Clear indications emerged yesterday that at least 120, 000 eligible voters from six communities ravaged by suspected Fulani herdsmen attacks in Guma Local Government area of Benue State may be denied their franchise in the 2023 general elections.
The communities which include: Uvir, Mbadwem, Mbabai, Mbayer-Yandev, Mbawa and Nyiev, mostly of the Iharev extraction in the Minda axis where Governor Samuel Ortom holds sway are those that were worst hit by herdsmen attacks where scores of farmers were killed and many others rendered homeless four years ago.
Already, perturbed by the effect of the development, former governorship aspirant and Commissioner for Lands and Survey in the state, Hon. John Tondu, yesterday, threatened legal action against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), giving it 21 days within which to make necessary arrangements to carry out Continuous Voters’ Registration (CVR) in seven wards of the local government to register the IDPs. Hon. Tondu in a letter addressed to the INEC National Chairman, Mahmoud Yakubu dated September 24, 2021 entitled: “Continued Disenfranchisement of Internally Displaced Persons from Guma Local Government Area of Benue State, ”
on behalf of the communities, threatened to recourse to the judicial system and take legal steps to ensure that the Commission is compelled to register and include in the voters’ register, the displaced persons. “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 on-going continuous voters’ registration exercise.
“As you are well aware, voting and being voted for are at the heart of 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. “Facilities to enable online registration are nonexistent in the IDP camps at the moment.”