Insists on simultaneous electronic cum manual collation of election results by INEC
The National Human Rights Commission has condemned in strong terms the politically motivated killings in Kano, Kaduna Anambra and Enugu states in the month of February, cautioning those behind the heinous human rights violations to desist from such conduct so as not to engender a situation of voter apathy ahead of the March 11 governorship election.
The Commission has also called for calm and peaceful conduct amongst citizens who have expressed concern about the delay by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in uploading election results in its portal, reminding them of the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 which provides that results shall be collated manually and electronically before uploading.
The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Chief Tony Ojukwu OFR, SAN who stated this at the February edition of the Review Forum on Human Rights and the 2023 Elections noted that the right to peaceful assembly was violated in places like Kano, Bauchi, and Lagos state.
Similarly, he regretted the violation of the right to freedom of association in Kano, Rivers, and Lagos states as well as disrespect to the right to dignity of the human person observed in Lagos, Kogi, and Nasarawa states.
The Chief Human Officer of Nigeria expressed dismay about the road blockade in Kogi state which was targeted at one of the three senatorial districts even as he condemned the destruction of INEC’s offices, ballot boxes, and other materials.
Despite these challenges, the NHRC Boss urged Nigerians not to be upset but to continue to have confidence in the electoral process, commending them for coming out en-masse during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
He also called them to fully exercise their right to vote and to be voted for in the forthcoming governorship election, advising that a situation of voter apathy will further deprive them of the opportunity of choosing the leaders of their choice which according to him is a critical component of democracy.
During his presentation, the Senior Human Rights Adviser to the Executive Secretary, Mr. Hilary Ogbonna disclosed that within the month of February under review, the Commission’s Hate Speech Register recorded 15 hate speeches including those made by two traditional rulers in Lagos and that after the polls, the Commission will set up an investigative panel for the aggregated hate speeches by the NHRC’s hate speech registrars across its 36 state offices.
The Human Rights Adviser disclosed that the MOVE Project recorded some human rights violations in the month of February 2023 as follows: political violence 3, killing of law enforcement agents 10, attacks by unknown gunmen and bandits 12, attack on INEC facilities 2, and political killings 9.
Thereafter, he presented the February edition of NHRC 2023 Elections Human Rights Situation Dashboard which summarises human rights issues of the month as they relate to the elections.
In his remarks, the National Coordinator of Legal Defence Assistance Project (LEDAP), Chinonye Obiagwu SAN lauded the NHRC for initiating the Mobilising Voters for Election (MOVE) Project, saying that it seeks to entrench respect for human rights, particularly in the law enforcement agents as well as other stakeholders in the electioneering process.
Obiagwu used the opportunity to urge INEC to follow the laid down rules and the relevant laws, including the Electoral Act 2022 towards ensuring transparent and credible elections.
The erudite lawyer however commended the INEC for finding an alternative to ensuring the continuation of uploading the election results on its portals, which according to him posed a problem on Monday (27th February 2023), pointing out that 45 percent of the results have been uploaded at the time of this report.
Other participants at the review forum are the representative of the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Matthias Schmale, Chair Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Mr. Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, etc.