UHS’s Response to Hon. (Mrs.) Irene Imilar’s Claim on
INEC’s Voter Registration for Delta State Governorship Re-run Election of January 6, 2011
In a paid advertisement in Vanguard of March 3, 2011, Hon. (Mrs.) Irene Imilar, Member of Delta State House of Assembly for Warri North, faulted Urhobo Historical Society (UHS) for its analysis of the recent Governorship re-run election in Delta State that was published in the Vanguard issue of February 28, 2011. The point of contention for Mrs. Imilar concerns the voter registration figure of 37,444 for Warri North LGA that was employed by UHS in its analysis. The claim by UHS that has irked Hon. (Mrs.) Imilar is as follows: “We see that Warri North has voter turnout rate of 100.4%. In actual numbers, INEC credited Warri North in 2007 with 37,444 registered voters. On January 6, 2011, INEC awarded Warri North a total of 37,609 votes. Assuming that no registered voters died in the interval of almost four years between 2007 and 2011 and assuming no registered voter escaped the political turmoil in Warri North, INEC would still have to account for a surplus number of 165 votes.”
It is fair to ask, as Hon. Imilar does, from where UHS obtained these figures. INEC published the voting figures of the re-run election and they are widely available in the public domain. But we see no publication of the voter registration. We in UHS tried in vain to obtain voter registration figures from published sources, including INEC’s Web site. However, we were able to obtain voter registration figures for Delta State’s LGAs, including Warri North, that INEC issued to political parties on January 3, 2011 -- 3 days before the re-run election. That is how we received these figures, including 37,444 for Warri North LGA, from agents of Democratic Peoples’ Party (DPP).
Since Mrs. Imilar’s challenge, we have asked the DPP’s source from which UHS obtained INEC’s voter registration data to specify how it received these data from INEC. We now quote its specification as follows: “1. A CD-ROM [containing voter registration data] was received on Monday, January 3, 2011 from the Administrative Secretary of INEC (Delta State), Mr. Timmy Koroye. 2. The CD was received by Chief Lance Orhierhor on behalf of Democratic Peoples’ Party (Delta State) in his capacity as State Secretary of the party. 3. This particular CD contains Registers of Voters for 11 LGAs, viz., Oshimili South, Patani, Sapele, Udu, Ughelli North, Ughelli South, Ukwuani, Uvwie, Warri North, Warri South and Warri South West, in that order. 4. The CD is deemed to be the "cleaned copy" [that is, authenticated or approved version] of the original register promised by the National Chairman of INEC, Prof. Atahiru Jega, for the Re-run Election.” This is the chain of custody of our data.
Against these ample facts of time, place, and persons must be weighed Hon. Imilar’s terse claim that “the officially released INEC registered voters for Warri North in the 2006 registration exercise is 58,911.” We must ask: Who released the data; when were they released; and to whom were they released? How many other people have had access to this “official” registration information? Why is it not published in INEC’s official Web site? Why is it kept secret from the public?
Such questions are pertinent and urgent because of the controversies that INEC itself aroused on the matter of voter registration in the weeks preceding the re-run election of January 6, 2011. It refused to embark on fresh voter registration for this re-run election, thus rejecting demands from opposition parties. Nor did INEC wholly side with the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) which wanted the existing registers of voters to be used for the re-run election without further processing. Instead, INEC “cleaned” up errors from the registers of voters, before releasing its approved registers of voters on January 3, 2011, to contending political parties. In our view, it is from these approved or authenticated registers, released 3 days before the re-run election, that analysts of the election should obtain their figures of voter registration. That is what UHS did. The question for Mrs. Imilar is this: from where did she obtain her mysterious figure of 58,911 for Warri North LGA?
We note that Mrs. Imilar in her paid advertisement questioned our motivation for carrying out the analysis of the re-run election. We want to state as clearly as we can that we in UHS regard the right of Nigerians to vote for candidates of their choice as their inalienable right of citizenship without which they would be nothing more than enslaved peoples. It is our worry that that right is being taken away from our people of Delta State. In the elections of 2007, we all heard horror stories of men and women who lined up for hours to vote but were denied their right to exercise a crucial citizenship right. And yet it was later publicly announced by INEC officials that the people voted, thus insulting the people who knew that they did not vote. We believe the finding of the Appeals Court that pronounced that there was no voting in the Governorship election of 2007 in Delta State was extraordinary. In these circumstances, any patriotic organization should do its best to ensure that INEC officials are held accountable for their official conduct in protecting a major right of our people. This is why UHS decided to carry out the analysis of the re-run election of January 6, 2011.
Our analysis was for all the 25 LGAs of Delta State. Our results revealed two strange patterns to which INEC officials should pay full attention, if they take their work seriously. First, the voter turnout in the urban centres of large population of Delta State was miserable. According to our results, there was very little voting in the cities of Asaba, Agbor, Ogwashi-Uku, Warri, Sapele, and Ughelli. Second, the voting in the southward riverine areas, which had suffered from depopulation in recent times, appears to be abnormally high – with the alleged voter turnout in Warri North LGA being the most incredible. UHS believes that these are serious issues for which INEC should be held accountable. They are matters that cannot be brushed aside with threats of intimidation or covered up with name-calling.
It is a shame that such simple and elementary facts as registers of voters should be the subject of any disputes. If INEC did its work competently and properly, we all would have the same set of voter registration data. We in UHS are confident that our figures came from INEC on January 3, 2011, and were properly understood to be authenticated registers of voters in Delta State’s LGAs. All we in Urhobo Historical Society want and, indeed, demand is proper and truthful service from INEC, including its Delta State office. It is clear that at the present time the Delta State office of INEC has degenerated into a cesspool of misinformation. It is entirely possible that Mrs. Imilar’s figure of 58,911 for Warri North LGA is nothing more than a casualty of Delta State INEC’s misinformation. In any case, Mrs. Imilar has a responsibility to tell the Delta State public how she obtained her figure of 58,911 which is not available to anyone else. We should note, however, that even if it were possible that her figure of 58,911 is correct, thus yielding a voter turnout rate of 64% for Warri North LGA, such a result would be so abnormally high and so much a deviation from the mean as to be statistically improbable. Simply put, in the circumstances of the recent re-run election in Delta State, the figure from the Honourable Member makes no sense. INEC may also wish to be straightforward and tell the simple truth about these figures. Every Nigerian has a right to such truth.
behalf of Urhobo Historical Society:
Peter P. Ekeh, PhD
Isaac James Mowoe, PhD, JD
Onoawarie Edevbie, MA, MSc
March 6, 2011