The Southern and Middle Belt Forum has raised alarm over alleged registration of foreigners from neighbouring countries, Niger Republic for instance, by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to generate huge figures of votes to manipulate the general elections in 2019.
The Forum in a communique on Sunday, signed by Yinka Odumakin, South-West; Senator Bassey Henshaw, South-South; Prof. Chigozie Ogbu, South-East; and Dr. Isuwa Dogo, Middle Belt, after a meeting in Lagos which commenced on Friday, expressed the concerns of leaders from the Middle Belt, South-South, South East and South West over how the Nigeria body politic is being mismanaged and the need for reforms.
In the Communiqué assessed by National Daily, the Forum alleged that registration of foreigners could be one of the reasons the Federal Government was in a haste to construct a rail from Kano through Dambatta, Kazaure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina, Jibia and terminate at Maradi in Niger Republic.
The South West, Middle Belt, South-South and South East leaders, reiterated their demand for the suspension of the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, pending the investigation of the underage voter scandal in Kano.
They reaffirmed their loss of confidence in the INEC Chairman “whose conduct over the scandal of underage voters in Kano has shown a gross betrayal of public trust,” the communiqué reflected.
The Southern and middle belt Leaders stated that intelligence report at their disposal shows that INEC was registering Nigeriens and other foreigners for the purpose of voting in the 2019 elections.
“Equally worrisome is the intelligence report at our disposal that a large number of mercenary voters have been registered from neighbouring countries, especially, from Niger Republic under the continuous voter registration which could have been one of the reasons why the Federal Government is in a haste to construct a rail from Kano, through Dambatta, Kazaure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina, Jibia and terminate in Maradi, Niger Republic. Money has been appropriated for this in the 2018 budget.”
They also recalled that INEC chairman had assured Nigerians that the alleged underage voter scam in Kano would be fully investigated.
“Five clear months after the promise and prompt conclusion of the assignment by the team he set up, the INEC chairman has refused to release the report which would necessarily have necessitated a nationwide interrogation of the voter registry.
“Information at our disposal is that the report of the committee is so damning and that is the reason why he is doing a macabre dance on it. How on earth can we trust a man doing such over an issue of public knowledge to be fair on matters relating to free and fair elections that would not be in the public glare?
“We demand the immediate release of the INEC report on the Kano underage voter’s scandal and interrogation of the voter registry by a judicial commission with representatives from international and local elections observers to check cases of underage voters and foreign mercenaries before the 2019 elections. This is very necessary as INEC cannot be a judge in its own case,” the leaders declared.
They further advocated that President Muhammadu Buhari should “rejig the nation’s security apparatus now…and reconstitute the security apparatus so as to earn the confidence of all communities in Nigeria.”