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ECOWAS decries irregularities in Nigeria’s presidential, legislative polls


AU Mission asks INEC to rectify irregularities

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Electoral Observation Mission to Nigeria, has decried the irregularities associated with the February 25th Presidential and National Assembly elections.

The ECOWAS Electoral Observation Mission to Nigeria, in its preliminary statement, said after a careful analysis of the information received from the observers deployed to the field, it noted the late start of voting beyond the 08:30 am opening time.

This, the ECOWAS Mission noted, was a result of the late arrival of polling officials and voting materials and in some cases, the delivery of wrong materials at polling stations across the country.

The ECOWAS Electoral Observation Mission headed by former President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, said: “There were postponements of elections in some polling units in Lagos, Imo, Bayelsa, Rivers and Edo States, due to electoral violence or logistics challenges; the unavailability of sufficient quantities of electoral materials in many polling stations across the country; the visible presence of security agents discharging their duties in accordance with the provisions of the law; in some polling units, however, they were inadequate.”

The ECOWAS Electoral Observation Mission further said most polling officials and ad-hoc staff demonstrated inadequate knowledge of their duties, especially with the voting materials.

The ECOWAS Mission added that some polling units ran out of ink, delaying the resumption of voting.

The mission disclosed that the set-up of most of the polling units visited did not adequately protect the secrecy of the voting process.

While saying that voter turnout was generally low in most of the polling stations visited, the ECOWAS Electoral Observation also said there were cases of BVAS failure to accredit voters due mainly to technical issues relating to login.

The Mission, which acknowledged that the processes on election day unfolded in a generally peaceful environment, however, said that incidents of violence, killings and disruption were recorded in several states.

“The Mission deplores the unfortunate incidents that occurred in the lead-up to E-Day, leading to loss of life in some parts of the country. These include the murder of the Labour Party senatorial candidate for Enugu East senatorial district, alongside five of his supporters, and three persons who lost their lives in Kano in clashes between supporters of two rival political parties, APC and NNPP.

“On E-Day, an attack perpetrated by Boko Haram insurgents in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State resulted in five persons injured.

“Similarly, there were reported attacks by bandits in Alawa, Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State.

“Violent incidents were likewise recorded in the Mafoluku area of Oshodi in Lagos State, where masked men, armed with Pump Action rifles disrupted voting and burnt ballot papers and boxes.

“There were also reported cases of ballot snatching and BVAS theft in some States, including Delta, Katsina and Anambra. Specifically, an incident was recorded in Oshimili Local Government Area of Delta State, where thugs attacked a polling unit and, in the process, fled with two BVAS machines. Similarly, In Safana LGA, Katsina State, thugs attacked a voting centre and snatched six BVAS machines.

“However, while few BVAS were recovered by the security forces, INEC’s contingency arrangements enabled the continuation of voting as stolen BVAS machines were replaced and security was reinforced in the areas affected.

“The Mission presents its sincere condolences to the families of the victims.

“The Mission notes the increasing misinformation and disinformation on social media, including misleading conjectures and projections regarding the outcome of the 25th February 2023 general elections, liable to cause disaffection and inflame tensions in the polity. It urges the public to disregard the provocations and continue to rely on official pronouncements on the electoral process by INEC and other competent national institutions,” the ECOWAS Electoral Observation Mission further said.

On its part, the African Union Election Observation Mission headed by former Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the need to rectify whatever challenges before the commission so that the electoral process can be concluded in a peaceful and credible manner.

Speaking in Abuja, Uhuru said: “We have no reason whatsoever to doubt the integrity of INEC. For us, it is to continue to appeal that those glitches they are having be rectified. The sooner the process is brought to a transparent conclusion the better.

“And the only appeal we will have over and above that is to all stakeholders, political parties, the candidates to have the patience to await the final the final authority entrusted to do that.

“To abide by the peace accord that we all witnessed signed and whatever the outcome to follow legal and constitutional means to air whatever grievances that they may have.

“And for those who are indeed in concluding this process, to continue to abide by sworn duty to ensure that Nigerians are able to have a free and fair election that shall express true will of the people of Nigeria.”

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