The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) yesterday condemned the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the general election by one week.
CISLAC, a non-governmental organisation, said it was seriously perturbed by sudden postponement of general elections by the commission few hours to the presidential and National Assembly elections.
It expressed disappointment at in a statement by its Executive Director, Mr. Musa Rafsanjani, saying such abrupt decision informed by deliberate abuse of independent power that might discredit subsequent position by the commission as an independent body before national and international observers.
The statement said, “We are not unaware of systemic conflict of interests and questionable procurement process imbibed by the various positions in the Commission creating tendency for mutual sabotage among the three levels of appointees— national commissioners and appointed relatives to the directors in various departments.
“We are concerned by the wastages and losses the postponement would have caused the country, civil society and international community that have committed hopping financial and human resources to deployment and observation missions to ensure free, fair and credible elections that will be acceptable to all.”
Given large presence of youth deployment for anchoring electoral processes and international electoral observation missions across the country, the statement said such abrupt postponement is a huge setback to our nation’s democracy which may breed electoral apathy and distrust at all levels.
With the new electoral dates, giving the space of a week extension, the statement said, “We are as well worried for the safety and integrity and security of elections materials which have been disseminated across the country.”
It, therefore, called on the National Assembly “to as a matter of urgency constitute an ad hoc Committee to investigate the sudden postponement to clear the Commission of public doubt that her decision was not informed by desperate desires of unjust individuals or groups who wants to assume or sustain power by all illegitimate means.
“We demand adequate security for both materials and human resources deployed by the Commission so far to the field to avert susceptibility to violations and attacks by unpatriotic individuals or groups across the country.
“We call on the commission to tender unreserved apologies to Nigerian and international observers, who are committed their time, presence and financial resources to monitor the electoral process with assurance that elections would hold as earlier scheduled.
“These apologies must also be rendered to Nigerian voters who have invested time and resources to sacrifice the day for them to discharge their civic responsibility.
“We demand immediate assurances by the commission that the new electoral date, February 23 is certain, and the distributed sensitive materials will be kept under appropriate supervision and security till the new date.”
It urged the civil society groups, media, national and international observation missions “to sustain surveillance on the electoral process to promote free, fair and credible elections that will be acceptable to all.”