A frontline pro-democracy group, The National Democratic Front (NDF) has handed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) a three day ultimatum to give the final result for the governorship election in Bayelsa state or face large scale protest in both its national headquarters and in all its offices nationwide.
The group of 21 signatories condemned what it considered as the latest antics of INEC to declare elections inconclusive without cogent reasons, noting that the new leadership of the Commission has proven that it has plans to derail the nation’s democracy.
In a statement read by NDF’s National Secretary, Pastor Sunny Bright Attah, in Abuja on Thursday, the group expressed worries that all the political parties that participated in the Bayelsa state governorship election are now laying claim to the highest vote cast in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the State.
Pastor Attah noted that “it is unconstitutional for political parties to arrogate the role of the electoral umpire to themselves by declaring voting results but unfortunately this is the sorry pass INEC has brought the country to. The declaration of the election as inconclusive is therefore unacceptable.”
He recalled that the commission’s decision to similarly declare a governorship election inconclusive in Kogi state created a constitutional crisis that is yet to be resolved as the leading candidate in the election died with several candidates now claiming a win.
According to him, “Inconclusive election is an indication of lack or seriousness and economic wastage on the part of INEC and it is not acceptable. We are concerned about what will happen to the conduct of nationwide general elections if the current leadership at the commission is unable to conclusively conduct election in just one state over the course of three days.”
“This trend of inconclusiveness of elections in recent times is a practice that breeds injustice and malpractice. We are calling on INEC to as a matter of fact declare the results of elections held in Bayelsa in order to clear the constitutional stalemate that is looming around the governance of the oil rich state.
“We hereby warn INEC that pro -democracy activists all over the country will take over their headquarters should they fail to announce the results after 72hours.
“Let it be established that it is an abuse of the concept of separation of powers as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution for INEC to abrogate to itself the powers of a law court. It behooves on us as patriotic citizens to defend the constitution irrespective of who the actors are or how highly placed they are.” Pastor Attah warned.
He further cautioned Nigerians that they must not keep quiet in the face of the brazen attempt by INEC’s new leadership to roll back the progress made in conducting free and acceptable elections in Nigeria as this could make the 2019 elections the worst in the country’s history if the declining transparency is not addressed.
By Jerry Emmanson, Abuja