…Expressed Worry Over Declining Integrity of Electoral Process
By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – YIAGA AFRICA has expressed concern with efforts by the political class to undermine democratic institutions like Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Nigeria Police.
According to YIAGA AFRICA, “This do-or-die attitude of the political class where agencies of state like the Nigerian army are deployed to interfere with the electoral process despite legal limits to their involvement in the elections is unacceptable.
This it said, could imperil Nigeria’s democracy if not addressed.
YIAGA AFRICA which condemned the destruction and vandalization of INEC offices all in bid to prevent the electoral commission from conducting elections, disclosed this on Sunday at a press briefing held in Abuja.
The group said the common good should be the ultimate goal of public leadership but it appears, politicians are determined to subvert the electoral process for their personal gains.
Other concerns raised by YIAGA AFRICA are:
- Declining integrity of the electoral process: The reports on non-compliance with electoral guidelines and procedures lapses in our electoral process could potentially undermine the integrity of elections. YIAGA AFRICA is concerned with the flagrant abuse of electoral guidelines on collation of results. In some cases, INEC officials instructed security agents to deny accredited observers access to results collation centres. This occurred in Ado LGA in Benue state, Osru LGA in Imo state, Rimi LGA in Katsina State and Yabo LGA in Sokoto state.
- Threat to press freedom and civil society: The attack on journalists and civil society actors during the 2019 elections is condemnable. During the March 9 elections, journalists and observers were intimidated, abducted and assaulted. For instance, a journalist with Premium Times was intimidated and abducted by thugs and party loyalists while on election duty for exposing underage voting in a polling unit in Plateau state. Watching The Vote observers were also intimidated and threatened while observing the elections.
- Poor voter turnout: Although, results collation is ongoing and a definite figure on turnout can only be determined after the election, YIAGA AFRICA notes the poor level of voter turnout for the elections. YIAGA AFRICA preliminary conclusion suggests that the poor turnout was occasioned by the loss of confidence in the electoral process, failure of political leadership to deliver on campaign promises, low voter mobilization, threat of violence and heavy security deployment. Low voter turnout has implications for political legitimacy and citizenship. A post-election audit will unravel the factors responsible for low voter turnout in the 2019 elections.
- Vote buying and selling: As noted in previous WTV observation reports, the March 9 elections was characterized with high level of vote buying and selling. In some centers, the election was determined by the highest bidder. What is most astonishing is the poor number of arrests despite reported cases of vote buying in the elections.
- Violence and extrajudicial killings: YIAGA AFRICA notes with great concern the level of violence resulting to loss of lives and destruction of properties. It is unacceptable that Nigeria continues to witness orgy of violence during elections. These incidences signal a decline in Nigeria’s democratic credentials.
YIAGA AFRICA therefore called on INEC to fast track the process of results collation and announcement. Stressing that the electoral commission owes Nigerians an explanation on the reasons why results collation was suspended in some LGAs on election day.
It also reminded that the transparency of the results collation process is central to the integrity of the elections and the acceptability of its outcome. Based on that, INEC must uphold the values of openness and integrity in the collation process as well as ensure all collation centers are accessible to accredited observers, media and party agents.
CDD further for the prosecution of electoral offenders arrested by security as well as the sanctioning of military personnel who disrupted the process. Electoral malfeasance will persist if no perpetrator is brought to justice. It will amount to injustice to victims of electoral injustice if perpetrators are not held to account for their infractions, CDD said.