Nigerians Must Hold INEC Accountable to Conduct Free, Fair Elections, Say Situation Room

* Lists 7 states as flash points of violence

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Nigeria Civil Society Coalition, (Situation Room) has said Nigerians should hold the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) accountable to conduct free and fair Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections tomorrow.
In a bid to help prevent disruption of the electoral process, the coalition identified violent-prone areas to include Lagos, Rivers, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and Kano.

Situation Room said INEC was expected to have taken lessons from the challenges experienced during the presidential and National Assembly elections and must have made adequate arrangements to forestall the recurrence of the gaps observed during the elections.
Speaking at a media briefing to mark the reconvening of Situation Room for the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections, the Convener, Ene Obi said Nigerians expect that the glitches that led to the malfunctioning of the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) ought to have been resolved
She said Nigerians should demand that officials of INEC be prosecuted if they fail to adhere strictly to the constitutionally allowed process in the conduct of Saturday’s polls.

“We are holding them accountable because some of impunities keep occurring during elections because Nigerians are not holding these INEC officials accountable for their actions. There is no way government will spend so much money to acquire new technology and then you go back to the old manual process.

“Situation Room expects that the glitches that led to the malfunctioning of the INEC IReV have been resolved and that the issues that occasioned the inability of the Commission to conduct elections in some polling units and late opening of polls in others have been addressed.
“In particular, the Situation Room calls on INEC to address the shortages in the number of ad hoc staff available for the elections, make adequate transportation arrangements, conduct additional training for the ad hoc staff, and promptly reconfigure and deploy the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and other materials required for the elections. Most importantly, ensure that it communicates in a timely manner to the public on any challenges or changes made to the electoral process,” she said.

Obi said it was important to remind the electoral body that the result of any election was as important as the process used to arrive at such outcome.
Ahead of the Saturday’s elections, the civil society organisation said the security situation across the country appeared tense, with reports of violence, kidnap and assassination in several States including Lagos, Rivers, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and Kano.
Obi lamented the harassment and physical violence unleashed on female candidates in the ongoing elections, adding that the security agencies owed it a duty to provide maximum protection for female candidates.

“As such, Situation Room reminds the Nigeria Police and other security agencies that they have a primary responsibility to guarantee the safety and security of election officials as well as other election stakeholders, including voters, polling agents, election observers, the media and service providers.
“Security agencies should take adequate measures to forestall the recurrence of acts of voter suppression, disruption of voting, and outright violence experienced in some places during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“Furthermore the Situation Room calls on the Nigeria Police and other security agencies to ensure that they are non-partisan, professional and will avoid any actions capable of being interpreted as acting in support of any political interest,” she said.

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