Rights group condemns call for election postponement

THE Human Rights Agenda Network (HRAN) has condemned the calls for postponement of the February 14 and 28 general elections.

Instead, it urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to go ahead with its preparation for the elections.

In a statement in Abuja and endorsed by HRAN Coordinator, Melissa Omene, the group, comprising 330 civil society organisations in Nigeria, said it considered the calls for postponement of the elections as unnecessary.

“The election calendar has been fixed for over a year now and INEC has demonstrated its preparedness to conduct credible elections by making efforts to see that every registered voter gets his or her Permanent Voter Card before the election date,” said Chino Obiagwu, chair of the steering committee of the network.

“INEC has extended the collection date to February 8. All the citizens need to do is to go to their designated collection centres and collect their cards.”

He stated that HRAN is concerned that any shift in the election timetable would adversely affect Nigeria’s democratic process and may result in deep legal and political crises.

His words: “No cogent reasons have been given by those calling for election postponement.

“The state of insecurity in the Northeast region is not a sufficient reason to postpone the election because there is no guarantee that the security situation will improve in the coming weeks and months.

“To postpone the elections for reasons of insecurity is to postpone indefinitely. Clearly, postponement is no solution to insecurity.”

The group said the failure of many registered voters to collect their PVCs was not also sufficient reason because “INEC has said it is ready to continue to distribute the cards till the eve of the elections.”

“HRAN commends INEC for demonstrating considerable improvement in the preparations for the elections and in its articulated and fair response to the challenges of the short period of time for production and distribution of PVCs,” he said.

“HRAN urges INEC to adopt bold measures to ensure distribution of the PVCs to all registered voters before February 14.”

Noting that INEC enjoys public confidence based on demonstrated transparency of its leadership, “but INEC must also demonstrate administrative competence and design an effective distribution system, including within camps of internally displaced persons,” the group said.

“HRAN calls on the state and federal governments to declare a day, within this week, a public holiday to give public servants the opportunity to travel to their PVC collection centres.”