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2019 election not credible, says EU




THE European Union Election Observation Mission on Saturday says the 2019 election is marred with irregularities, thus lack credibility and not transparent.

The EU, in its final report on the 2019 general election also blamed the electoral umpire – Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for its operational shortcomings, political parties for not controlling their supporters as well as security operatives for poor violence prevention during the poll.

“Overall, the EU EOM concluded the 2019 elections were marked by severe operational and transparency shortcomings, electoral security problems and low turnout. Positively, however, the elections were competitive, parties were able to campaign and civil society enhanced accountability,” the report says.

The observers further blamed the security officials in selected locations for maltreating both the electorate and electoral officials.

The report, read by the Head of Mission, Maria Arena at a press conference held in Abuja, however, suggested 30 recommendations the Federal Government could consider to better future elections and develop the nation’s electoral processes.

Speaking on the proposed national dialogue on electoral process by the INEC, the mission, however, supported the move, saying “such reform needs political leadership that is dedicated to the rights of Nigerian citizens, and an inclusive process of national dialogue involving state institutions, parties, civil society and the media.”

“This needs to be urgently undertaken to allow time for debate, legislative changes and implementation well in advance of the next elections,” she added.

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Emphasising on other loopholes in the election, the EU Chief Observer, noted that the listed deficiencies including violence, intimidations and poor voters awareness marred integrity of the election.

It reads: “However, considerable weaknesses remained. Operational deficiencies led to the postponement of the elections, there were insufficient checks and transparency in the results process, as well as a general lack of public communication and information.

“The elections became increasingly marred by violence and intimidation, with the role of the security agencies becoming more contentious as the process progressed.

“The EU EOM reported that this damaged the integrity of the electoral process and may deter future participation. During collation of the federal results, EU observers directly witnessed or received reports of intimidation of NEC officials in 20 states.

“While the legal framework broadly provides for democratic elections and some improvements were made to the Constitution, various legal shortcomings remained, including in relation to the use of smart card readers.

“The EU EOM also noted the suspension of the chief justice by the president a few weeks before the elections, which it said was seen to lack due process and reportedly undermined judicial independence.

“Other issues highlighted in the report include: conflicting and late rulings on electoral disputes that undermined opportunity for remedy and created uncertainty; the dysfunctional regulation of political finance; very few electoral offences resulting in arrest or prosecution; problems With the collection of permanent voter cards; and the further fall in the number of women elected.”

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Some of the recommendations, however, include: “Strengthen INEC procedures for the collation of results to improve integrity and confidence in electoral outcomes. Establish requirements in law for full results transparency, with data easily accessible to the public.

“Considerably strengthen lNEC’s organizational and operational capacity, as well as its internal communication.

“The inter-agency body responsible for electoral security should work more transparently and inclusively, with regular consultations with political parties and civil society. Introduce a legal requirement for political parties to have a minimum representation of women among candidates.

“The Electoral tribunals should also cover pre-election cases in order to improve access to remedy and to avoid petitions being taken to different courts at the same time.

“Reform the licensing system for the broadcast media to provide for media pluralism and diversity all of Nigeria’s states.”

Notable Nigerians had previously described the election as such that lacked credibility and marred with violence and other irregularities

The ICIR also reported, based on incidents during the poll, why the 2019 election may have lacked credibility.

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The mission arrived Nigeria in January and  observed both Presidential and National Assembly elections held on 23 February, the governorship and State House of Assembly elections on 9 March including the supplementary governorship elections held on 23rd March.

Author profile

Olugbenga is an Investigative Reporter with The ICIR. Do you have a scoop? Shoot him an email at oadanikin@icirnigeria.org. Twitter Handle: @OluAdanikin

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