From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
The Convener, Southeast Based Coalition of Democracy & Human Rights Organisations and Chairman of International Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law (Intersociety), Mr Emeka Umeagbalasi, has warned against rigging of forthcoming Anambra State Governorship election by the stakeholders and political actors in the state.
He said that since the return to civilian rule in 1999, the Anambra governorship poll had at one time or the other been determined by ‘living votes’ or ‘dead votes’.
Umeagbalasi explained that ‘dead votes’ arise as a result of low voters’ turnout and use of crooked register of voters votes are ‘dead’ to the extent that they do not emanate from independent and conscientious voters (‘living votes’).
‘Rather they are derived from massive uploading of procured Permanent Voters’ Cards or thump-printing of ballot papers or both using fictitious names and fraudulent biometrics. Voter apathy or low voters’ turnout encourages such rigging and this has been rearing its ugly heads in the state since 2003.
‘In the April 2003 governorship poll, the State’s Voters’ Register was grossly tainted and filled with fictitious names and non-living objects and symbols as “registered voters” and Dr Chris Ngige was awarded over 1m “dead votes”. The courts later set aside the same and validated Peter Obi’s 235,000 ‘living votes’. The trend continued in the successive elections to the present Governor Willie Obiano.
‘Despite deliberate threats of violence by politicians, army and police, Anambra voters can still vote unharmed. Voter proximity has fairly increased following the creation of additional 1,100 polling units, totalling 5,720 polling booths from 4,608 used in the 2019 general election.
‘These threats would have also been of no significant effect on Anambra voters had INEC lived up to its statutory and constitutional responsibilities by introducing a combination of manual and electronic voting. It is therefore the duty of religious and community leaders to get involved and ensure that independent and conscientious voters are encouraged to come out and vote.
‘From the above analysis, therefore, the total number of valid and ‘living votes’ cast expected to arise from the Nov 6 Governorship poll in Anambra State is 500,000 votes, out of which a credible winner will emerge.
‘However, we are not going to be surprised to see a declaration by INEC of “1.5m total votes cast” and allocation of “1.2m votes to the winner”. This was the case in the massively rigged Anambra governorship poll of April 2003 and the illegal Anambra governorship poll of 14th April 2007.
“That is to say that once the total votes cast exceeds the maximum of 500,000 votes in the 6th Nov 2021 Anambra governorship election, it is an express indication that the governorship poll has been massively rigged through massive uploading of procured PVCs using INEC’s ICT Department and thump-printing of ballot papers,’ Umeagbalasi alleges.