A human rights organisation, the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), has called for the removal and prosecution of the Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Olusegun Agbaje, in Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria over an alleged incitement to genocide and ethnic cleansing targeting Igbo people in the state.
This was contained in an open letter to the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, addressed through INEC’s National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Mr Festus Okoye.
Intersociety accused the Resident Electoral Commissioner for manifestly shows partisanship as characterised by verifiable video clips showing where he systematically and orchestrated plots to deprive the Nigerian citizens of South-East, resident in Lagos their PVCs and rights to participate and vote in the February 25 presidential poll.
"Apart from genocidally referring to them as “South-East migrants”, the REC did not hide his hatred of the South-East residents in Lagos by denying them PVCs under frivolous circumstances.
"As if these were not enough, the REC ended up vicariously, if not directly by inciting native residents preparatory to unleashing “Election Day and Post Election Day” ethnic cleansing against the South-East residents in the State. He also hatefully lied unpardonably by describing the decades-old South-East residents in Lagos as “those that migrated and settled in Lagos to escape insecurity in the South-East”.
"It must be remembered that not long ago, batches of carefully sorted out PVCs with ethno-religious marks bearing Igbo and other Eastern names were carted away from INEC custody and scattered and dumped in large numbers inside gutters and streets along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. In 2015 and 2019, organised group violence was unleashed on Igbo citizens’ resident in Lagos by loyalists of the leading political actors in Lagos for conscientiously voting for candidates of their choice.
"In the 2019 Presidential Poll, Igbo properties including homes and market stores as well as polling units in their areas were targeted, attacked and wantonly destroyed including being razed or set ablaze; and as if these were not enough, millions of South-East voters were denied PVCs by INEC under the Lagos REC in the just conducted PVC distribution in the State.
"Totality of these is therefore tantamount to ethnic profiling with intent instigate incitement to genocide and ethnic cleansing against the South-East residents in Lagos State.
“Intersociety hereby makes bold to say that the Lagos REC is unfit to continue as Lagos REC and must be redeployed as a matter of uttermost immediacy. INEC must also thoroughly investigate REC Olusegun Agbaje including looking into massive denial of PVCs to South-Easterners in Lagos State including Igbo residents in Oshodi-Isolo, Mafoluku-Oke Afa, Ijora Badia, Amukoko, Alaba, Surulere, Orile, Itire, Ijesha, Cele, Okota, Ajugunle, Olodi Apapa, Coconut, Ojokoro-Ijaye, Agbara, Ojo, Okoko, Satellite Town, FESTAC, Mushin, Ojuelegba, etc."
However, in the letter, titled: "2022/2023 PVC Distribution: 13 Critical Questions INEC Must Urgently And Publicly Answer," Intersociety said it sought the public explanation of the PVC distribution from the electoral umpire on behalf of tens of millions of conscionable Nigerians, adding that the explanation became necessary ahead of "all-important Feb. 25, 2023 Presidential Poll."
In the letter made available to SaharaReporters, on Monday, which was signed by its principal officers - Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chinwe Umeche, Obianuju Joy and Chidinma Udegbunam, Intersociety maintained that the urgent letter was part of its priceless advocacy geared towards deepening democracy including inclusive election and popular participation in credible democratic process in Nigeria or any part thereof.
"Intersociety, therefore, minces no word to the effect that under Your Commission’s watch, millions of citizens of voting age of full blood Nigerian citizenship have been denied voting right by not being captured as voters and issued with permanent voters’ cards.
"Under INEC’s Watch, too, especially ahead of the Feb 25, 2023 Presidential Poll, there have been massive and unchecked reports of personal data theft and destruction, diversion and impersonation of the registered citizens and citizens-under-registration’s PVCs or personal data supplied to INEC.”