The All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Imo State chapter, has suggested ways of ensuring a hitch free local government election devoid of rigging and manipulation.
The Imo State Independent Electoral Commission, ISIEC, had announced March 2022 for the conduct of local government election in Imo State.
In its submission to ISIEC, Chairman, APGA, Imo State, Mr John Iwuala, suggested “three stages for a strong legislative frameworks, which if strictly adhered to and put into action, implementation and practice, will reduce the level of electoral malpractices, mutilation of election results and massive rigging which have marred the process in the past.”
According to him, the three legislative frameworks are pre election stage, the election stage, and the post election stage
Giving more insight on the party’s recommendations, Iwuala, who also doubles as the Publicity Secretary of IPAC, said under the pre election stage, ISIEC, should among other things ensure “that there is a very strong legislative framework for the conduct of the said LG Council elections considering the lingering court cases on same subject matter”
“The commission must produce a standard guideline for the conduct of the said election, a guideline and code of conduct for security agents on election duty” it stated
Such guidelines, the party noted should also be made “available to security agents, political parties, election monitors/observers and all candidates’ participation in the said election”
It stated further “ ISIEC shall organize expanded meetings with political party leaders, CSOs, heads of various security agencies, candidates for said elections, Town Union heads and community leaders before the election for proper education in the conduct of the election and enlightenment for mass participation.
“ISIEC must embark on strong public enlightenment programs through radio stations, newspapers, television stations and as well the social media on voter education and strict compliance with electoral guidelines and code of conduct for the election
“The Commission must ensure that every participating political party and their aspirants must strictly comply with the ISIEC guidelines in the conduct of their various party primaries
“The Commission must ensure that the state Government and the ruling APC party do not in any way interfere with and or hijack the process of nomination and recruitment of adhoc staff for the election.
At the election stage, APGA advised ISIEC to “Make inclusive in the electoral guidelines and code of conduct that a conducive atmosphere must be provided for all participating political party agent at various polling booths and collation centers.
It stated “No security agent is expected to victimize any agent of any participating political party, and all agents to be accorded same recognition and accreditation at every level.
The statement continued “ISIEC must ensure that every polling booth results be announced at the end of collation and counting right there at the poling units and same pasted therein for public consumption, while agents of political parties must be allowed to sign and collect their duplicate copies of the result sheets before proceeding to ward collation centers.
“ ISIEC to ensure that every ward results be declared at the ward levels and such declarations as regards the election of Councillorship stands as final declaration. No further declaration of Councillorship elections results at the LGA collation centers.
“ISIEC must ensure that all party collation agents are allowed to freely monitor the situation room where ward and LGA collations are made. This must be applicable to booths, wards and LGA collation centers. No security agent should allow himself to be used to bully or intimidate any agent of any political party.
“The Commission must lay down strict warnings and penalties against any of it’s staff, adhoc staff and or security agent found in contravention of the electoral guidelines and code of conduct of the election and or seen aiding or abetting criminal elements/activities aimed at manipulating, obstructing and or rigging results of election at any stage of collation
On the post election stage, Imo APGA suggested the set up of “ Local Government elections Tribunals and Appeal panel as well as distance itself from undue influence in the proceedings therefrom.
“ ISIEC must make the Commission readily available to release every information as requested from the commission and release same to aggrieved candidates and or political parties who may wish to approach the Tribunals for litigation on the conduct and declaration of election results without waiting for instructions from the Government.
“ The Commission must be law abiding as to obey judgments and orders of the courts in case it is being ordered to issue a certificate of return to a litigant who wins his/her case” the statement stated.