing (Orlu), Okafor Obiorah (Orsu), Uzoka Emmanuel (Oru East) and the following six heads of Imo’s INEC key departments: Emmanuella Okpara (HOD-Voter Education), Mr. Raymond (HOD-ICT), Chinonye Osuji (Public Relations Officer), Fidelis Uguru (Acting Administrative Secretary), Agnes Elokpo (ICT Department) and Okorie Esther (Acting HOD-Operations”.

Signed

For: Intersociety And South-East CLO

Emeka Umeagbalasi (Board Chair, Intersociety)

Barr Chidinma Udegbunam (Head, Publicity, Intersociety)

Ositadinma Agu (Head, Contacts and Mobilization)

                             And

Comrade Aloysius Emeka Attah (Chairman, South-East CLO)

                            Joint Contacts:

Mobile Lines: +2348174090052, +2348035090548

Emails: [email protected], [email protected]

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