Press Conference Statement on the Just Concluded 2019 General Election

21 March 2019 by Election Reports 208 Views
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‘I Report’ PLATFORM is an offshoot of CIEPD’s ‘Conflict Watch Centre’ (CWC) established as a space for real-time reporting of elections incidents by credible civil society organisations and individuals. The ‘I Report’ PLATFORM also tracks the trends and patterns of electoral incidences, analyses the consequences of impact of the reported incidence and comes up with appropriate strategies for intervention.

The ‘I Report’ PLATFORM observed the 2019 Governorship and House of Assembly Elections held on Saturday, 9th of March 2019 in 29 states of the Federation. The Platform focused majorly on Rivers State and received pockets of reports from Akwa Ibom State, Imo State, Bayelsa and Cross River States. As such, this reporting is majorly based on real time reports from areas we effectively covered in Rivers State.

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The ‘I Report’ PLATFORM commends INEC for the early dispatch of complete election materials in the Port Harcourt Axis of Rivers State and a majority of the Local Government Areas, except Bakana and Khana where materials arrived late at about12noon.

The ‘I Report’ PLATFORM also commends Traditional Rulers in Bonny Kingdom and Abonema amongst others, who ensured peace accords in their community, which led to a very peaceful electioneering process as was suggested in our statement on

The ‘I Report’ PLATFORM observed the failure of card readers in some polling units and consequent reversion to manual accreditation which is usually characterised by multiple voting and malpractices.

The I Report PLATFORM observed scanty presence of Election Observers during the 9th March election. This we learnt was as a result of lack of funding for observers to be engaged for the Governorship and State Assembly. It therefore seems that donor funding focused more on Presidential Election and National Assembly than the Governorship and state House of Assembly elections.

The ‘I Report’ PLATFORM noticed widespread voter apathy occasioned by fear of insecurity/Violence and questions on credibility of the entire electioneering process amongst others.

The turnout of especially women was drastically reduced compared to the Presidential/ National Assembly elections.

The ‘I Report’ PLATFORM received reports of engagement of partisan persons as ad-hoc staff (Electoral Officers) in the conduct of the election in Rivers State, which negates the concept of independence of INEC. This from the reports we received contributed to some of the electoral incidences that were experienced in Rivers State.

The Platform is also very much concerned with the inefficiency of some INEC ad hoc Staff to operate the card reader and follow INEC established due process. We continued to receive reports of ad hoc staff lack of good knowledge of the process even after recommending that INEC retrain their staff for the 9th February election in the statement that we issued them. Lack of good knowledge of the process can most times brew contentious disposition which can escalate to violence if not well handled.

The Platform observed issues of multiple voting, voting by proxy.

The ‘I Report’ PLATFORM fully supports the suspension of the collation process by INEC on the good reasoning that the said suspension doused the escalating tension and violence in the polity and arrested the massive interference and disruption of the process by hoodlums, politicians and armed men.

'The ‘I Report’ PLATFORM commends the Nigeria Army for aiding the Nigerian Police to ensure security and order in the election process, which averted the kind of blood bath witnessed in the previous 2015 Elections.

However, The I Report PLATFORM received several reports of electoral malpractices (ballot snatching, illegal invasion of collation centers, intimidation of voters and INEC officials etc) carried out by men of the Nigerian Army.

The PLATFORM is aware that S. 217 (2c) of The Nigerian Constitution (As Amended) allows the military to aid civil authorities to ensure order in society at the Order of The President. However, they are to operate professionally within the ambits of the law and nothing more pretentious or outrageous. The PLATFORM is therefore requesting that INEC sets up a Panel of Inquiry to determine the undue involvement of The Nigeria Army and The Nigeria Police in the 2019 General Elections.

Finally, we must categorically state, that the entire 2019 elections did not record remarkable improvement from the previous elections but repeated the same scenario of violence, irregularities, intimidation by men in uniform, vote-buying, cult activities and other violent acts perpetrated especially during counting, and collation of votes in the various collation centers

 

Conclusively, we recommend as follows;

  1. 1. That, Military and Police personnel working on election matters on Election Day should be properly tagged for easy identification. This is because, ‘men in uniform’ use their ‘authority’ to assist different politicians from different political parties and intimidate perceived opponents of their ‘pay masters.
  2. 2. That the law against cultism and other related offences should be revitalised and perpetrator made to face the law. Cultists must not be compensated and cultism must not be seen to be relevant. Individuals known as cultists must not be given political appointments and other public positions of trust.
  3. 3. That effort must not be spared to reduce election violence in order to restore confidence in the electoral process and enable more voters participate in voting. The relevant authorities must mop up arms in the hands of undesirable elements in the society in order to drastically reduce violence before, during and after elections.
  4. 4. That all persons engaged as staff or ad-hoc staff of INEC must undertake oath of neutrality in line with S. 28 of The Electoral Act and must be seen to be neutral. Persons who are partisan, who lie on oath, be charged to court for Perjury. Security operatives must also swear to the same oath of neutrality.
  5. 5. The prosecution and sanction of any person found committing any electoral offence whatsoever.
  1. 6. That a judicial inquiry into the deaths of persons in Rivers State especially in Khana LGA be set up....
  2. 7. That more person and organizations be accredited to observe the entire process of our elections especially counting and collation.
  3. 8. That independent monitors who have the right to direct INEC staff on the field be engaged in every ward for proper monitoring and control of the process
  4. 9. That the process of electoral reform kick-starts immediately in order to ensure better credible Elections in the future.
  5. 10. That there be a strong shift from manual voting to electronic voting in order to eliminate manual collation and Reduce Violence.

List of Organizations

  • Community Initiative for Enhanced Peace and Development (CIEPD)
  • Youth Rescue International Development Organization (YRIDO)
  • Youth Alliance on Constitution and Electoral Reform (YACOR)
  • Lekeh Development Foundation (LEDEF)
  • Ogoni Joint Youth Leaders Council
  • Leading and serving without bitterness initiative
  • Ofure Centre for Peace and Development
  • Support Initiative for Sustainable Development (SISDEV)
  • Applicants Welfare & Development Centre
  • Center for Environment Media and Development Communication, (CEMEDE)
  • Manpower Development and Environmental Protection Initiative
  • Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (IHRHL)
  • Initiative for Sustainable Peace and Entrepreneurial Development
  • Imitative for Community Development (ICD)
  • Initiative! Centre for Social Transformation and Human Development
  • Anpez Center for Environment and Development

 Signed:ED signature

Egondu Esinwoke

On behalf of the above organizations

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CIEPD

The Conflict Watch Center (CWC) is an intervention of the Community Initiative for Enhanced Peace and Development designed to identify, track and report on conflict early warning signs in the Niger Delta.

Website: www.ciepdcwc.org

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