The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum has raised alarm alleging that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is registering foreigners, especially from Niger Republic, to pave the way for electoral malpractices in 2019.
The forum stated this in a communique made available to journalists on Sunday.
The communiqué was signed by Yinka Odumakin (South-West), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South), Prof. Chigozie Ogbu (South-East) and Dr. Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt).
The leaders from the Middle Belt, South South, South East and South West met in Lagos on Friday.
The Forum alleged that registration of foreigners could be one of the reasons why the Federal Government was in a haste to construct a rail from Kano through Dambatta, Kazaure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina, Jibia and terminate in Maradi in Niger Republic.
The leaders, who expressed concern about the 2019 general elections, restated their demand for the suspension of the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, pending the investigation of the underage voter scandal in Kano.
They restated their lack of confidence in the INEC chairman “whose conduct over the scandal of underage voters in Kano has shown a gross betrayal of public trust”
They said intelligence report at their disposal had shown that INEC was registering Nigeriens and other foreigners for the purpose of voting in the 2019 elections.
They stated: “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.”
The leaders also recalled that the INEC chairman assured Nigerians that alleged underage voter scam in Kano would be fully investigated.
They said in the communique: “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.”
To ensure equity, they also demanded 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”.