The United States of America, United Kingdom and European countries have been asked to impose visa ban on the Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, and other 43 top INEC staff for allegedly rigging last Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections in the country.
Sahara Reporters stated that the call was made by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety).
The group also called for visa ban on four state governors; Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, Hope Uzodinma of Imo State and David Umahi of Ebonyi State.
The group made the call in petition to 31 key foreign missions in Nigeria, representing the world’s best and most powerful democracies. The missions the petition was addressed to include: Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria/ECOWAS and Ambassadors or High Commissioners of US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, State of Israel, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Czech, Portugal, Norway, Finland, Austria, Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Greece, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Australia, the Vatican, South Korea, Brazil and Mexico.
In the letter which SaharaReporters obtained on Thursday, dated Wednesday, 1st March 2023, Intersociety alleged that 44 top INEC officials named in the petition were vicariously or directly involved in the INEC in-house rigging of the 2023 Presidential which the group described as antithetic to democracy.
According to the petition, the INEC official accused of the rigging are – “Prof Mahmood Yakubu, INEC’s National Chairman,14 past and serving National Commissioners which include: Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Mua’zu (retd) (Gombe), Mrs May Agbamuche-Mbu (Delta), Dr Adekunle Ladipo Ogunmola (Oyo), Mallam Mohammed Kudu Haruna (Kano), Ukegbu Nnamdi (Abia), Major Gen Abubakar Alkali (retd) (Adamawa), Rhoda Gumus (Bayelsa), Sam Olumekun (Ondo), Barr Festus Okoye (Anambra), Kunle Ajayi (Ekiti), Muhammad Kallah (Borno), Dr Baba Bila (North-East), Prof Sani Adam (North-Central) and Prof Abdullahi Abdu (North-West).”
Also accused and demanded to be slammed visa ban are 37 past and serving 37 State Resident Electoral Commissioners. They are “Ibrahim Abdullahi (Adamawa State), Obo Effanga (Cross Rivers), Agboke Olaleke (Ogun), Prof Sam Egwu (Kogi), Onyeka Ugochi (Imo), Muhammad Bashir (Sokoto), Prof Ayobami Salami (Oyo), Olaniyi Ijalaye (Ondo), Muhammed Nura (Yobe), Zango Abdu (Katsina), Dr. Elizabeth Agwu (Ebonyi), Agundu Tarsoo (Benue), Yomere Onitsemlebi (Delta), Prof Yahaya Ibrahim (Kaduna), Nura Ali (Kano), Agu Uchenna (Enugu), Ahmed Garki (FCT), Hudu Yunusa (Bauchi), Prof Uzochukwu Chijoke (Anambra).
Others are “Abdulganiyu Raji (Oyo), Risikuwa Shehu (Sokoto), Bello Mahmud (Zamfara), Nentawe Yilwada (Plateau),Umar Ibrahim (Taraba), Mustapha Zubairu (Niger), Asmau Maikudi (Katsina), James Apam (Benue), Godswill Obioma (Abia), Olusegun Agbaje (Lagos), Dr. Cyril Omorogbe (Edo State), Baba Yusuf (Borno), Dr. Uthman Ajidagba (Kwara), Yahaya Bello (Nasarawa), Dr Emmanuel Hart (Rivers), Mohammed Ibrahim (Gombe), Mahmuda Isah (Kebbi) and Dr. Adediran Rahmon Tella (Osun). Two key Directors of INEC: Engineer Paul Omokere (Director of ICT) and Dr. Lawrence Bayode (Deputy Director of ICT) are among those blacklisted and petitioned against.”
Intersociety stated, “We humbly requested to slam visa ban and other inter-country entry restrictions and block international engagements and recognitions in their names particularly those involving the National Chairman of INEC (Prof Mahmood Yakubu), the National Commissioner for Voter Education who doubles as National Commissioner for Anambra, Imo and Enugu, Mr Festus Okoye.”
The civil rights organisation noted that the four governors of Rivers, Imo, Kaduna and Ebonyi States were directly involved in the widespread voter suppression and brutal subversion of the sacred electoral wishes of Nigerians during the INEC in-house brutally rigged Feb 25, 2023 Presidential Election.
In the petition signed by principal officers – Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chinwe Umeche, Obianuju Joy and Chidinma Udegbunam, Intersociety made seven demands:
“Slam visa sanctions and other international travel, engagement and recognition restrictions on the serving Gov of Imo State and office immunity losing (outgoing) Govs of Rivers, Kaduna and Ebonyi States. Included in the list is Gov Yahaya Bello of Kogi State who will also be losing office immunity on 29th May 2023
“Repatriate all their stashed away material and human deposits and monetary valuable services (if any) traced and linked to the 44 top INEC officials and strongly suspected office atrocity perpetrator Govs named.
“Ensure that all members of their nuclear families living or holidaying or studying anywhere in the named respected countries and their assets and liabilities are speedily repatriated back to Nigeria and permanently embargoed from finding their way back to the respected countries.
“Particularly, Prof Mahmood Yakubu and Festus Okoye Esquire should be stripped of international forums and opportunities to speak emptily and noisily and stop from receiving undue international attentions and recognitions and permanently barred from traveling to any of the 31 respected Democratic countries named including their nuclear family members.
“Holistically review future funding and international democracy support funds to INEC and its rubberstamping CSOs including scholarships and sponsorship of their international visitations and exchange programs and speech deliveries.
“Downward review of funding of Election Day monitoring and upward review of supporting independent CSOs’ critical oversight on INEC especially during Continuous Voters’ Registration and Distribution of Permanent Voters’ Cards to discourage disenfranchisement and enhance enfranchisement
“Mount sufficient pressure and tying future democracy support funding to INEC on full digitalization of voting process or dualization of voting in the country or any part thereof to include electronic PVC and manual PVC voting; whereby registered voters can vote from their homes or choose to vote physically at polling units with their votes count.”