2023 Elections: CSO Demands Immediate Removal Of INEC’s Lagos REC

1 year ago
3 mins read

As the 2023 elections draw closer, the Nigeria’s Voters Watch (NVW), a civil society organisation,  has called for immediate removal of the Lagos State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr Olusegun Agbaje.

The group, which is accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2023 election, made the call during a press conference in Lagos on Wednesday, 15th February 2023.

The group said the call to remove the Lagos State INEC REC became necessary following series of disturbing utterances attributed to him recently.

Agbaje had in an interview with Channels TV, while giving reasons why residents of some parts of Lagos, who are mostly from the South-East, could not get their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), said some of them migrated from the region to Lagos due to insecurity in the region within the last one year.

READ ALSO: Thousands Unable To Collect PVCs In Oshodi/Isolo LG, 3 Days To INEC’s Deadline

He claimed that the affected people mostly from Okota area in Oshodi-Isolo Local Government Area, may have had double registration which disqualified them from getting their PVCs.

Reacting to that, a spokesperson for Peter Obi Campaign Organisation, Kenneth Okonkwo, had accused Agbaje of referring to the people of South-East origin based in Lagos as immigrants in their country and therefore called for his removal before the 25th February presidential election.

Addressing journalists at the Wednesday press conference, Dr Stella Ford of the Nigeria’s Voters Watch, urged INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, to remove Mr Agbaje immediately, to prevent him from superintending the forthcoming elections in Lagos State.

Ford, a legal expert and human rights activists, said INEC could either suspend or terminate Agbaje’s “appointment outrightly, with immediate effect to curtail and minimize the damages he has caused already by sowing the seeds of bias, bigotry and doubt in the public.”

READ ALSO: 2023 Elections: How To Confirm Your Polling Unit Online

The activist also condemned INEC’s withdrawal of 240 Polling Units (PUs) and redistributed voters in those PUs to others across Nigeria without adequate efforts to educate voters on the changes and how the affected voters could locate their new PUs.

Her words: “We urge INEC as a matter of urgency, to educate voters by sending SMS, Phone contacts and general public education.”

She urged INEC to display voter registration at least 10 days to the election starting from Thursday, February 16, to give voters enough time to verify their PUs.

She also expressed concern about the safety of voters on election day due to threats and violent attacks already unleashed on supporters of political parties by opposing camps.

Particularly, she condemned the attack on Labour Party supporters and members during Peter Obi’s rally in Lagos State on Saturday, February 11, 2023, and called on security agencies to step up efforts in protecting lives, especially in this election season.

“Safety and security of voters should be taken very seriously by INEC in view of threats and physical injuries already suffered by potential voters, especially Labour Party voters,” she stated.

She made reference to a recorded voice of alleged APC members threatening some residents of a part of Lagos with physical removal if they fail to vote the ruling party in the state, and called on law enforcement officials to promptly arrest and prosecute them.

Speaking further on security of lives and election materials during the polls, Ford said: “For the safety and security of Votes cast on election day, INEC should, as a matter of urgency, withdraw any arrangements regarding the transportation of voting materials from private interested individuals in Lagos and nationwide.

“The disturbing voice mail that has reached us and many people, including members of the press and law enforcement agencies where elected and appointive APC members threaten their neighbors even with physical removal from Lagos if they failed to vote APC should be taken very seriously. Information reaching us is that the law enforcement agencies are looking into the matter. We urge that Prompt prosecution should be commenced immediately.

“INEC and law enforcement agencies should sanction political parties and their members who commit acts of intimidation, physical threat and verbal threats. (a good example is Mr Oshomole’s tacit support, nudging and directive to APC supporters to intimidate and threaten their opponents, this is evidenced by a video in circulation,” she stated.

She also called on the international community to revoke visas of political leaders who encourage electoral violence that undermine democracy and deny them entry to developed countries.

Ford lamented about the fate of Nigerian students who registered but could not get their PVCs due to time and warned that it would amount to great injustice if a large number of them who are in the youthful population should be disenfranchised in that manner.

She urged the electoral body to set aside at least two days to enable them get their voter cards.

“These students registered while sitting at home due to strike by the university lecturers. The strike was called off and they returned to their various campuses, while the PVCs were being distributed to Nigerians. You don’t expect a student in Jos or Kaduna to travel back to Lagos or Enugu where the person got registered during the strike just to collect the PVC. INEC must find a way of letting them have their cards before election. It is great injustice to disenfranchise a large number of our youth population,” Dr Ford stated.

Victor Ezeja is a passionate journalist with six years of experience writing on economy, politics and energy. He holds a Masters degree in Mass Communication.


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