The All Progressives Congress, APC, has said that the delay by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in distributing the permanent voters cards to registered voters in the Osun State ahead of the August 9 governorship election might be a ploy to disenfranchise voters.
The party’s national publicity secretary, Lai Mohammed, said the slow processing of the permanent cards is frustrating voters in the state who keep visiting INEC offices only to be told that the cards are not ready, without any indication of when they would be ready for collection.
This is even as the commission announced that anyone who does not possess a permanent voters card before the set date will not be allowed to vote.
“INEC has been painfully slow in processing the permanent voters cards, and one can only hope that the electoral body is not doing this deliberately to disenfranchise voters, especially in opposition strongholds,” Mohammed said.
The APC urged the electoral body to remain neutral in the forthcoming election and to ensure it does not do anything that will affect the credibility of the commission or the integrity of the poll.
The party recalled that a few days before the Ekiti governorship election on June 19, the INEC chairman, Attahiru Jega, told stakeholders that the commission would use colour-code ballot papers to ensure that ballots meant for one local government are not taken to another.
It noted, however, that not only did INEC not use colour-coded ballot papers in the election, it never felt the need to explain its last minute change of plans, adding that the action is a blow to the integrity of the electoral commission.
The party also raised alarm over what it described as “a multi-pronged strategy by the federal authorities to skew the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Osun State favour of the PDP, just like they did in Ekiti State last month”.
It said the strategy by the federal authorities involves using the military and other security agencies to lock down the state days ahead of voting as well as an ongoing starving of the state of funds so it cannot meet its obligations.
“Whereas Ekiti was locked down about three days to the election in the state, indications are that Osun will be locked down at least a week before the state’s poll, while the security agencies will again be used to harass, intimidate and arrest opposition politicians just like they did with impunity in Ekiti,” it said.
The APC, therefore, demanded a level playing field for all the candidates before, during and after the Osun election and called on local and international observers to take note of all anomalies all through the electoral process.