Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests – welcome to the YIAGA AFRICA
Watching The Vote (WTV)’s Preliminary Press Conference on the observation plans
for the governorship and state assembly supplementary elections scheduled for
March 23, 2019 and the pre-election environment leading up to the elections.
This briefing is the first in a series of three planned press conferences to be hosted
by YIAGA AFRICA in this election. We equally invite
you to join us at the Watching The Vote Data centre, Floor 01,
Niger/Enugu Hall, Transcorp Hilton, Abuja on Saturday 23 March 2019 at 2pm
when YIAGA AFRICA will share its
Situational Statement on the set up and opening of polls and on Sunday 24 March
2019 at 2:00 pm when YIAGA AFRICA will share its Preliminary Statement on the
conduct of the elections.
On March 9, 2019, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
conducted Governorship and State House of Assembly elections across the
federation. Although there was an improvement with the management of election
logistics, the election was fraught with egregious violations of electoral
guidelines, intimidation, vote buying, violence and disruption by thugs and
some security personnel resulting to inconclusive elections in some states.
These inconclusive elections have become a subject of litigation resulting to
several court injections restraining INEC from concluding the election in some
states like Adamawa and Bauchi states. Notwithstanding, INEC has fixed March
23, 2019 to conclude the governorship elections in Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau
and Sokoto states and State Assembly elections in Adamawa, Bauchi,
Bayelsa, Benue, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Edo, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Lagos,
Nassarawa, Osun, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba and FCT Area council elections in
Abaji, Bwari, Gwagwalada and Kuje.
YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote Observation of the 2019
Governorship and State Assembly Supplementary Elections
On March 23, 2019, YIAGA AFRICA will deploy duly trained and accredited
stationary and roving observers to observe the conduct of the supplementary
elections in the affected polling units and states. YIAGA AFRICA will deploy 258
stationary observers and 6 roving observers. 97 LGA results
collation centre observers. Our observers will observe the entire election
day process from setup of the polling units, accreditation, voting,
announcement and posting of the official results and will send in periodic
reports to the Watching the Vote National Data Centre located at Floor 01,
Niger/Enugu Hall, Transcorp Hilton, Abuja where they will be processed and
analyzed. This deployment will enable YIAGA AFRICA to provide the most timely
and accurate information on the governorship rerun elections in the 5 states.
interference with the electoral process: Following the March 9 elections, political parties have
resorted to procuring court injunctions to restrain INEC from concluding the
elections in states like Adamawa and Bauchi. YIAGA AFRICA is concerned with the
manner some judges have granted applications without recourse to judicial
precedent and extant laws. For instance, Justice Abdulaziz Waziri of the
Adamawa State High Court issued an injunction restraining INEC from conducting
rerun elections in Adamawa following an application by the Movement for
Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD), a political party that never
presented a candidate in the main election. Similarly, Justice Inyang Ekwo of
Federal High Court in Abuja also issued an order restraining INEC from
continuing with the collation of results in Bauchi state based on an ex parte
motion initiated by the All Progressive Congress (APC) and its candidate
Mohammed Abubakar. This emerging trend undermines democratic institutions like
INEC and could dampen citizens confidence in the judiciary. The National
Judicial Council (NJC) should without further delay caution members of the
bench to refrain from interfering with the electoral process through the
issuance of questionable orders and injunctions.
- INEC’s Information management and communication: YIAGA AFRICA notes the confusion and misinformation in public domain with respect to states and polling units where rerun governorship elections will be conducted. YIAGA AFRICA believes this confusion was informed by INEC’s poor data management and timely dissemination of information on the supplementary elections. This we believe, may affect turnout of voters for the supplementary elections. YIAGA AFRICA reiterates that openness and transparency are a pre-requisite for boosting stakeholder confidence in the electoral process.
- Election Security: Nigerians have received assurances from security agencies on their non-partisanship and professionalism in the management of election security operations. INEC also informed stakeholder that it has received assurances of support from the security agencies. YIAGA AFRICA has received reports of heavy deployment of security personnel to the states with governorship rerun elections. It is our considered opinion that security deployment for elections should be commiserate with level of threats.
- Heighten incidence of voter inducement: In an attempt to woo voters, politicians have resorted to voter inducement using gift items, suspicious community empowerment programs and cash handouts in locations considered to be swing wards and polling units. From all indications, the supplementary elections in some states will be determined by the highest bidder. This is worrisome and poses a huge threat to Nigeria’s democracy and political legitimacy.
- INEC should make public
the data on PVC collection rates in the affected polling units. This
information should be shared with stakeholders and posted on all INEC’s online
and offline media platforms.
- INEC should ensure accurate and timely
deployment of election materials to affected polling units on election day.
- It is important to note
that these supplementary elections were occasioned by the non-use of card
readers or failure to deploy them to affected polling units. With this in mind,
INEC must insist on electronic accreditation of voters using the Smart Card
Readers and PVC.
- In view of the
contentious nature of the elections in some states, INEC should strengthen its
oversight on the electoral process especially the results collation process.
There should be strict compliance with the Regulations and guidelines for the
elections. Where INEC officials misapply the guidelines, the Commission should
ensure timely reversal of such misapplication and communicate its decision in a
timely manner. Also, election officials who disregard electoral guidelines
should be sanctioned appropriately.
- INEC should maintain its
periodic briefing with election stakeholders on the elections at the National
and state levels. INEC’s online and offline media platforms should be utilized
in sharing information with the public.
Improved election Security
- YIAGA AFRICA calls on
the security agencies to ensure proper coordination and collaboration in the
management of election security. The Nigerian Police is the lead security
agency responsible for election security therefore, sister agencies should
respect proper lines of communication and rules of engagement. Security
agencies must at all cost remain non-partisan and professional in their conduct
- Security agencies should
ensure election officials and materials are adequately secured. YIAGA AFRICA
reiterates the need for security agencies to respect the rights of Nigerians in
the light of series of harassment and intimidation of voters that characterized
the recently conducted elections.
Political Parties and candidates
- YIAGA AFRICA calls on
all political parties contesting in the supplementary elections to ensure they
encourage their supporters to come out and vote within the ambit of the law and to refrain from
vote selling and violence.
- YIAGA AFRICA
also calls on all Political parties to refrain from deploying thugs or
promoting any disruptive action that would lead to violence or halt the
conclusion of the elections.
YIAGA AFRICA calls on Nigerian citizens who are the biggest stakeholder in this election to turn out in their numbers and cast their votes by properly thumbprinting the ballot to reduce the number of rejected/invalid votes.
YIAGA AFRICA undertook the Watching The Vote project to provide Nigerian
voters, governorship candidates, political parties, civil society and INEC with
independent information on the conduct of the elections. The Watching
The Vote project
is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!”
Thank you and God Bless the people of Nigeria!
Dr. Hussaini Abdu
The Vote Working Group
Director, YIAGA AFRICA
For media inquiries please contact:
Officer YIAGA AFRICA
Tel. +234 (0) 703
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