A Non-Governmental Organization, Development and Integrity Intervention Goal Foundation, has queried the Independent National Electoral Commission over the disparity between the statistics of registered voters in the presidential election and that of the governorship poll in Ebonyi State.
The organization, which was involved in aggressive voter education and campaign against tensions prior to the polls, monitored election activities across the 13 Council areas of the State as part of its mandate.
Presenting its preliminary report to journalists during its 2019 post-election debriefing and Civil Society Observers review held in Abakaliki on Thursday, the Executive Director of the group, Oliver Chima Ajah, condemned as fraudulent the changes in the number of registered voters declared by INEC in the two elections, questioning the reasons.
The group, which said it trained and deployed about 330 domestic observers across the 171 wards of the State, also decried the high level of voter inducement, violence, multiple voting and other forms of manipulation of the electoral process, adding that both the INEC and some security agencies compromised their professionalism.
According to their statistics, the number of registered voters during the two elections in the 12 out of the 13 local government areas varied either positively or negatively with the exception of Abakaliki Local Government Area, which remained constant.
In Afikpo North and South for instance, the number were given at 101,456 and 72,343 respectively during the presidential poll, while in the governorship, it changed to 101,599 and 75,767 respectively.
In Ikwo, Ebonyi, Izzi, Ohaozara, Ishielu, Ohaukwu, Onicha, Ivo, Ezza South and Ezza North, the differences ranged between 140 and over 33,000 voters in addition or reduction.
The DIG, however, commended the INEC for their synergy with the Civil Society Organisations and other monitoring groups during the elections which they described as the best in recent times.
The organization, nonetheless, warned that the continuation of the anomalies, which characterised the general elections was capable of making citizens lose interest in the country’s electoral process and called on INEC to make itself fully in charge rather than arrogating its powers to the politicians.
Ajah Chima stressed: “We still need to ask INEC to explain why ward collation centres were undermined.
“All the ward collation centres across the State did not follow the prescribed steps: results were not announced, results were not pasted as required.
“INEC need to also clarify why the the number of registered voters, in a space of two weeks after presidential election, changed in almost all the LGAs, except Abakaliki.”
In his submissions, the State Coordinator, Coalition of Civil Society organisations, Kelechi Okezie, called on all stakeholders in the country’s electoral process to keep the faith in advocating for a reformed electoral system in spite of the present odds.
Okezie joined other groups in calling for the adoption of total electronic voting in the country’s elections as the only panacea to the regular abnormalities in the process.
Recall that the DIG Foundation is one of the members of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room under partnership with the United Kingdom Department for International Development.