Issued: Monday, 13th April 2015
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, after observing the State-level elections for the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly, which held on Saturday, 11th April 2015, makes the following statement:
The Situation Room acknowledges and commends the significant improvements in the electoral process made by INEC. In the main, the elections went well across the country, notably with about 90% of polling stations opening on time and the Card Readers operating with minimal hitches. Turn out at the poll was however largely low.
Situation Room wishes to draw attention to the following concerns and reservations as observed during the elections, whichraise issues about the credibility of the elections in some States. Information obtained from our networks of field observers and partners indicate the following:
· Numerous cases of electoral misconduct – disorderly conduct at polling units – in Akwa Ibom (10 reports received), Katsina (17) and Sokoto (18);
· Many cases of process violations in Sokoto (15 reports received), Adamawa (6), Delta (7) and Katsina States (9);
· Polling logistics problems in Akwa Ibom (14), Delta (9), Katsina (8), Rivers (11), Adamawa (6) and Sokoto (12) States;
· Cases of election related violence in Akwa Ibom (18), Abia (9), Anambra (7), Delta (9), Imo (6), Rivers (16), Benue (6), Katsina (17), Sokoto (17) and Kano States (7);
· Killings in Rivers State where seven people (including a police officer) were killed as well as in Akwa Ibom (3), Delta (2), Katsina (2).
Situation Room is further concerned about the overall conduct of the elections in Rivers and Akwa Ibom States, where there are good grounds to question the credibility of the elections results in both States.
In Rivers State, historically deep-rooted political animosities played out in a brazen, violent and naked manner to subvert the electoral process in many local governments in the State. In Akwa Ibom there were also serious questions about the veracity of the results because of reports of active and direct partisan interference with the elections. There are also concerns about Abia State, which recorded multiple cases of electoral misconduct.
We note that INEC has had to cancel elections in polling units in some States because of election-related violence and otherirregularities; while in others it has commenced investigations.
The Situation Room hereby calls on INEC to urgently take steps to clinically scrutinise the final collated results from these three States (Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia) against the polling unit results and make a reasoned judgment about them.
In our view INEC should concern itself with possible negative public perceptions of the elections in the three States and ensure that it takes every necessary step to protect the integrity of the elections in the States, as a way of strengthening the trust of the electorate in the voting process.
The Situation Room also notes and condemns in the strongest terms the leading role played by prominent public political officeholders and other politicians as well as some INEC officials in encouraging and actively taking part in organized misconduct and disorderlybehaviour that violated the sanctity of the electoral process and calls that action be taken to investigate their activities with a view to prosecuting and sanctioning them, if found culpable, under the law.
In addition, Situation Room is concerned about the weak oversight powers of the national headquarters of INEC over Resident Electoral Commissioners and State INEC offices in the management and conduct of elections. This makes it easy for compromised RECs and other State level INEC officers to undermine the credibility of the election sometimes with reckless impunity.
The Situation Room congratulates the Nigerian electorate for the collective determination to further improve our elections by turning out in their numbers to exercise their all-important franchise, thus proving themselves to be the real winners of these elections.
We further appeal to Nigerians to remain vigilant and protective of their democratic rights and feel free to cast their votes at every election.