50 varsity Vice-Chancellors, Professors, 34 others implicated for rigging 2023 general elections
By KENNETH ONYEKWERE, ABAKILIKI
The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) says it has found 50 top Nigerian university professors who played various conspiratorial roles in rigging and voter suppression in the 25th February Presidential/National Assembly and the 18th March 2023 Governorship/State Houses of Assembly elections.
Among the 50 university professors conspiratorially or vicariously involved are 34 Vice Chancellors and a Deputy Vice-Chancellor drawn from Federal, State and Private Universities across the country.
Apart from the 50 culpably or conspiratorially involved Nigerian University Professors, there are also 34 others involved; including ten Doctorate Degree holders and others former top military, police and spy police officers and former ministers and Government Commissioners including Engineer Olufemi Odunbiyi, former Commissioner for Science and Technology in Lagos State and APC chieftain who was recently placed in charge of INEC ICT as Director.
There are also 17 university professors among the 37 INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioners and 12 National Commissioners widely or publicly accused of coordinating the 2023 armada of electoral fraud.
Generally speaking, a total of 88 university professors and other experts are found to be conspiratorially or vicariously involved out of the number, only four are exempted and worthy to be celebrated as heroes of Democracy in Nigeria or any part thereof,” Intersociety said in a statement issued in Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria, yesterday, Sunday, March 26, 2023.
The frontline rights group in the statement signed by Board Chair Emeka Umeagbalasi; Head, Campaign and Publicity Department, Chidinma Udegbunam Esquire, Head, Contacts and Mobilization Department, Ositadinma Agu; and Head, International Justice and Human Rights, Ndidiamaka Chinaza Bernard Esquire, however, exonerated some of the academics who presided over the controversial 2023 elections.
According to it, “Exempted from the culpability list are Vice-Chancellors of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Prof Charles Esimone, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State, Prof Nnenna Otti, Michael Okpara Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State, Prof Maduebibisi Ofo Iwe and Resident Electoral Commissioner for Abia State, Prof Ike Uzochukwu. VC Esimone of UNIZIK was exempted on account of his doggedness and refusal to compromise the results of the Presidential Poll in Imo State where he served as the ‘State Collation Officer’.
His refusal to compromise also pitched him against the State Government and the Commissioner of Police. Nnenna Otti of FUTO, Owerri was outstanding in her handling of the Abia State Governorship Election of 18th March 2023 where she served as ‘Collation Officer’. Even at the risk of her life and liberty, she remained adamant about truth and in the end, her resilience and resistance triumphed. VC Maduebibisi Iwe of Umudike Agric University was exempted for being resolute and refusing to compromise the Nkanu East doctored results in the Enugu State Governorship of 18th March 2023 where he served as “Collation Officer”.
Intersociety also gathered that the erudite and courageous VC held his ground at INEC Headquarters during the “review” and back in Enugu; he still held his ground until the results were corruptly announced against his will. REC Prof Ike Uzochukwu as Abia REC is singled out for exemption on account of his courage and refusal to compromise the results of the State’s Senatorial and House of Reps poll leading to ‘his executive captivity’ until after the announcement of the results at gunpoint using an INEC Admin official.
Abia REC’s ‘executive abduction’ was blamed on the Abia State Police Command and the State DSS Directorate. On regaining his liberty, Abia REC Prof Uzochukwu addressed the media and disclosed that “some candidates announced as winners were not the real winners of the poll”.
Intersociety noted in the statement that “a society where university vcs/professors have become election riggers is irreparably doomed”.
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It said: “By direct perpetrators, they are unlawful conducts direct perpetrators that order, supervise and execute the unlawful acts such as coordination of election rigging or voter suppression and facilitation or supervision of the destruction of evidence to cover up the unlawful acts. By vicarious liability or responsibility, it is the inescapable responsibility of the superiors for the acts of their subordinates or, the responsibility of any third party that had the “right, ability or duty to control the activities of a violator or a perpetrator, but failed or declined to do same.”
It is also a liability assigned to an employer or other principal for his agent’s or employee’s acts performed in the course of employment or other duty. The two definitions above aptly capture the involvement in the referenced armada of electoral fraud, of the Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, the Commission’s National Commissioner for Voter Education, Festus Okoye Esquire and its serving 12 National Commissioners and 37 State Resident Commissioners and Director of ICT as well as the Commission’s hired 37 ad hoc States and FCT Collation Officers. Intersociety is deeply worried that Nigeria has become a country where university vice-chancellors and professors engage in brazen election rigging and widespread suppression of voters.
The damage done to Nigerian universities and their students as well as the country’s corporate image is also gravely irreparable. The rigger professors and experts involved deserve nothing less than international visa bans and international movement and exchange programs’ restrictions in Europe, North and South America and democratic South-East Asian countries.”
The rights group, which attached the names of the alleged compromising electoral officers (withheld by News Express), said it saw what happened coming “when APC apologists and integrity challenged others became RECs in 2022”.
It said: “The road to the current messy situation at INEC became well noticed following the flooding of the INEC’s list of Electoral Commissioners (14 new RECs and 5 reappointed others) with APC apologists and integrity-challenged others.
President Buhari had on 26th July 2022 forwarded the list to the Senate for confirmation. Critics and activists raised serious concerns over the inclusion of such integrity-challenged persons as RECs in brazen violation of paragraph 14 (2a) of the Third Schedule to Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution and Section 2 (3) of the INEC Establishment Act of 2004.
According to the Constitutional Paragraph 14 (2a): “a Resident Electoral Commissioner shall be non-partisan and a person of unquestionable integrity” and by Section 2 (3) of the INEC Establishment Act, 2004: “the Chairman and members of the Commission (INEC) shall be non-partisan and persons of unquestionable character”.
According to informed critics, among the card-carrying APC members and apologists nominated as Resident Electoral Commissioners are: Muhammad Lawal Bashir, a 2015 APC governorship aspirant in Sokoto State; Pauline Onyeka Ugochi, a former head of INEC’s ICT in Imo State publicly accused of corruption and conniving with politicians in undermining elections; Elizabeth Queen Agwu, a former Accountant General of Ebonyi State reportedly suspended in 2016 for corruption and incompetence; and Prof Uchenna Sylvia Agu, an Enugu State APC nominee and younger sister of the current APC National Deputy Chairman for South-East Region.
Criticism against them and others were part of the findings by some Civil Society Organizations ‘working for the promotion of Democracy in Nigeria’ as contained in their recent press conference addressed by the Director of Int’l Press Centre, Mr Lanre Arogundade. The CSOs critic include Yiaga Africa, the Kukah Centre, Int’l Press Center, the Centre for Media and Society, the Albino Foundation, Elect Her, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Partners for Electoral Reforms and Inclusive Friends Association.”
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