Affidavits filed by Nigeria’s Attorney General Mohammed Bello Adoke and just leaked to SaharaReporters reveal a stealth and controversial attempt by President Goodluck Jonathan’s government to undermine the use of permanent voter cards (PVCs) in the country’s forthcoming elections.
Judicial sources, who leaked the affidavits to SaharaReporters, said the documents show that Mr. Adoke is opposed to efforts by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct free and fair elections using an updated electronic voters register and permanent voter cards.
At campaign stumps and interviews, President Jonathan has touted the adoption of PVCs as part of his legacy to ensure the empowerment of Nigerian voters, stating that the initiative would eliminate lapses in past elections. But affidavits filed by Mr. Adoke, a longtime confidante of Mr. Jonathan’s, reveal a surreptitious scheme to undermine the use of PVCs.
In one of the affidavits, Mr. Adoke, who is also Nigeria’s Minister of Justice, argued, “if the election is conducted majorly with the use of Permanent Voters’ Card, the constitutional right of the many eligible voters would be taken away from them.”
The affidavit also argued that the election “is likely to be unsuccessful if rigid use of the Permanent Voters’ Card is carried out.”
A second affidavit, also leaked to SaharaReporters, stated, “the use of card readers and/ or any other machine at the general elections must encourage eligible voters to vote without being deprived in any way.”
INEC chairman Attahiru Jega recently stated that the use of PVCs would not be to cast votes but to validate and authenticate the votes cast. The distinction, he said, was that the PVCs and card readers would prevent electoral manipulation by acting as a checking mechanism.
An INEC source told SaharaReporters that, without these electronic verification mechanisms, the presidential and other elections could be severely compromised.
Mr. Adoke’s affidavits, which are dated February 23, 2015, expose yet another attempt by President Jonathan’s associates to use incessant lawsuits to disrupt electoral processes decided on and announced by INEC several years ago.
SaharaReporters had revealed that cronies of Mr. Jonathan had filed some 15 lawsuits aimed at once again scuttling the presidential election now scheduled for March 28, 2015.
The affidavits by Mr. Adoke represent a new twist in the familiar plot, one legal source in Abuja told SaharaReporters. “The office of the Attorney General of the Federation has aligned itself with many litigants who are determined to use the courts to either scuttle the elections or stop INEC from using the best tools to prevent or drastically reduce rigging in this year’s elections. The use of rigging-proof electronic voter cards, which the AGF is now challenging, is an ominous sign,” said the source, a senior advocate of Nigeria.