© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Buhari ignores several EU recommendations on elections – Observers
EU says suspension of Onnoghen did not follow due process, divisive
THE European Union (EU) says from 30 recommendations made after the 2015 general election monitoring, only four were considered by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government while 26 others were ditched.
Among those dropped was the amendment of the Electoral Act, believed to be capable of promoting transparency in the nation’s electoral process, the report notes.
Other discarded recommendations were transparent result processes, protection of media freedom, improved measures for more women participation in politics among others.
Notable Nigerians had on several occasions clamoured for the passage of the 2018 Electoral Act (Amendment) bill which was eventually passed by the National Assembly.
“In 2015, the EU EOM made 30 recommendations. Of these, four were implemented, including two priority recommendations. These included the introduction of continuous voting rather than the cumbersome procedure of voters being accredited in the morning and voting in the afternoon. In addition, time limits were established for pre-election day petitions. The other two relate to continued biometric identification checks during polling, and scrutiny by civil society,” the report says.
“Other recommendations from 2015 were not implemented. These included a more transparent results process, stronger measures for parties to promote women, and provisions for protections of media freedoms and plurality. The Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, if assented to, would have increased the number of recommendations implemented as it included many positive measures including provisions on results transparency.”
The report, which detailed another set of 30 recommendations, revealed that Nigeria has the lowest rate of women in parliament in Africa, with the number progressively decreasing since 2011.
It stated further that, during the 2019 elections, number of women in the National Assembly fell below five per cent.
Among other issues, the EU 2019 election monitoring team, headed by Maria Arena, however, identified prosecution and sack of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, less than a month to the election, as one of the perceived notable actions of destroying the judicial independence and defeating the essence of separation of power.
According to the report, suspension of Onnoghen did not also follow due process, divisive and has weakened the hope of developing the electoral process.
“Three weeks before the original election date, the president suspended the chief justice of Nigeria. This had an inhibiting effect on the judiciary. It was seen by many as undermining security of tenure, damaging judicial independence and compromising the division of powers.
“The suspension did not follow due process, was divisive, and undermined confidence in the electoral process and opportunity for remedy. He was later subject to compulsory retirement by the National Judicial Council. The chief justice has a key role in deciding the Supreme Court bench for hearing final pre-election appeals as well as governorship and presidential petitions.”
The Mission further blamed INEC for consistently failing to prosecute electoral offences, thus caused all forms of impunity.
The election observers, who covered all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), gave verdict that the poll was marred with irregularities.