Our Election Observation Missions Don’t Interfere in Electoral Process, EU Replies El-Rufai

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

The European Union has said its election observation missions are impartial and adhere strictly to its core principle of non interference in the electoral process of any country particularly the forthcoming election in Nigeria.

The EU’s assurance was occasioned by a statement from Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasiru El-Rufai, who had in a television broadcast Tuesday evening threatened foreign nationals who may interfere with the forthcoming elections.

Reacting, the EU EOM in a statement by its Press Officer, Sarah Fradgley, Wednesday said the EU only go to countries to observe elections on invitation, adding that they are in Nigeria based on the fact that the government of Nigeria extended invitation to them to monitor the elections.

“We are aware of the comments by the Governor of Kaduna about non-interference by foreigners during a talk show on the elections Tuesday 5 February.

“The EU only deploys an election observation mission when it is invited to do so by the authorities of a country. The EU has been invited to observe all of the general elections in Nigeria since 1999”, the statement said, adding that this is the sixth time the EU is observing elections in Nigeria.

Fradgley said while the EU missions give commentary and analysis, and make recommendations about the electoral process, the “EU election observation missions are impartial, do not interfere in the electoral process, and operate according to a strict code of conduct”.

The statement noted that the security of EU observers was of paramount importance, and will remain under constant review, adding that the EU observers will continue their work across the country in the run-up to – and beyond – the February 16 elections.

“For the last month the mission’s team in Abuja, as well as 40 long-term observers across the country, have followed the elections. We have met with a wide range of candidates, parties, election officials, security agencies, and civil society organisations, and have enjoyed good cooperation at federal and state levels.

“The mission looks at all aspects of the election, including the campaign tone, the transparency of the election administration, the neutrality of security forces, and the independence of the judiciary” the statement added.

El-Rufai was quoted as saying, “Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person that would come and intervene, they would go back in body bags”.

The governor argued that Nigeria’s sovereignty was sacrosanct and the country also respects other nation’s sovereignty. He said Nigeria only intervened militarily in other countries (Liberia and Sierra Leone) when it had international mandate to do so.