The Southern and Middle Belt Alliance has sent a message to the INEC chairman.
The group asked Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, to resign if he cannot conduct free, fair and credible elections.
The group also called on heads of organisations responsible for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections to resign with immediate effect if they do not have the capacity to assure Nigerians that the Saturday, March 11 governorship elections would be free, fair and credible.
SaMBA, in a statement issued on Tuesday and signed by its spokesperson, Prince Rwang Pam Jr., specifically tasked the INEC chairman, the Inspector General of Police, Director of the Department of State Service and members of the various election tribunals to reassure Nigerians or quit honourably.
The group lamented that the failure of INEC, the police and DSS to “competently perform their constitutional duties” during the February 25, presidential and National Assembly elections “have not only brought international disgrace to Nigeria but equally failed to protect the mandate of millions of Nigerians.”
It noted that Nigerians need a commitment that transcends verbal promises, noting that the instances of bullying, intimidation of voters and snatching and destruction of electoral materials in various polling units across the country in the presence of security agencies indicated gross incompetence on the part of the police whose primary responsibility is to protect lives and property.
The statement read partly, “After a week of such daylight destruction and intimidation, neither the NPF nor the DSS has paraded any of the political thugs or their sponsors as a demonstration of their commitment towards defending the integrity of the electoral process.
“Consequently, millions of Nigerian taxpayers and the international community are fast losing confidence in the sincerity of these security agencies.”
The group further berated the INEC chairman and his commissioners “who either by omission or commission or both have conducted an election that has been unanimously rejected as not being free, fair or credible by international observers and local observers as well as majority of Nigerians.”
SaMBA, however, pointed out that the next Saturday’s governorship and state Houses of Assembly polls have presented INEC with an opportunity to redeem itself.
The statement read, “It is therefore expected that the commission should by now publicly expunge its temporary and permanent staff and agents who are suspected to have been either compromised or incompetent.
“Bold actions like these are likely to assure Nigerians that their votes would count during the March 11, 2023 state elections. INEC has a moral responsibility to buy back the confidence and trust of the Nigerian electorate. Merely stating that those bad eggs within INEC or its representatives will be taken off the electoral process indicates that the commission is yet to appreciate the magnitude of its failures during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“INEC must prove to Nigerians and the international community that it had not deliberately compromised the presidential elections by explaining convincingly and truthfully, why results in isolation failed to upload on the INEC server as repeatedly promised by the commission – what the problem was and steps it has taken to ensure that all results will be uploaded during this weekend’s elections.
“At this point in Nigeria’s history owing to current realities on ground, this country cannot afford any deliberate action that has the tendency to derail the successful conduct of free, fair and credible elections. If the IG of Police feels that he is not well equipped or competent enough to safeguard the public, INEC staff and electoral materials on March 11, then he should resign and let someone else take over.
“If the INEC boss feels that he cannot conduct free, fair and credible elections, he should resign.
“If members of post elections tribunals feel that they are not ready to be objective and to give Nigerians justice without fear, favour or compromise, such members should kindly resign.”
SaMBA called on all Nigerians to remain calm and vigilant “as we approach the concluding part of the 2023 elections.” It charged “all Nigerians of voting age to come out en-masse to vote in fresh, honest and visionary State Governors and State Assembly members that will move the states forward.
“They should keep sentiments aside and elect only those who truly have the capacity and intention to move their respective states from consumption to production so that their states and Nigeria at large can witness a new lease of life,” the statement concluded.