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CSOs pass vote of no confidence on INEC, demand audit report of 2023 presidential, NASS elections

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, President-elect

ABUJA – Coalition of Civil Society Organisations working on credible elections in Nigeria under the aegis of Situation Room on Wednesday passed a vote of no confidence in the process adopted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections.

The Convener of Situation Room, Ms. Ene Obi who spoke on behalf of the coalition during a press briefing held in Abuja, however, demanded the audit report of the Presidential and National Assembly election with a view to ascertaining polling units where elections did not take place.

She said: “The Situation Room expected that the innovative reforms introduced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, in furtherance of the new Electoral Act 2022, will lead to efficient and accountable election management, including improved access to polling units, hitch-free accreditation and voting, accurate and transparent results collation, and effective violence mitigation.

“Contrary to the above expectations, the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections were marred by very poor organization, severe logistical and operational failure, lack of essential electoral transparency, substantial disruption of voting, and several incidents of violence.

“As a result, the process cannot be considered to have been credible. Given the lack of transparency, particularly in the result collation process, there can be no confidence in the results of these elections.

“In addition, there was very poor communication from INEC on election day and on its challenges with its processes; its citizens contact numbers did not work and even when there were challenges with uploads to the INEC Results Viewing (iReV) Portal.

“This is all the more disappointing since the elections were held in an atmosphere in which the people showed remarkable commitment to democracy, eagerly engaging in the electoral process and waiting patiently to vote in very difficult circumstances.

“In the light of the shortcomings outlined in this interim statement, the Situation Room calls on INEC to provide details of the process leading up to the results it collated for the elections.

“Situation Room demands that INEC provides information on why its promise to improve the transparency of the collation process through the introduction of the iReV Portal performed below expectation.

“Situation Room further demands that INEC conducts an audit of polling units where elections did not take place to establish the reasons for the failure. Situation Room also calls on INEC to note that public confidence in its capacity to run elections is gravely shaken, and that it would require extraordinary efforts for trust to be re-established.

“Situation Room calls on all political parties and aggrieved parties to pursue well established constitutional and legal remedies available to them and go through the democratic process of the courts. We call on Nigerians to remain calm and express their displeasure, if need be, through a peaceful and democratic way,” she said.

In his remarks, Executive Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Dr. Clement Nwankwo who reiterated the Coalition’s position maintained that the just concluded election lacks the credibility in all ramifications.

“The Situation Room considers that this election lacks credibility and this statement was actually put to use before the before the announcements were made. You will see that the convener only alluded to the announcement as off the curve before she started the reading.

“If you read the statement, it is quite clear that we were not interested in the result, we are more interested in the conversations and the process.

“For the political parties who walked out, political parties are free to respond to the process the way that they choose. So, we cannot comment on the actions of the political parties.

“But the stage which we are in right now is that the election results have been announced by INEC and if you follow the process that should then attend this, it is quite clear that the next issue in terms of process is exploring legal options by the political parties. But Civil Society and political parties are different paths on this issue. Our part is to draw attention to the result of our observations of the elections, and I think it is very sad that despite all the promises made by INEC, despite all the assurances, despite the huge sums of money that was budgeted and spent on these elections, we got this shabby and shoddy management of elections.

“As the statement quite clearly has said, going ahead to the governorship elections, it’s quite clear that even for the governorship elections, INEC is in severe crisis, establishing any confidence in the anybody that it can manage the conduct of the state governorship and State Assembly’s elections.

“For a lot of us, confidence in INEC is severely shaking and quite frankly, we have lost confidence in INEC and it’s ability to manage elections in Nigeria,” he stressed.

Also venting his view, Founder/CEO of Albino Foundation, Mr. Jakes Epelle who aligned with the Coalition, argued that “it’s unfortunate the level of efforts, preparedness and resources that was invested even from our own segment of this election which is inclusivity, is almost eroded.

“I aligned myself critically with the founder of Situation Room that we have lost absolute confidence in INEC and their ability to even conduct the next election is totally shaky.

“And it’s unfortunate that all the promises they made, they failed to keep to the terms of those promises. Therefore, it’s very important that if the forthcoming election for states should hold, INEC would not repeat the gross mistake that they have made in the presidential election. So, inclusivity was nearly zero,” he noted. (Nigerian Tribune)

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