2019 Presidential Poll: NDI, IRI Report Show Election Was Rigged -PDP …Nigeria Must Enforce Electoral Laws …Elections Not Transparent, CACOL Affirms

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Peoples Democratic Party

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday said the report by the National Democratic Institute, NDI, and the International Republican Institute, IRI warning of possible apathy in future elections shows that the 2019 Presidential poll was rigged in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The party stated this in reaction to the report on the 2019 election by the United States of America based institutions, which was publicly presented in Abuja last Tuesday.
In a chat with newsmen, Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Diran Odeyemi described as shameful the fact that “it is foreign observers that have told us the errors in our electoral system and democracy.”
According to him: “The report vindicates the position of our party that the electoral system is in danger and democracy is under threat. The Presidential election was rigged and that is why we are at the tribunal to prove to the world that the election failed credibility test.
“Buhari has muzzled the judiciary and we all remember the way the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen was eased out of the way. Now he has imposed Tanko Mohammed. Last week, they imposed their preferences of leaders at the National Assembly in the persons of Senator Ahmed Lawan and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, all in a bid to have their way all the time. We will retrieve our mandate.”
Meanwhile, the Joint Nigeria International Election Observer Mission, the International Republican Institute, IRI and National Democratic Institute, NDI, jointly presented the final report on the 2019 general elections, saying that it has become very imperative for Nigeria as a country to put in place, measures that would help strengthen the electoral system.
The Observers have urged the the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to start the process of conducting five Presidential elections that would adjudged free, fair and credible and not only preparing for 2023 election.
According to IRI and NDI, if Nigeria as a country must get it right in areas of party politics and the conduct of its elections right, there was the urgent need for national dialogue, an opportunity for stakeholders to brainstorm on elections in Nigeria and come up with an acceptable blueprint.
Speaking yesterday at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja during the presentation of the report, Elizabeth Lewis of IRI and Dr. Christopher Formunyoh of NDI called on INEC to come up with measures where there will be the enforcement of electoral laws that would help in the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of election related criminal acts.
They said that INEC should thoroughly investigate and prosecute election officials who engaged in electoral offenses, just as they asked security agencies, including the military to investigate and sanction security personnel who violated rules of engagement during the 2019 elections.
In the report, the Observers also advised on having a workable legal framework and election dispute resolution technique that would enable the electoral body, INEC and political stakeholders pursue a comprehensive, inclusive and expeditious electoral reform process.
The Observers have also called for the establishment of time limits for the adjudication of pre-election petitions to ensure that judgements are rendered before election day and early enough not to interfere with INEC’s election preparations.
The report was a comprehensive analysis of the electoral process and it included important recommendations ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The report read, “the 2019 general elections highlighted for many Nigerians the need for a national conversation about the country’s democratisation since the 1999 transition to civilian rule. We hope this report may both spur and contribute to enriching that national conversation.”
Other recommendations in the report included early preparation for elections so as to mitigate against and last minute shortcomings, just as they called on INEC to continue to improve coordination between security agencies on the provision of Electoral security, adding that the process of constituency delimitation and identification of necessary polling units at least one year before the next elections.
Responding to the observations and recommendations, the National Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said “the Commission will study your recommendations in detail and will continue to partner with you to improve the electoral and democratic processes in Nigeria.”
“We have already embarked on our own internal reviews. Your report is coming at the right time. I wish to assure you that we will implement aspects of your recommendations that require administrative action by the Commission beginning with the forthcoming Bayelsa and Kogi Governorship elections scheduled for 16th November 2019.”
Yakubu also assured that the commission will work with other institutions on aspects of the recommendations that require consequential action beyond the mandate of the Commission.”
The INEC boss who noted that the joint team IRI and NDI were among the 39 Foreign organisations accredited by the Commission to observe the 2019 general elections, said, the joint team reportedly deployed 40 international observers to 16 States of the Federation for the Presidential and National Assembly elections and 20 international observers to 10 States of the Federation for the Governorship and State Assembly elections.
“You observed the 2019 general elections on the invitation of INEC. Your long-term and continuous presence in the country means that our partnership with you predated the 2019 general election and will hopefully continue to the next general elections and beyond.”
Meanwhile, the Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), has told President Muhammadu Buhari that it was duly informed that the 2019 general elections lacked transparency.
The group called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and the Federal Government to reform the nation’s electoral process.
This was contained in a statement signed by CACOL Executive Chairman, Debo Adeniran, and made available to newsmen, yesterday.
The statement reads, “According to the reports and information at our disposal, lack of transparency and inconsistent numbers during the collation of results by the INEC cast a long spell over the integrity of the 2019 elections.
“Numerical discrepancies and anomalies on polling unit results forms were identified and were mostly corrected by collation officers on the spot, but without a clear system of record-keeping.
“Also, leading parties were at fault in not reining in acts of violence and intimidation by their supporters and abuse of incumbency at federal and state levels.
“Inconsistent numbers during collation, lack of clear checks and explanations, and insufficient public information undermined, to a large extent, the integrity of the elections.
“Citizens did not have sufficient means to scrutinize results. INEC did not provide centralized information on the declared results for the different locations and has not posted complete results data on its website.
“Similarly, there was a lack of disaggregated results by local governments, wards or polling units, which would allow thorough checking of results. All of these are not meant to happen and we seriously concur with international observers’ position that, the discrepancies coupled with insufficient public information were not in line with international standards, especially on access to information and public accountability.
“According to the European Union (EU) report, it was noted that such reform needs political leadership that is dedicated to the rights of Nigerian citizens, and an inclusive process of national dialogue involving state institutions, parties, civil society and the media.
“This needs to be urgently undertaken to allow time for debate, legislative changes and implementation, well in advance of the next elections. It was added that INEC should considerably strengthen its organizational and operational capacity as well as its internal communication, noting that the inter-agency body responsible for electoral security should work more transparently and inclusively with regular consultations with political parties and civil society.
“The mission said the seven areas of priorities for electoral reform included requirements in law for full results transparency with data easily accessible to the public.
“In similar spirit, we aver that the EU recommendation calling for the introduction of a legal requirement for parties to have a minimum representation of women among candidates, faulting the low number of female candidates for the polls is in good taste as it rhymes with the global policy of inclusiveness and affirmative action towards rebuilding the nation for progress and sanity.
“We agree too that election tribunals should cover pre-election cases in order to improve access to remedy and to avoid petitions being taken to different courts, all at the same time.
“One of the best ways of getting around the inevitability of these proposed reforms is for this government to consider the political reforms bill sent in by the last Legislature by dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s while it works with all Nigerian citizens, state institutions, parties, civil society, the media and other experts to make sure that these and other recommendations by the EU, other cognate institutions are implemented, and with areas of concern adequately addressed.”