By Peter Jene
The Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room has slammed the Independent National Electoral Commissioner (INEC) for the poor management of the Presidential and National Assembly elections which took place across Nigeria on Saturday, February 23, 2019.
The Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre and Convener, NCSSR, Clement Nwankwo, while presenting the third interim statement of the Situation Room to journalists in Abuja on Monday, declared that the election has been a step back from the 2015 general elections and demanded an independent inquiry into the poor performance of INEC.
The Situation Room also called on INEC and security agencies to ensure accountability for acts inimical to the integrity and credibility of the polls.
“Situation Room is however disappointed by the serious lapses observed with the conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly elections held on Saturday 23 February 2019. Despite the elections being conducted against a background of an earlier postponement on February 16, 2019, on grounds of logistics challenges, it still suffered from major logistic lapses.
“Additionally, the election was marred by violence, security lapses and instances of overreach. Other challenges include compromised INEC officials as well as partisan security operatives. Conduct of major political parties was disappointing”, it said.
The Situation Room said it got reports of incidents “involving the military in Rivers State and in another incident military personnel obstructing the passage of electorate into their polling units”.
“Situation Room notes that INEC has not managed the election efficiently and significant shortcomings have been recorded. The election has been a step back from the 2015 General Election and actions should be taken to identify what has gone wrong and what can be corrected. Situation Room urges voters and stakeholders to exercise restraint to avoid further loss of human lives and to seek legal redress were aggrieved”, it said.
“In light of the above identified issues, the Situation Room makes the following recommendations: There should be an independent inquiry into the poor management of the electoral process by INEC with a view to determining the underlining causes for logistics lapses with a view of itemising operational deficiency that led to the initial postponement of elections on February 16 and logistical challenges with the rescheduled elections on February 23 2019.
“In addition to this, INEC is expected to inquire into the activities of its staff with respect to late arrivals to the polling station; lack of understanding of processes by ad hoc staff; and the allegations of collusion between staff and politicians. The failure of the smart card readers in identified polling units should be interrogated with a special audit of the results of polling units where 5 per cent card reader incidence failure was recorded.
“The Situation Room calls on INEC and security agencies to ensure accountability for acts inimical to the integrity and credibility of the polls especially individuals complicit in the burning of INEC offices, election materials, snatching of ballot boxes and other electoral offences.”