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“The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Yakubu Mahmood may have compromised the February 16th 2019 presidential poll in favour of the incumbent going by the plethora of genuine, verifiable and unambiguous evidence that Nigerians with Christian names were denied their permanent voters cards in most parts of the country and especially the federal capital territory.”

HURIWA said it has received approximately ten thousand reports from Abuja and most Northern States of persons complaining of discrimination by officials of INEC in the distribution of permanent voter’s cards. The Rights group has also asked for urgent investigation by the National Assembly of the cocktails of premeditated fire bombs that have burnt down offices of the electoral commission in Plateau, Abia, Anambra States. 

Making this groundswell of allegation of criminal bias against the electoral umpire is the foremost pro-democracy and civil rights body – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) which also tasked Professor Yakubu Mahmood to clear the air regarding his adorning of the customized cap of the All Progressives Congress (APC) with the symbols of broom which is the official symbols of the ruling APC. “The adorning publicly of APC customised hat by the INEC chairman must not be overlooked because there are allegations that the cap symbolises a certain oath of loyalty to the ideals of APC. This mist be investigated”. 

In a media statement endorsed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) said the manipulation of the distribution of the permanent voter’s cards to eligible Nigerians which is skewed in favour of one religion and the Northern region is a violation of section 13, 14 (1) (2) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and amounts to criminal disenfranchisement of Nigerians which are absolutely prohibited.

HURIWA  recalled that Section 13 of the constitution stated thus: “It shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative executive or judicial powers to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of this constitution.” The Rights group stated that INEC by willfully denying certain sections of Nigeria of their constitutionally guaranteed right to exercise their franchise and the right to vote amounted to a grave breach of the aforementioned provision of the constitution. 

HURIWA  says Section 14 (1) specifies thus: “The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a state base on the principles of democracy and social justice. (2) It shall hereby, accordingly, declared that – sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this constitution derives all its powers and authority; the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government; and the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this constitution.” HURIWA said the unconstitutional skewing of the circulation of the voters cards to certain favoured Nigerians presumed to be loyal to the incumbent President is a breach of this aforementioned provision of the grundnorm. 

HURIWA recalled that By virtue of section 15 (4); 42 (1) (a) (b) (2) of the Nigerian constitution all segments of the Nigerian polity must be treated equitably and equally just as Section 15 (4) of the Nigeria constitution stated thus: “The state shall foster a feeling of belonging and of involvement among the various peoples of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties.”

HURIWA  accused  INEC of criminal discrimination which is a violation of Section 42 (1) (a) (b) (2) that states as follows: “(1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person – (a) 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 citizen of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or (b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizen Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions. (2) No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth.”

HURIWA stated thus: “As a civil rights body that is charged with monitoring how the fundamental human rights of the citizens are promoted, protected and nurtured we are aware based on verifiable eye witnesses’ accounts that millions of Southern Christians have been denied their human rights to vote.”

“We have noticed that most of those who told our field officers that they have been unable to pick up their permanent voters cards, are either Christians from the middle belt or from the South even as the citizens of the Igbo speaking states in most parts of the North and Abuja could not receive their voters cards for no clear reasons even as majority of the officials from INEC in charge of the PVCs are Muslims of northern Nigeria.”

“These are clear cases of discrimination by the leadership of INEC. We were told by some officials from INEC who are close to some of our people that the leadership of INEC believe that most Southerners and Northern Christians who are angry that president Buhari could not tackle the armed Fulani herdsmen’s attacks, have shifted their loyalty to the Peoples Democratic Party.”

“We are sending our detailed findings to the United Nations human rights council, the United States government and the European Union to report our findings regarding the systematic exclusion of Christians from exercising their rights to vote on February 16th as perpetrated by INEC headed by the Northern born Yakubu Mahmood.”

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