By Our Reporter
Following report of massive violence and irregularities that greeted Saturday’s Rivers state Senatorial election rerun, a coalition of Civil Society Organization, have called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately cancel the elections.
The coalitions which comprise The New Initiative for Credible Leadership, Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET), Africa Arise for Change Network, Nigerians United Against Terrorism, the Arewa Youth Integrity Forum, in a protest letter to INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner in Rivers State said anything short of total cancellation of the result will only make a mockery of Nigeria’s democracy because the exercise fell short of any local or international standard.
In a statement signed on behalf of the group by Rev Steven Onwu of the New Initiative for Credible Leadership, the coalition said should INEC fail to cancel the election, they will lead a protest to occupy the INEC headquarters in Abuja.
It stated, “we have noted with dismay that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has suspended the re-run elections in six of the local government areas of Rivers state. Our dismay arose out of the fact that the conduct of the re-run falls short of even the 2015 general elections whose cancellation was the basis for the re-run polls. To the extent that the election is flawed and characterised by violence, we demand that you cancel the election right away as going ahead to declare result will imply that your commission has its own agenda in Rivers state different from the widespread desire for free and credible elections in Nigeria.
“Failure to cancel the election will see us occupy the INEC headquarters in Abuja as we are determined to ensure that no individual or group of persons take advantage of the large cache of arms in their custody to reinvent a quasi- democratic coup in Rivers State.
“Despite the complete breakdown of law and order, your commission persisted in conducting the sham to the detriment of the electorate who have no way of expressing their true wishes under the condition in which the poll supposedly held. Even security operatives, who should provide cover for voters, were killed alongside citizens they should protect.
The group also accused the resident commissioner of complicity, while praising the conduct of the security agencies “that made efforts to send a strong message to the perpetrators of violence that Nigeria does not belong to them alone. Their reports will form basis to legally act against you when the time is right.”
The coalition asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency if the actors in Rivers have no respect for human lives and not ready to give democracy a chance.