By Raphael Jov
The International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) joint election observation report has indicted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Nigerian military and political parties over the poor conduct of the 2019 general elections.
IRI/NDI in the joint report released on Tuesday in Abuja observed that in the February and March general elections, essential materials were not delivered on time and the poll workers arrived late, delaying the opening of polling units in many parts of the country.
According to the report, the late opening of polling units led to the extension of voting hours and in many polling units, voting and continued late into the night, giving room for manipulation of results and other irregularities.
It also alleged that the last minute postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections on February 16 depressed voter turnout, created confusion about duration of candidate and party campaign and undermined the public confidence in INEC.
The IRI/NDI report while decrying what it termed, ‘militarization’ of the electoral process, stated that, “the military disrupted the polls in some areas, including Rivers state, where soldiers deployed heavily around INEC offices, leading to the suspension of vote collation.
“These disruptions contributed to many cancelled votes, inconclusive election results and the need to conduct supplementary elections for some contests.
The report further accused political parties which through their agents and supporters disrupted voting, intimidated voters, destroyed voting materials, acted with impunity in assisting voters to mark their ballots, violating the secrecy of the ballot and buying of votes.
It recommended amongst others that, Nigeria should pursue a comprehensive, inclusive and expeditious electoral reform process, INEC should adopt more transparent procedures for the tabulation, transmission and announcement of results while security agencies should enforce electoral laws by investigating and prosecuting perpetrators of election related criminal acts.