Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The European Union Election Observation Mission to Nigeria (EU EOM) has said that the Saturday, March 9 governorship and Houses of Assembly election witnessed overall low turnout and violence.
The EU EOM also expressed sorrow and condolences to those who lost loved ones during the elections, and also, called for a national dialogue on electoral reform in the country.
EU EOM Chief Observer, Maria Arena, gave the EU’s assessment of the election during its preliminary assessment in Abuja.
Arena said on the election day, 73 EU observers monitored voting, counting and the collation of results in 22 States in all the six geopolitical zones.
She added that the EU observers monitored election in 223 polling units and 81 collation Center.
Arena added that although election operations improved, “they were also marked by overall low turnout and violence, including against election officials and voters.
“Elections should be occasions of peaceful participation when voters are able to freely choose who they would like to represent them in office.
“It is with great sorrow and with condolences to those who’ve lost loved ones that we note that election-related violence has led to the deaths of far too many Nigerians. It is deeply troubling and those responsible must be held to account,” Arena said.
Arena further said during the Saturday election, polling procedures were assessed by EU EOM more positively than during the Presidential and National Assembly election.
She, however, said at eight polling units observed, the EU EOM saw indications of vote-buying. Arena added that eightcases of obvious underage voting were also observed by the EU EOM, even as she said the observers saw that counting of ballots was transparent overall.
“Positively, in almost all cases, party agents received copies of the results forms, although they were often not displayed.
“The environment for these elections as been difficult, with cases of violence and intimidation, including attacks on election administration officials.
“Security agencies have an important role toplay in helping safeguard voters and all involved in an election. However, citizen observers reported being obstructed by military and security agents. Observers, including EU observers, were denied access to collation centres in Rivers, apparently by military personnel.”