On Sunday, Yiaga Africa reported that the Governorship and State Assembly elections were successfully conducted thanks to the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) Result Viewing platform (IReV).
At a news conference in Abuja about the governorship and state assembly elections backed by the European Union through its Support to Democratic Government in Nigeria program, Mr. Ezenwa Nwagwu, a board member of Yiaga Africa, made this statement (EU-SDGN).
Yiaga Africa, according to Nwagwu, applauded INEC for the great improvement in the administration of election logistics, particularly the early start of voting thanks to the election officials’ fast arrival in most polling places.
“Unlike the Feb. 25 presidential election, the INEC Election Results Viewing (IReV) portal functioned optimally in this election, enabling citizens to download polling unit-level results.
“Electronic accreditation using the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) was successfully implemented in a significant number of polling units observed by Yiaga Africa.
“Yiaga Africa calls on INEC to ensure proper oversight of the results collation process and ensure that results declared under duress or in breach of the Electoral Act, INEC Guidelines or Manual, are reviewed in line with Section 65 of the Electoral Act.”
Nwagwu said as INEC continued to collate results, citizens, candidates and supporters are encouraged to remain calm and peaceful, and reject any call for violence.
He said that only INEC has the legal mandate to announce the election results and return a candidate as a winner.
“We urge all stakeholders to respect the commission’s constitutional power and refrain from declaring election results.”
Nwagwu said that Yiaga Africa observers noted that the Governorship and State Assembly elections were signposted with voter suppression, electoral violence, electoral impunity, vote buying and capture of the results management by political thugs.
This, he said, were in Delta, Lagos, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Kano, and Taraba states.
He said that Yiaga Africa was saddened by the cases of attacks on voters, INEC officials, journalists, election observers and personnel of the EFCC by political thugs.
“Reports also indicate that at least eight fatalities were recorded within the last 24 hrs.
“These election-related deaths are unacceptable and highly condemnable. It is important for security agencies to hold the political thugs and their sponsors accountable for these deaths and attacks.”
He said that Yiaga Africa condemned, in unequivocal terms, acts of voter suppression fuelled by ethnic profiling, political thuggery and desperation to secure electoral victory at all costs.
He said that in flagrant abuse of the constitution and the 2022 Electoral Act, registered voters and fellow citizens were denied the right to vote in some states.
“On Professional Conduct, Yiaga Africa received reports that security personnel were unprofessional and partisan in 26 polling units observed.
“Yiaga Africa received reports that polling officials were unprofessional and partisan in 21 polling units observed.”
Nwagwu reported that Yiaga Africa validated 216 critical occurrences on Election Day, March 18, during the course of the day, which is more than was observed in the polls on February 25.
Intimidation and harassment at voting places, violent disturbance, ballot box snatching and destruction, results manipulation during collation, and obstruction of election observation, according to him, have all occurred.
According to Nwagwu, Yiaga Africa got 44 allegations of people bribing people to vote with money or by giving them food.
Thus, he said, Yiaga Africa urged the members of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) to make sure that security personnel were deployed in a sufficient and effective manner at the collation centers.
He added that Yiaga Africa called on political parties, their supporters and voters across the states to remain calm and peaceful as the results collation process is still ongoing.