Election monitors seek cancellation of poll

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From a group of election monitors came on Sunday a damning assessment of the elections held in Bayelsa and Kogi states on Saturday, with a call for the cancellation of the elections held in the latter state.

They urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to undertake further probe of the various allegation of violence and malpractices, including cases of “community voting” in Bayelsa, with a view to identifying perpetrators and taking appropriate steps.

The election observers, including foreign participants, acting under the aegis of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room), said these in its preliminary report, titled: “Second interim report” on the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states, released in Abuja yesterday.

In the report read by the Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Clement Nwankwo, the group warned that if nothing drastic was done, the level of violence in next governorship election in Edo State and the general elections in 2023 would be worse.

The group commended INEC for improved deployment and use of card readers, but expressed worry about the conduct of security personnel deployed and late arrival of voting materials INEC officials experienced in some areas in both states.

Part of the report reads: “The Situation Room is disappointed with the conduct of the two governorship elections that held in Kogi and Bayelsa states and worries that the elections fell below the standards expected for free and credible elections.

“With particular reference to the elections in Kogi State, the levels of violence perpetrated by the two major political parties and politicians, evident sometimes in the collusion with security personnel, seriously undermined the elections, deterred voters and made the exercise a farce.

“Accordingly, the Situation Room is calling for the cancellation of the entirety of the Kogi State elections conducted on 16 November 2019.

“The Kogi State election represents a major dent to Nigeria’s democratic process.

“The governorship elections in Bayelsa State has also witnesses serious lapses, with high levels of violence perpetrated by political parties again in collusion with security personnel and reports of ‘community voting’ – a practice whereby political parties controlling particular areas compel overwhelming votes in favour of their party.

“The Situation Room calls on INEC to fully interrogate the elections in Bayelsa State with a view to identifying the high incidences of malpractice that took place and reflect the genuine vote of the people.

“In the light of the security failures, violence, thuggery and general abuse witnessed in the elections, the Situation Room calls for an urgent passage and implementation of an Electoral Offences Commission law to address all issues related to electoral abuse.”

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