Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Electoral Institute for Sustainable Development in Africa Election Observation Mission (EISA EOM) to Nigeria said the violence that characterised the conduct of last weekend elections across the country outweighed that of 2015.
The incidences, according to EISA EOM, led to loss of lives and property, with sustained injuries by Nigerians.
Head of the EISA EOM and former President of Zambia, Rupiah Banda, while presenting the group’s preliminary statement in Abuja, yesterday, said EISA EOM’s assessment of the elections was based on international benchmarks set in the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance; the OAU/AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections; and the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and the Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and Observation.
EISA EOM noted that the elections held against the backdrop of growing insecurity, fuelled by activities of Boko Haram, violent activities of cattle herders, banditry, hijacking/kidnappings, threats by Biafra separatists, activities of secret cults, and other forms of politically-motivated violence.
The group added that the elections also held within a polarised context where religious, ethnic and political divisions carried on from the aftermath of the 2015 elections, played a key role.
In a related development, the African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) to Nigeria has said voters and party agents interfered with last Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections.
AUEOM Head and former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegne, disclosed this in a preliminary statement on the conduct of the elections, in company with the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Minata Samate Cessouma, in Abuja, yesterday.
He said the Mission observed that the political space has significantly broadened as evidenced by the high number of registered voters, political parties and candidates who took part in the elections.
Desalegne added that despite some reports of election-related violence, deaths and intimidation, the overall political climate remained largely peaceful and conducive for the conduct of democratic elections.
He further said the AU Mission recognised the operational and logistical challenges faced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which led to rescheduling of the original date of the 2019 elections.
He, however, said at the same time, the AU Mission was concerned by the pattern of consistent postponement of elections which have implications for citizens’ participation.
The former minister further said 38 percent of voting points observed did not close at 2:00pm; due to late opening, but voters on the queue at closing time were allowed to vote.
“Where they were not observed, it was mainly due to inconsistencies in determining valid or invalid votes, and failure to publicly post the result forms at the polling units.
“The AUEOM observed overcrowding and interference by voters and party agents during the counting process. This situation amounts to a violation of INEC’s rules and regulations, creates tension and undue influence on the results.
“Despite the challenges noted above, Election Day operations were administered in a manner that allowed the free expression of the will of the voters,” Desalegne said.