Former Commissioner for Land and Survey in Benue State, John Tondo, has on behalf of his council ward and five others in Guma local government area of Benue State, threatened to drag the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court if it fails to register about 120,000 displaced persons in camps within 21 days.
According to the letter dated September 24, 2021, sent to the INEC titled, “Continued Disenfranchisement of Internally Displaced Persons From Guma Local Government Area of Benue State” said that about 120,000 people from Uvir, Mbadwem, Mbabai, Mbayer-Yandev, Mbawa and Nyiev were allegedly disenfranchised.
Tondo said that the people from the six council wards who were sacked from their acenstral homes were denied voter registration in 2019, adding that the displaced persons were being denied in the recent voter registration exercise.
According to the ex-commissioner,”these people were sacked from their homes by armed marauders and for a long time, they have been living in Internally Displaced Persons’ camps (IDP camps) in Benue State.
“I have the mandate of the aforesaid internally displaced persons and my people, in general, to bring to your immediate attention for necessary action, the fact that the IDP camps in Benue State and their inhabitants are being completely shut out of our country’s political process because they are not part of the ongoing continuous voters’ registration exercise.
“As you are well aware, voting and being voted for are at the heart of a democratic system of government. The rights to vote and to be voted for also constitute inalienable human rights recognized by the Nigerian Constitution and the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights. It is in furtherance of these rights that the extant Electoral Act provides for continuous voters’ registration and constant updating of the voters’ register by INEC.
“It is INEC that bears the constitutional and statutory responsibilities of ensuring that Nigerians of voting age, including the internally displaced persons, are registered as voters and are not disenfranchised through the discriminatory implementation of INEC policies.”
Tondo explained that no special arrangement had been made to ensure their registration as voters and the inclusion of their names in the updated voters’ register.
Tondo who appealed to the INEC to ensure the registration of the displaced persons in the camps also said “if no special arrangements are put in place by INEC within 21 days we shall be constrained to have recourse to the judicial system and take legal steps to ensure that the commission is compelled to register and include in the voters’ register every Nigerian citizen from the aforementioned council wards in the IDP camps in Benue State.”