KADUNA – People of Igbo extraction in the 19 northern states have been banned from travelling to their states of origin to vote in next year’s general elections.
Any person who flouts the directive would be fined an undisclosed amount of money.
The decision was reached following an extraordinary meeting of the Igbo Delegates Assembly (IDA) in Barnawa, Kaduna State.
IDA, an administrative umbrella organisation of Igbo resident in the northern states and Abuja, is responsible for members’ welfare. In attendance were executives, all Eze Ndigbos and chapter presidents in the 19 states.
“We want our people to stay in their respective states and cast their votes. The era of running home during elections cannot be tolerated again. There is no need for us to go home at every election because if you do that you will automatically disenfranchise yourself.
“We have done a lot of sensitisation. We have also educated our people on this and we all agreed. That is why we decided to place an embargo. And if you travel, IDA will fine such person(s),” the organisation said in a statement jointly signed by President General Chief Chikezie Nwogu and Secretary General Austin Ofokansi Ifedinezi.
The Assembly also urged members to remain law-abiding in their states of residence.
Meanwhile, a non-governmental organisation, the African Electoral Integrity Initiative (AE2i) has unveiled ways to guarantee integrity in the elections.
The NGO at the National Conference on Electoral Integrity organised in Abuja yesterday with the theme: ‘Sustaining the Integrity of the 2019 General Elections’ said a good election is hinged on fairness and a level playing ground for all.
Speaking at the event, Prof. Yusuf Zoaka, Dean Faculty of Social Science, University of Abuja, in his presentation titled, ‘Principles of Electoral Integrity’, highlighted ethical conduct, professionalism and accuracy as criteria for successful poll.
Prof. Zoaka, who was represented by Dr Agaba Halidu, a lecturer at the university, maintained that for Nigeria to have an election with integrity, factors such as enforcement, transparency and respect for the rule of law must be upheld.
He advised politicians to shun hate speeches that could breed violent campaigns, and INEC to remain impartial to avoid voter apathy and rejection of results.
Mr. Mohammed Baba, Commissioner in charge of Education at the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), said vote buying has become a threat to democracy, hence all efforts must be made to curb it.
He disclosed that ICPC would embark on a nationwide sensitisation programme this month to change people’s attitude towards the practice.
Dr Daniel Omofoman, Convener and Regional Director (West Africa) of AE2i, said: “The conference is aimed at sensitising stakeholders to the need to sustain the integrity of the 2019 elections and restoring voter confidence in the integrity of officials, voting procedure and materials used in the election. We believe more is coming on solutions that will resolve these issues,”
He added that other issues threatening the integrity of the elections include under- age voting, fake news and partisan law enforcement.