30 CSOs Want Umahi, INEC Officials Investigated over Alleged Forgery of BVAS Report


It has emerged that a syndicate may be operating within the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and actively helping desperate politicians to undermine the electoral process.

A coalition of 30 civil society organisations(CoS) raised the alarm at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday June 20, 2023, saying that the syndicate was producing fake BVAS report for politicians whose electoral mandates are being challenged in court.

They sounded the alarm bell based on what has been coming out from the tribunal where the outcome of the 2023 national election are being challenged.

Said the CSOs: “Case in point is the Ebonyi State National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal where the immediate past governor of Ebonyi State/Senator for Ebonyi South Senatorial District, Engr David Nweze Umahi, has been accused of presenting a forged CTC of the BVAS Accreditation Report and Compliance Certificate to the Tribunal in defense of cases challenging his election.

“The concern is that a cartel may be operating within the INEC headquarters and conniving with desperate politicians to churn out fake/forged documents of the Commission, as in this instance, with the intent to pervert justice at the ongoing election tribunals across the country.

“The import of such a criminal conspiracy is grave on the integrity of the eventual judicial decisions and the overall development of a credible electoral process in the country”.

The CSOs, whose focal areas is anti-corruption were emboldened in their claim of an in-house carrel at INEC following the denial by the electoral body that it did not issue the supposedly certified true copy of BVAS report.

They pointed out that the activities of the cartel was pervasive because “there were allegations against INEC on issuance of conflicting Certified True Copy of the same electoral documents to parties in the same petitions before Election Petition Tribunals across the country”.

Forged BVAS report could compromise tribunal verdicts, the CSOs warn.

INEC had in controversial circumstances declared Umahi, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), winner of the Ebonyi South Senatorial poll even though the two federal constituencies in the zone were shared between Labour Party and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Dissatisfied with the perceived dubious outcome of the February 15, 2023 Ebonyi South Senatorial poll, the LP candidate, Hon. Linus Okorie filed a petition at the Tribunal challenging the poll result.

Aside from Okorie, the candidate of the PDP,  Sen. Michael Amah Nnachi and his counterpart in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Sir. Ifeanyi Eleje have equally filed petitions at the Tribunal.

The aggrieved candidates are presently at the tribunal challenging the victory INEC had, in a curious turn of events, awarded to Umahi.

The CSOs at the press conference stated that they had taken a comprehensive review of the economic, social and political situations of Nigeria before coming out to raise the alarm.

According to them, the activities of the syndicate in INEC issuing forged CTC of BVAS report and desperados in politics, were inimical to the growth of Nigeria’s democracy.

Referencing a petition Okorie wrote to the police, the anti-corruption CSOs noted that “Umahi was alleged to have procured the said BVAS Report and Certificate of Compliance from the ICT department of the INEC Headquarters”.

“However, by a letter attached to the petition, the CTC Report and Compliance Certificate were denied by the Secretary to the Commission as not authentic; in other words, not from the Commission”.

Therefore, the CSOs jointly called on security agencies to launch “immediate and comprehensive” investigation into the allegations against Umahi bordering on criminal conspiracies to forge INEC documents in order to be declared winner of the Ebonyi South Senatorial election.

“We Call for immediate and comprehensive investigation of the petition mentioned by the police to unravel the identities of any cartel in INEC engaging in the criminal manipulation of official documents and to ensure the prosecution of anyone indicted.

“All these have destroyed the hope and confidence of citizens in the commitment, independence and competence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct free, fair and credible elections. This is a major impediment to the growth of our democracy,” the groups jointly stated.

The CSOs that lent their voices to the call for investigation of the criminal elements undermining the nation’s democracy include,
Accountability Lab Nigeria, African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), BudgIT Foundation, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre(CISLAC), Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Resource Centre For Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED).

Also in the coalition are Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Transition Monitoring Group (TMG),
Women in Media Communication Initiative
(WIM), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Femi Falana Chamber, International Center for Investigative Journalism/ Premium Times, among others.