By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has asked for an independent inquiry into the conduct of the 2019 Nigeria general elections in order unearth the anomalies that affected its credibility and those responsible for the malpractices recorded during the poll.
The observer group said that there must be individual accountability for violence and manipulating of the election process.
Situation Room had earlier said out of the eight criteria and threshold spelt out for the measurement of the credibility of the 2019 Nigeria elections, five of them show significant non-compliance.
In a statement read to journalists at a press conference held on Sunday in Abuja, the Executive Director, Policy & Legal Advocacy Centre and Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Mr. Clement Nwankwo said an independent inquiry is needed to address amongst other issues; procurement, logistics management, role of the military and abuse of process by INEC officials.
“In the light of the serious shortcomings with the elections, Situation Room calls for an independent Inquiry into the conduct of the 2019 Nigeria General Elections. This independent inquiry should address amongst other issues; procurement, logistics management, role of the military and abuse of process by INEC officials,” it said.
According to the Situation Room, a nonpartisan probe is urgently needed to identify challenges and recommendations towards repairing the damaged credibility of Nigeria’s electoral process.
On the alleged malfeasance committed by security agents, especially the military men during the elections, Situation Room said the probe panel must ensure that individuals found capable are made to account for violence and manipulating of the election process.
The Situation Room said the militarisation of the country’s electoral process is a troubling one, adding that it was not just the presence of military officials, but the actions of our intelligence agencies, the use of the military by the political class and the partisanship and non-recourse to rules of engagement of our armed forces.
It cited examples of reports of excessive military involvement in the elections, particularly in the South-South and South-East – Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Imo.
“This is a collective duty for all law enforcement agencies in Nigeria. We cannot as country afford to permit this level of impunity and disruption of the election process. INEC should lead on this and transparently inform Nigerians where it encounters challenges.
“The number of fatalities around these elections is unacceptable. Voters, INEC officials and security agencies have lost their lives. We call for reasonably packaged compensation to families who have lost lives in these elections.
“NEC officials and security agents who have suffered physical and psychological injuries must be supported and rehabilitated,” it said.
The Situation Room also urged INEC to take the lead in pushing for reforms in the electoral process, adding that of immediate importance is the need for INEC to call out publicly institutions, individuals and events that may have undermined its ability to carry out its mandate.
The election observer group said it is also important that INEC is honest in admitting its own failures.