Issued 12.00pm: Thursday, 7th March 2019
On Saturday 9th March 2019, Nigerians will come out to vote at State level elections into Governorship and State Assembly positions. Governorships elections will hold in 29 States while State Assembly elections will hold in the 36 States and the F.C.T will elect Chairmen and Councillors of the six area councils in the territory.
The election is coming against the background of Presidential and National Assembly elections that took place on 23rd February 2019 and a tense electoral environment. Situation Room had issued statements on the 23rd February 2019 elections raising concerns that the elections did not meet the minimum standards and thresholds outlined in its “Threshold Document” for credible elections issued in January 2019. It is our expectation that INEC and other election stakeholders including security agencies will make every effort to improve on the quality and credibility of the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Accordingly Situation Room hereby outlines its expectations for the State level elections as follows:
INEC and Election Administration: Situation Room expects an improved administration and management of the 9th March State level elections and asks the INEC to take steps to hold its staff to account for any partisan activities or behaviour. Situation Room also calls on INEC to resist pressure form partisan political interests that could derogate on the conduct of free and fair elections.
INEC had committed not to yield to pressure from politicians seeking transfer of specific Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) with replacements of amenable RECs to compromise the elections. We expect INEC to follow through with this commitment.
Situation Room notes the recent statement by INEC regarding the use of the Smart Card Readers in the state elections. We welcome INEC’s insistence that no election will hold without the Card Readers. However, given the many concerns raised regarding the use of card readers in the presidential and national assembly elections, the Situation Room calls on INEC to immediately release publicly the data captured by the card readers to ensure utmost transparency in the election process. This data should include the number of partial and full accreditation across the 36 states including the FCT.
Situation Room also calls on INEC to limit the abuse in the collation process as happened in the 23rd February 2019 by taking steps to carry out an effective and transparent collation of results, open and with unfettered access to centres. INEC should also enforce the provisions of its guidelines that restrict the role of security agents to that of providing security for its officials, party agents and observers rather than reported incidents in previous elections where security agents became active participants in collation and sometimes undermined it. Arising from the high number of cancelled votes, it is important that INEC clearly clarifies to voters the criteria for vote cancellations.
Security Agencies and concerns over partisanship: Situation Room notes the worrying trend of increased and excessive involvement of the Military and security officials in elections in Nigeria. These concerns have mountedfollowing from the 23rd February 2019 elections. Situation Room will like to restate the provisions of S. 29 (3) of the Electoral Act which states that the “deployment of Nigeria Armed forces for elections shall be at the request of INEC and only for the purpose of distribution and delivery of election materials and protection of election officials”. Situation Room calls on the Armed Forces to restrict themselves to these responsibilities as defined by INEC and the electoral law.
Situation Room calls on the security agencies to ensure that it provides adequate security for the elections and in a manner that does not allow or encourage violence to be used as a tool for vote suppression.
Political Parties: Situation Room calls on political parties participating in the Governorship and State Assembly elections to take part in the elections devoid of perpetrating violence, vote buying or other electoral malpractices. Situation Room also calls on the parties to make sure their party agents are represented at every level of the elections.
Conclusion:- Situation Room expects that INEC and indeed all stakeholders in the electoral process would have taken lessons from the challenges of the Presidential and National Assembly elections held on 23rd February 2019 and work towards delivering peaceful and credible State level elections.
Clement Nwankwo – Executive Director, Policy & Legal Advocacy Centre & Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room
The Situation Room is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria and includes such groups as Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Proactive Gender Initiative (PGI) Enough is Enough Nigeria, WANGONET, Partners for Electoral Reform, JDPC and YIAGA Africa Others are Development Dynamics, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN), Human Rights Monitor, Reclaim Naija, CITAD, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE), CISLAC, and several other CSOs numbering more than seventy.
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