Edo INEC REC, Sinikiem reaping the fruits of his electoral misconduct
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Edo INEC REC, Sinikiem reaping the fruits of his electoral misconduct

Elections are the cornerstone of democracy. Sound electoral laws, systems and processes guarantee the conduct of a free, credible and fair election, ensuring the emergence of legitimate and democratically elected government that is responsive and accountable to citizens.

This is why umpires who superintend the process of selection for this endearing participatory system of government are persons believed and seen within the public prism as above aboard.

This means that they must not be partial, parochial and corrupt. They are at all times expected and should be seen and perceived to uphold the tenets of integrity, patriotism and professionalism, in line with the mandate of the electoral commission for the conduct of credible polls, especially in a multi-ethnic setting like Nigeria.

 It is against this background that the invitation by the police of Edo State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. Johnson Alalibo Sinikiem, for complicity in a case of forgery becomes highly disturbing in the face of what his enviable office is constitutionally and morally mandated to discharge.

The electoral umpire was picked for allegations forgery, conspiracy and unlawful assembly. His arrest followed a petition by the Edo State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Anthony Aziegbemi, to the Police Command, wherein he accused the INEC REC of forging primary election results, which a faction of the party tendered in filling cases at the Federal High Courts in Abuja and Edo State.

Sinikiem was said to have been induced by external elements within the Edo PDP, muddling up the electoral process and disregarding INEC’s guidelines on how elections should be conducted to perfect the play of his paymasters.

According to the petition dated 20th July, 2022, and addressed to the Edo State Commissioner of Police, Aziegbemi, the Edo PDP chairman said, “In preparation towards the conduct of the 2023 general elections, political parties are mandated under the Electoral Act to conduct congresses and primaries. It was in consonance with the Electoral Act that the National Working Committee of the PDP set up various panels to conduct the delegates' congresses and the actual primaries for the selection of candidates nationwide.

 “In furtherance of the above assignment, my office formally wrote to Dr. Sinikem with my signature, intimating him of the respective dates, times and locations for the conduct of the delegates and primary elections across the State. Dr. Sinikiem in ignoring my correspondences and contrary to the processes set down by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP, purportedly monitored some primaries.

“Upon the conclusion of the Congress/primary election(s) exercise and after the respective panels set up by the NWC of our party had forwarded the results thereof to our national Chairman in Abuja, Dr. Sinikiem decided to appoint himself as the returning officer in respect of the primaries he conducted and monitored at unauthorized venues and accordingly forged the PDP primary election results in favour of aspirants who lost In the respective Constituencies and Senatorial Districts.

“The forged primary election results of the PDP are what enabled the aforesaid aspirants to file two separate actions in the Abuja and Benin Divisions of the Federal High Court. And this is what is currently fueling a new crisis within our State chapter of the PDP.”

He said that it is on the basis of the foregoing that “one cannot but submit that Dr. Sinikiem’s conduct of preparing, signing, stamping and executing primary election results of the PDP, without lawful authority or excuse is contrary to the provisions of the Criminal Code on forgery. We shall furnish the Command with credible evidence during the investigation to buttress the allegations in this petition.

“In the interest of justice, adherence to the rule of law and to avoid the breach of public peace, I pray that the allegations in this petition be thoroughly investigated, and the suspect charged to court, if found culpable.”

According to a source who pleaded anonymity, "As expected in a democratic and lawful system, the police apprehended the electoral umpire for circumventing democratic principles of fair play, fairness, justice and corruptly enriching himself at the detriment of public good."

"Rather than face the consequences of his actions, Sinikiem and his cohorts went ahead to hire social media wailers who are lamenting the ‘persecution’ of the electoral umpire instead of supporting the process to sanitize the nation’s electoral body, purging it of the likes of Sinikiem and his sponsors."

He continued: "How can a sane individual plead amnesty for a top electoral officer who has betrayed his oath of office. The Edo INEC REC, Sinikiem is reaping the fruits of his electoral misconduct, and just like the INEC national has dissociated itself from the corrupt umpire, calling for his trial and p1ersecution if found guilty, other well-meaning Nigerians must join the Edo PDP and the police in its quest for an electoral body that is transparent and without corrupt officials."

"Seeking his disengagement would just amount to patting him in the back. Besides diligent prosecution, the authorities must not only stress impartiality as a watchword but must also ensure adherence every now and then for people in positions of trust, ensuring that anyone found wanting is made to face the full wrath of the law," he added.

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