ELECTION 2019: WOMEN GROUPS PROTEST AT INEC HEADQUARTERS, OPPOSE MILITARY INVOLVEMENT IN ELECTIONS

Some women groups on Wednesday, March 6 marched to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Abuja ahead of the Saturday, March 9 governorship and state assembly election in various states of the federation.

The groups under the auspices of Save Democracy Women, cautioned that the governorship elections must not be postponed and also warned against militarization of the exercise.

Led by May Ubeku, convener, Impact Future Nigeria, the women carried placards with various inscriptions to press home their demands.

Some of the placards read:’Let our votes count’, ‘Nepotism must stop’, ‘Restore our stolen mandate’, ‘Steal our votes, steal our future’, ‘No place for tyranny in modern democracy’, ‘Save our democracy’, ‘Black cloud over Nigeria’ among others.

While stressing that the police remains the lead agency for election security and calling on the army to steer clear of Polling Units, Ubeku attributed the low voters turnout in some parts of the country in the February 23 election to high presence of military.

Her words: “Unfortunately, these military men helped President Buhari to rig the presidential election for him to come back.

We condemn in totality the involvement of military in our elections. During the just concluded elections, people were killed.

The election was a total charade because they were video and pictorial evidence of people screaming for their lives, soldiers were harassing and shooting people.

In 2015, there were court judgements in Abuja, Sokoto and Lagos – two federal high court judgements and one Court of Appeal judgement – against the involvement of the military that the president had no powers to involve the military in the elections.

But few days to the 2019 elections, the president categorically said the military should shoot anybody that will pick ballot boxes.

Though we are not supporting those who will sn*tch ballot boxes but that pronouncement caused a lot of rancour as military men harassed, intimidated voters.”

She also presented a petition to INEC in which the group alleged that the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly election was characterised by violence, arson, harassment, intimidation and vandalism.

The group listed incidences of military personnel deployment and intimidation by political thugs in various states that led to loss of lives in the last election to include: Rivers, Lagos, Kogi, Delta, Bayelsa among others.

Speaking on behalf of the INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, assistant director of safety at the commission, Kelechi Mmaduneme, commended the women for their peaceful conduct, even as he assured that the issues raised in the petition would be addressed by the electoral body.

The protest comes a day after the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), protested at the headquarters of the electoral body, rejecting the results of the just concluded presidential election.

Uche Secondus, PDP national chairman, led thousands of party supporters to stage a protest at the commission’s office located at Maitama at about 3pm.

The party leaders and members in the exercise were chanting solidarity songs in front of the INEC office amid heavy security.

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