A coalition of civil society organisations under the aegis of the Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group (ISDMG) says the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cannot not be blamed for the irregularities observed in the recent local government elections in Kano, Delta and Ekiti states.
ISDMG Executive Director, Dr. Chima Amadi, said this yesterday in Abuja when he addressed journalists in company of other directors of the organisation, including Ezenwa Nwagwu and Faith Nwadishi.
Dr. Amadi said INEC was not responsible for the conduct of the polls in which several videos showed underage persons engaging in vote rigging exercises in the just concluded Kano State local government elections, as well as ballot paper thumb printing in Delta and Ekiti states.
He said the cry and the pointing of fingers at INEC showed a huge gap in the literacy of voters in the Nigerian electoral process and the different role and responsibilities of the election management bodies at different levels.
“ISDMG wishes to reiterate the following: that there are two recognised Election Management Bodies (EMB) in the country, INEC and the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC).
“The two bodies are, as their names imply, ‘independent’ at the levels they operate, INEC at the national and SIEC at the state.
“INEC does not have the legal mandate to conduct elections into local government councils except in the FCT. That is the responsibility of SIElCs, and the videos in circulation are from recently concluded local council elections in Kano, Delta and Ekiti states.
“According to Section 25 of the Electoral Act (2010), as amended, INEC is only mandated to conduct elections into the senate and House of Representatives; the office of the president and governors and into the Houses of Assembly.
“It is also mandated by Section 103 of the same act to conduct elections into the area councils of the FCT.
“INEC staff did not in any way supervise the said elections nor act as official observers as INEC does not supervise the SIECs,” he said.
The coalition called for the amendment of the constitution to guarantee financial autonomy to the SIECs to ensure that governors did not force chairpersons and commissioners of the state electoral bodies to conduct elections at their whims and caprices.