Pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, on Wednesday said President Muhammadu Buhari is encouraging under-age voting by not signing the Electoral Act passed by the National Assembly into law.
The group said the only way the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can prevent the incidence of under-age voting in the 2019 general elections was to insist on the use of card reader for all registered voters.
According to INEC, 13.5 million Nigerians voted manually without biometric accreditation in the 2015 presidential election.
The data shows that President Muhammadu Buhari, who was then candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), won in nine of the 10 states where people voted manually.
Speaking to our correspondent, Yinka Odumakin, national publicity secretary of Afenifere, said President Buhari having been a major beneficiary of underage voting in 2015 wanted a repeat next month hence his refusal to sign the Electoral Act.
The organisation further urged the international community such as the US, UK, EU and other foreign observers to monitor the election and insist INEC did the right thing, saying the whole world would be affected if the election in Nigeria went awry.
“In spite of the refusal of the president to sign the Electoral Act, INEC must insist on the use of card reader. Every voter must go through card reader.
“Remember that we have a lot of under-age voting in 2015. That was possible because 13.5 million voters voted manually without card readers. 45 percent of these ones are in the areas where President Buhari won election.
“That is why they want to enjoy it again this time around by not signing the Electoral Act. This election is so important to the future of this country as a stable polity. So, INEC must do everything possible to ensure that such things are prevented.
“Also, the world community like the US, EU, UK and others must beam their searchlight on Nigeria and put their foot down because in their own self-interest, if anything goes wrong in Nigeria, all their countries are in trouble. So, it is in the interest of the world community that nothing happens to dislocate the peace of Nigeria,” he said.
In a related development, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has declared that INEC could not be trusted to conduct credible polls in 2019 because of the inconsistent actions of the commission.
Governor Wike stated that though Rivers people were peace-loving, they would resist any attempt to rig the 2019 election in the state.
He spoke during a Special Appearance on Channels Television, Sunrise Daily, on Wednesday which was aired from the Government House, Port Harcourt.
He said: “INEC has different interpretations of judgments, depending on where it is coming from.
“When the court nullified the Rivers APC primaries, a lawyer of one of the factions wrote to INEC not to recognise any candidate because of the judgment.
“INEC wrote to APC notifying them of the outcome of that judgment.
“INEC merely said they were in receipt of the letter requesting that INEC should obey.
“In the case of PDP, INEC wrote to PDP in Ogun State where Buruji dragged the party to court, telling them they will comply.
“When there is a judgment against PDP, there is immediate enforcement.
“When it concerns APC, INEC says they are studying the judgment. In the case of Ogun State PDP, INEC quickly obeyed the judgment.”
The governor said INEC should work as an unbiased umpire, ensuring that the Electoral Act was respected at all times and due process followed in the conduct of elections.
Governor Wike noted that INEC had been involved in several under-the-table actions in Rivers State since 2015.
He said during the rerun elections, INEC connived with the police to deny the people of Rivers East Senatorial District their rightful mandate.
He stated that INEC and security agencies should commit themselves to working towards credible polls. He noted that INEC and security agencies should sign a pact to respect the tenets of the Electoral Act.
“The Peace Accord is a ceremony. It is a mere public display. The Peace Accord cannot work because they are not sincere.
“INEC and security should sign Peace Accord because they are the ones who create circumstances for electoral violence. They try to manipulate the process against the will of the people,” he said.