By; AMOS TAUNA, Kaduna
The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has alleged that the mass cancellation of the February 23 polls in the middle belt and southern states by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as a deliberate and an orchestrated agenda to reduce voting strength of areas that are perceived not to be favourably disposed to the ruling party.
MBF observed that the cancelation of the polls by INEC has assisted in swinging victory for many candidates of the ruling party in the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly polls of February 23, 2019.
The MBF National President, Dr Bitrus Pogu, in statement issed said, “The attention of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has been drawn to mass cancellations of February 23 polls, mostly in the Middle Belt and Southern states. This action by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is a deliberate and an orchestrated agenda to reduce voting strength of areas that are perceived not to be favourably disposed to the ruling party.
“Without any doubt, the cancelation of the polls by INEC has assisted in swinging victory for many candidates of the ruling party in the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly polls of February 23, 2019.
“Instances of repression of people’s electoral rights were widely reported in many states of Kogi, Plateau and Nasarawa, including Southern Gombe and Southern Kaduna, among others.
“For instance, the cancellations in Nasarawa state provided a platform for the emergence of all senators. In Karu local government Area of the same state, the cancelation of over 150,000 votes gave an edge to a former governor who was declared winner of the poll for the ruling party, and across the various states of the Middle Belt. In Taraba State, suppression of votes through mass cancellation of polls proved a swinger for the ruling party in a state the opposition enjoys popular support.”
MBF noted that with these cancellations that have caused national outrage and international embarrassment, INEC has set the stage for a deliberate scheme to compromise the March 9 Governorship and State Assembly Elections, and pave the way for a fraudulent electoral process that will swing victory to governorship and state assembly candidates of the ruling party.
MBF observed, “These mass poll cancelations as declared by the electoral commission have led to massive disenfranchisement of millions of voters across the Middle Belt and Southern part of the country, thereby portraying INEC as a bussed umpire that is in bed with the ruling party to foist electoral heist that has capacity to cause chaos in the country, if not promptly and properly addressed.
“The commission’s unjustifiable cancelation of the polls has also engendered apathy among voters, just as many Nigerians in the affected areas are wondering if their votes would ever count in the March 9 polls.
The forum drew the attention of Nigerians and the world to the incidences of over-voting in the states of Yobe and Borno, among others, adding that where INEC refused to cancel these polls, the selective disposition in the conduct of the polls revealed that the electoral umpire was compromised and engaged in a devious scheme to suppress votes from certain areas, while turning a blind eye to the electoral irregularities in other areas that are strongholds of the ruling party.
“The MBF hereby condemns this orchestrated subversion of popular wish of the Middle Belt people and call on Nigerians to note these anomalies that have rendered the process a sham.
“Despite what has happened, the Forum calls on Nigerians to come out en masse and exercise their civic responsibility on Saturday March 9 and not be deterred by the illegal suppression of their votes,” the statement explained.