Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group-HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has faulted a PortHarcourt based Christian leader Pastor David Ibiyeomie who is the founder of Salvation Ministries in PortHarcourt Rivers State, Nigeria on his impressions about how some National Youth Service Corps members allegedly compromised their position as ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission during the just concluded controversial February 25th Presidential and Legislative elections.
HURIWA stated that in a trending video that has gone viral, the Rivers State based preacher reportedly said as follows: “The whole destiny of a nation for money. Corpers sold their birthright for money. Any corper from 2022/2023, you must pray well before you employ them. When you want to employ someone from amongst the bunch of this 2022/2023 batch, you need to pray and ask God if this applicant is amongst the corrupt ones or the uncorrupted ones. Don’t employ anybody from amongst 2022/2023 without asking God because they turned this Country upside down.”
The Rights group said the position of the respected Christian Preacher in the crude oil rich Rivers State was uncharitable and unacceptable and amounted to the application of a fallacy of hasty conclusion because according to the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA, the Pastor did not take notice of the sacrificial efforts hundreds of other young Nigerians who worked for the electoral umpire under the auspices of the National Youth Service Corps and who encountered series of life threatening attacks from political thugs and overzealous politicians over unsubstantiated allegation of compromises on the part of these young Nigerians whose only crime was their strong resolve to do what is lawful and correct in the eye of the electoral Act and other extant electoral related statutes.
Besides, HURIWA in the media statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko said the alleged but unproven actions of just a few of the members of the NYSC Scheme can not be equated to mean that the entire corpers who worked relentlessly to discharge their mandates as ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, mortgaged their consciences during the conduct of the poll and in the transmission of results to the collation centres in the local government areas where they were posted.
“We at the organised Civil Rights Advocacy community do acknowledge that there were hundreds or thousands of young Nigerians under the umbrella of the NYSC who were one hundred percent dedicated to their loyalty to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and therefore discharged their duties with honesty, transparency and accountability and indeed some of these brave corpers nearly paid the supreme prices for their avowed determination to do what is just, lawful and right in the eyes of the law. Most of these great young patriots that adorned the uniforms of NYSC were physically harassed, intimidated and violently attacked by political thugs and some would have died where it not for the swift intervention of the law enforcement agencies and the preemptive and effective management of the National Youth Service Corps scheme that saw to it that those who sustained life threatening injuries were treated timely and comprehensively attended to.”
HURIWA also applauded the management of the NYSC for always swiftly responding to issues and events around the activities of the youngsters who worked as INEC’s ad-hoc staff during the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections just as the Rights group mentioned a typical example of a married female corper allegedly caught changing results whereby the NYSC Management intervened and gave the appropriate details of what happened thus: “The attention of NYSC Management has been drawn to a misleading information trending online with the above caption, involving a female Corps Member alleged to have manipulated election results in one of the polling units in Abakpa Ward in Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State to favour one of the presidential candidate.
To put the records straight the Corps Member in question confessed that she was stressed out in the work and was very tired during the counting of ballots, she admitted making a wrong entry of election results and having discovered her mistakes, she quickly corrected herself by canceling the error and started imputing the results correctly.
In the process, the electorates around her discovered the mistake and concluded that she was trying to manipulate the election results by recording the LP result for NNPP candidate.
It is however on record that the corps member on her own observed the mistake and corrected it herself without anybody prompting her.
The allegation that the corps member was induced and sponsored to act in that manner was baseless and unfounded. As a follow up on this the corps member was made to write a report which she attached to the result sheet before submission.
NYSC Management wishes to State categorically that, it would not shield any of her Corps Members that is involved in electoral malpractice, but advised members of the public to be cautious in attributing wrong interpretations to Corps Members’ performances during elections without due diligence as unconfirmed and unverified information could be very misleading to members of the society.”
Relatedly, HURIWA commended the NYSC for standing in defense of a youth corps member who nearly got killed in Abuja following an issue of a mistaken identity when some political party members suspected that he was responsible for attempting to compromise the election just as the Management of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, said its attention has been drawn to a story making the rounds on social media about the killing of a corps member working as an adhoc officer in the 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections in Abuja.
The Scheme said that indeed, the corps member, deployed to LEA Primary School, Lugbe, Abuja was brutalised by an angry mob on the suspicion that he was involved in the act of thumbprinting ballot papers in favour of one of the presidential aspirants.
NYSC said the brutalisation of the corps member was a case of mistaken identity, a conclusion reached after investigation by security agencies.
NYSC further stated: “In any case, the management of the scheme will not shield any corps member that runs foul of the Electoral Act if found guilty. It is imperative to clarify that the corps member was not part of the criminal gang involved in the said act.
“Gratifyingly, the culprits who are neither corps members nor officials of the National Youth Service Corps have been apprehended by the Police. The brutalised corps member did not die as reported, but recuperating after treatment at the hospital.
“The Scheme, therefore, wishes to call on Nigerians to exercise restraint on issues that concern corps members and other electoral officers on national assignment during the general elections.
“Management wishes to, once again, admonish corps members participating in the conduct of the general elections to ensure the highest degree of neutrality and discipline in their approach to the national assignment, as membership of the corps cannot prevent them from prosecution if there is an infraction to the electoral Act”.
It is so unfortunate and unbelievable that a pastor of his calibre would dish this sermon from God’s exalted alter which should have been a privileged pedestal to charge and uplift the spirit of his congregants with truth but rather he chose to base it on unsubstantiated claims far from the truth, thereby putting the lives of innocent patriotic Corps members in the coming elections on the line. The holy book is instructive in Proverbs 12:18 that “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (NIV)
HURIWA has therefore demanded that the PortHarcourt based Christian leader Pastor David Ibiyeomie who made a hastily conclusive allegations that some corpers compromised the election and therefore not employable, to apologise to these youngsters who worked all day and night amidst the rough and tumble of that heated Presidential and National Assembly polls to give their best to the Country just as HURIWA said the statement by the Preacher is damaging to the reputation of members of the 2022/2023 NYSC corpers .
“Elders who are otherwise well respected for their concrete contributions to social justice and the economic evolution of their communities such as Pastor David Ibiyeomie, should not be seen speaking in such a fallacious way as to create the impression that the young people of Nigeria who are actually bearing the brunt of the severe state of bad governance, insecurity and unemployment, are the same agents of economic and political destabilization when this is not the correct position,” HURIWA affirmed.