By Adebiyi Adedapo in Abuja
A non-governmental organisation, the New Initiative for Credible Leadership, has demanded outright cancellation of Saturday’s re-run election in Rivers State, saying it falls short of all known local and international standards of acceptable elections and should have been called off when violence spiked in the hours preceding it.
In a letter to the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Rivers State, Aniedi Ikoiwak, the group said it would work with the Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET), Africa Arise for Change Network, Nigerians United Against Terrorism, Arewa Youth Integrity Forum and other NGOs that monitored the election to occupy the Abuja headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should it go ahead to validate the controversial polls.
The letter by the New Initiative for Credible Leadership’s Rev Steven Onwu said a group of NGOs were asking that President Muhammadu Buhari should declare a state of emergency if the actors in the state continue to disrespect the sanctity of human lives and not ready to give democracy a chance.
It warned the REC that the NGOs “are not ruling out the option of demanding that you (Ikoiwak) stand trial if you go ahead to act in ways that confirm you are complicit in the criminal conduct of the fraud that is now being passed off as an election.”
While arguing that no right thinking person would attempt to ascribe the name of election to what took place in Eleme, Gokana, Khana, Adoni, Tai and Bonny Local Government Areas, the group contended that Ikoiwak has “helped INEC to break its own record by conducting what is now the worst election in Nigeria.
“This posture of INEC in Rivers State greatly encouraged political actors to display lack of respect for the sanctity of human lives to the extent that Nigerians are now greatly worried that they have been returned to the barbaric and Hobbesian state of nature for the interest of very few Nigerians,” it noted.
The letter further stated: “While you (Ikoiwak) continue to pretend that all is well, we have cause to salute the conduct of the security agencies that made efforts to send a strong message to the perpetrators of violence that Nigeria does not belong to them alone. Their reports will form basis to legally act against you when the time is right.
“Despite the complete breakdown of law and order, your persisted in conducting the sham to the detriment of the electorate who have no way of expressing their true wishes under the condition in which the poll supposedly held.
“Even security operatives, who should provide cover for voters, were killed alongside citizens they should protect. There was widespread snatching of ballot boxes, results were written in obscure locations, there were escalated threats to the lives of voters, and armed militants were mobilised to disrupt polls in addition to other unspeakable atrocities that exposed the decline of INEC in the past months to the international community,” Onwu stated.