We are worried about the serious allegations associated with Mr. Mike Igini’s conduct of the voters’ registration exercise in Cross River State, specifically his decision to delay the release of the authentic voters register in spite of the legal framework for that very strategic component of the electoral regime in the ongoing democratic process.
We wish to draw your attention to a recent newspaper publication in which Mr Igini mentioned that he didn’t display the authentic voters register in public interest.
This alleged failure on the part of Mr Igini to display the authentic voters register for the people of Cross River State, if not quickly redressed, could constitute a gross violation of the fundamental human rights of the citizens of the state to choose who should govern them.
The delay would prevent them from cross-checking and making sure that their correct details are captured and reflected by INEC, to determine whether their names will be missing in the final register.
It is annoying that our Comrade finds the time to participate in political programmes in cities and would not remain at his duty post to discharge his tasks to the people of Cross River State.
Apart from that, as human rights practitioners with membership drawn from the civil society, we are worried that the inability of the INEC to register a greater percentage of the people of Cross River State, as reported by our field officers who monitored the voters registration exercise was a gross violation of Section 42 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which provides that; “A citizen of Nigeria of particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not by reason only that he is such a person be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religion or political opinions are not made subject to….”
We have it on good authority that most of the people of Bakassi in Cross River State were not registered. Our members have raised observations that the public utterances and conducts of Mr Igini have created the impression that he is the rallying point for political opposition in Cross River State.
We think that the unnecessary noise generated by Mr Igini is a dangerous signal that an Resident Electoral Commissioner, who ought to show neutrality, has allegedly become partisan so much so that political parties are beginning to organize public rallies for him.
His actions have polarized the state and the Cross River State House of Assembly recently passed a vote of no confidence on him.
Our members feel that the cogent and verifiable reasons that occasioned this vote of no confidence must be investigated by INEC to salvage whatever public image is left of that vital institution in Cross River State.
We believe that Nigeria is undergoing transition to a durable and vibrant democracy. Therefore, public office holders appointed to midwife this delicate process of democratization must not be identified with only particular partisan interest, but must live above board.
We are reasonably convinced that if Mr Igini continues to show his alleged bellicose tendencies and eventually fails in his constitutional duty to discharge his assigned responsibilities, then the people of Cross River State will be the losers as the situation is capable of compromising the stability of the state.
We wish INEC will not hesitate to tackle what is perceived to be going wrong in the electoral body so that Nigeria will become a better society.
We have no other country, so we are obliged, as statesmen and patriots, to call on your goodself and offices to take immediate and verifiable action to stop organized political anarchy from taking place in Cross River.
Onwubuiko is of the Human Rights Writers Association, Abuja