The Eastern Bar Forum in it first Quarterly Meeting at Uyo, Akwa Ibom has criticized the just concluded 2023 General elections as being marred by substantial irregularities.
In a communique signed by its Governor, Chief Uba Anene, the Forum demanded the conduct of a rerun election to be organised by a freshly constituted electoral commission.
COMMUNIQUE OF THE EASTERN BAR FORUM ON THE 2023 GENERAL ELECTIONS.
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At the conclusion of its first Quarterly meeting at Uyo, Akwa Ibom State on Saturday, 25th March, 2023 the Eastern Bar Forum (EBF) passed the following Resolutions on the State of the Nation.
1. That the 2023 general elections was marred with so much irregularities and violence, especially in Lagos and Rivers State, that any announced outcome could not reasonably be accepted as an expression of the sovereign will of Nigerian citizens obtained in a free and fair poll.
2. That the open and brazen disenfranchisement of Nigerian citizens from a particular ethnic group and, unfortunately, any others that looked like them by primitive, brutal physical violence aimed at their persons, properties and businesses in places such as Lagos State casts a serious cloud over the legitimacy of any outcome of the purported elections.
3. That INEC’s inexplicable abandonment of its own guidelines, promises and even the Electoral Act 2022 midway through the elections cast a justified cloud of suspicion on the integrity of the conduct of the elections as well as on its purported outcome.
4. That the mere dismissal of the failure of a fundamental aspect of the transparency and integrity of the Presidential elections by the contrived failure of the BVAS upload of Presidential Polling Unit Results as a ‘technical glitch’ does not ring true at all but strongly suggests a deliberate sabotage of the system, especially since the National Assembly elections polling unit results were easily uploaded to the INEC portal at the same material time.
5. That apart from the notoriously flawed 1983 elections and Professor Maurice Iwu’s 2007 electoral charade, Nigeria has not had an election in its recent electoral history as embarrassing as the 2023 general elections.
6. That it may be understandable and forgivable for one who only observed the process from the casting of ballots to the announcement of results at the Polling Units to describe the 2023 elections as fairly free and fair. To continue to do so after witnessing the troubling incidents that started thereafter; from the strange inability to upload Polling Unit Results for the Presidential polls while those of the House of Representatives and Senate polls, conducted on the same date and time, went swimmingly well, is to call into question the motive and objectivity of the individual or group.
7. That a system that permitted the uploading and transmission of the House of Representatives and Senate Polling Unit Results but adamantly rebuffed the uploading of the Presidential Polling Unit Results at the same time cannot be explained away as a mere technical glitch. Nigerians deserve a more plausible explanation for the strange development.
8. That we cannot pretend not to know that Nigeria’s 2023 elections is but the butt of jokes in the International Press with the Washington Post quoting Mathew Page of Chatham House’s Africa Program as accusing INEC of making both deliberate and unintentional mistakes and Aljazeera running a program titled ‘How violence robs Nigerians of their votes.’
9. That the EBF is outraged by the violence and ethnic hatred incited by members of the ruling party and deployed against the Igbo people living in Lagos, a part of their own fatherland, for the purpose of denying them their constitutional rights to vote for candidates of their own choice and preference.
10. That our ethnic and religious fault lines was laid bare by the different reactions and interpretations of the 2023 elections, even within our professional body. While this can be expected and even excused at times, we should not thereby close our eyes and minds to the need for a fact based enquiry into an objective truth with regard to what actually transpired in the 2023 elections which left Nigerians shocked, confused and traumatised.
11. In view of the foregoing, the EBF is of the firm view that the 2023 general elections was fatally flawed and its announced outcome does not in any way, shape or form reflect the will of the citizens of Nigeria expressed in a free, fair, transparent and credible election and should therefore be cancelled and a rerun under a new, truly independent electoral body to be composed of men/women of integrity nominated in equal numbers by the four largest political parties in Nigeria.
Chief Uba Anene,
Governor, Eastern Bar Forum.