For Immediate Release, March 6, 2023
Resign now if you’re not ready to ensure free, fair and credible elections — SaMBA tells INEC Chairman
. . . Also advises IGP, DS DG, Tribunal members to bow out honourably if they can’t defend integrity of the electoral process
The Southern and Middle Belt Alliance (SaMBA) has asked heads of organisations responsible for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections to resign with immediate effect if they do not have the capacity to assure Nigerians that the Saturday, 11th March, 2023 state elections would be free, fair and credible.
SaMBA in a statement issued on Monday and signed by its Spokesperson, Prince Rwang Pam Jr., specifically tasked the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), the Inspector General of Police, Director of the Department of State Service (DSS) and members of the various Election Tribunals, to reassure Nigerians or quit honourably.
The group lamented that the failure of INEC, Police and DSS to competently perform their constitutional duties during the 25th February Presidential and National Assembly elections “has not only brought international disgrace to Nigeria but equally failed to protect the mandate of millions of Nigerians.”
Stressing that “Nigerians need commitment that transcends verbal promises”, SaMBA noted that “the countless instances of bullying, intimidation of voters and snatching and destruction electoral materials in various polling units across the country in the presence of security agencies indicates gross incompetence on the part of the Nigeria Police whose primary responsibility is to protect lives and property.”
Moreover, “after a week of such daylight destruction and intimidation neither the NPF nor the DSS has paraded any of the political thugs or their sponsors as a demonstration of their commitment towards defending the integrity of the electoral process. Consequently, millions of Nigerian taxpayers and the international community are fast losing confidence in the sincerity of these security agencies,” SaMBA said.
It berated INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and his commissioners “who either by omission or commission or both have conducted an election that has been unanimously rejected as not being free, fair or credible by international observers and local observers as well as majority of Nigerians”.
Turning its attention to Saturday’s Governorship and State Houses of Assembly polls, SaMBA pointed out that “the elections present INEC an opportunity to redeem part of its battered image. It is therefore expected that the commission should by now publicly expunge its temporary and permanent staff and agents who are suspected to have been either compromised or incompetent.”
“Bold actions like these are likely to assure Nigerians that their votes would count during the March 11th 2023 state elections. INEC has a moral responsibility to buy back the confidence and trust of the Nigerian electorate. Merely stating that those bad eggs within INEC or its representatives will be taken off the electoral process indicates that the commission is yet to appreciate the magnitude of its failures during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“INEC must prove to Nigerians and the international community that it had not deliberately compromised the presidential elections by explaining convincingly and truthfully, why results in isolation failed to upload on the INEC server as repeatedly promised by the commission – what the problem was and steps it has taken to ensure that all results will be uploaded during this weekend’s elections,” SaMBA said.
It warned that, “At this point in Nigeria’s history owing to current realities on ground, this country cannot afford any deliberate action that has the tendency to derail the successful conduct of free, fair and credible elections.”
Addressing the heads of relevant agencies, the group said: “If the IG of Police feels that he is not well equipped or competent enough to safeguard the public, INEC staff and electoral materials on the 11th March, then he should resign and let someone else take over.
“If the INEC boss feels that he cannot conduct free, fair and credible elections, he should resign.
“If members of post elections tribunals feel that they are not ready to be objective and to give Nigerians justice without fear, favour or compromise, such members should kindly resign.”
SaMBA called on all Nigerians to remain calm and vigilant “as we approach the concluding part of the 2023 elections”. It charged “all Nigerians of voting age to come out en-masse to vote in fresh, honest and visionary State Governors and State Assembly members that will move the states forward.”
They should keep sentiments aside and elect only those who truly have the capacity and intention to move their respective states from consumption to production so that their states and Nigeria at large can witness a new lease of life,” the statement concluded.