Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to tackle and improve on noticeable challenges experienced during the Feb. 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The CSOs made the call in their preliminary statement on the March 18th elections, signed by the Convener and Co-Coveners, Ene Obi, Asma’u Joda and James Ugochukwu, ahead of the Governorship and House of Assembly elections.
Obi, while addressing newsmen on the preliminary statement in Abuja, said the Civil Society Situation Room deployed 2,340 election observers, with at least three election observers per LGA in every state of the federation, excluding the FCT.
She added that the number included 131 Persons with Disabilities for receiving data and reports from the field, which would be analysed and disseminated through press statements and reports.
Obi said that the Situation Room’s observation and analysis of the conduct of the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections would be guided by the Credibility Threshold for the 2023 General Elections.
“Situation Room expects that INEC has taken lessons from the challenges experienced during the Presidential and National Assembly elections of Feb. 25.
“We hope that the commission has made adequate arrangements to forestall the recurrence of the gaps observed during the elections.
“Situation Room also expects that the glitches that led to the malfunctioning of the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) have been resolved.
“And also that the issues that occasioned the inability of the commission to conduct elections in some polling units and late opening of polls in others have been addressed.
“In particular, the Situation Room calls on INEC to address the shortages in the number of ad hoc staff available for the elections,” she said.
Obi also urged INEC to make adequate transportation arrangements, conduct additional training for the ad hoc staff, and promptly reconfigure and deploy the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and other materials required for the elections.
According to her, INEC should ensure that it communicated in a timely manner to the public on any challenges or changes made to the electoral process.
Obi said that the security situation across the country appeared tense, with reports of violence, kidnappings and assassinations in several states, including Lagos, Rivers, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and Kano.
She reminded the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies that they had a primary responsibility to guarantee the safety and security of election officials as well as other election stakeholders.
Obi urged security agencies to take adequate measures to forestall the recurrence of acts of voter suppression, disruption of voting, and outright violence experienced in some places during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“Situation Room calls on the Nigeria Police and other security agencies to ensure that they are non-partisan, professional and will avoid any actions capable of being interpreted as acting in support of any political interest,” she said.
Obi also used the opportunity to call on political parties to respect and abide by the Peace Accord signed by them.
She said that Situation Room would be tracking violent incidents across the states, adding that perpetrators and masterminds would be called out for investigations and punitive measures in line with Section 92 (5-8) of the Electoral Act 2022.
Obi called on citizens to continue to show patriotism and patience by coming out to cast their votes, and by conducting themselves in a peaceful manner during the elections. (NAN)