INTERIM STATEMENT BY THE NIGERIA CIVIL SOCIETY SITUATION ROOM ON COMMENCEMENT OF POLLS IN THE PRESIDENTIAL AND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS 23 FEBRUARY 2019
ISSUED: 3:00PM; SATURDAY, 23RD FEBRUARY 2019
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has observed the commencement of the Presidential and National Assembly polls throughout the country, today, Saturday 23rd February, 2019.
Reports from across the country indicate worrying amounts of challenges that require the attention of the Independent National Electoral Commission and security address as polling sets to close.
The Situation Room notes with disappointment the impact of INEC’s logistical lapses on the elections. Several parts of the country report late opening of polls. According to YIAGA Africa, South East and South South recorded the lowest number of early poll openings. About 27 percent of polling units had opened as at 10 am in the South East. In the South South, it was only 21 percent. The average across other parts of the country was about 45 percent as at 10 am. The late arrival of materials and ad-hoc staff account for much of the delay in polls opening across the country. In some places, voting started around 11 am. The delay in the commencement of vote will certainly affect the collation process, which is now feared to extend well into the night, with attendant security risks and further logistics concerns.
Smart Card Reader Failures
Reports of smart readers failure are significant in this election. Situation Room received reports of several instances of smart card reader failure which have necessitated INEC officials resorting to manual accreditation. This was reported in Binji Local Government Area in Sokoto state and Owerri North LGA in Imo state. States where card reader challenge is prevalent also include, Imo, Lagos, Ogun, Abia, Nasarawa, Kebbi, FCT and Kaduna. The Situation Room restates, strongly, that there should be no voting without proper card reader authentication.
Conduct of Security Personnel
Situation Room has received isolated reports of security personnel acting in an overreaching manner in some states, particularly Rivers, Akwai Ibom, Delta and Kogi States.
Reports of Violence and Deaths
The Situation Room notes with concern the rising incidences of violence and reported deaths in some states of the country. At the time of this statement, Situation Room has received reports of about 16 deaths across eight states: Borno – 2, Bayelsa – 2, Rivers – 6, Yobe – 2, Kogi -2, Ebonyi – 2, Lagos – 1, and Zamfara – 1. In Lagos State, there are reports of disruption of voting by suspected political thugs who have shot in the air in some places and set ballot boxes and paper on fire in others. In the Okota, Isolo and Oshodi suburbs of Lagos, there are reports of violence, some caused by non-arrival of INEC officials and materials. Situation Room calls on INEC and the security agencies respond swiftly to these issues and arrest culprits as promised by the Inspector General of Police.
Incidences of Vote Buying
The Situation Room has received reports of incidents of vote buying across Lagos, Niger, Edo, Kwara, Kano and Katsina States. The Situation Room calls on INEC and security agencies to nip this practise in the bud before it undermines the sanctity of the vote. We also wish to highlight the inadequacy of security personnel in some polling units. We note that in some polling units there was only one police officer while in others, in addition to the prescribed three per polling unit, there were other security personnel totalling up to 10.
Nigerians have defied various challenges to exercise their civic responsibility, we call on INEC to do everything to ensure that voters are not disenfranchised and to quickly address outstanding logistical challenge. The Situation Room calls on voters to continue to be law abiding and to report through appropriate channels, challenges with the process.
Clement Nwankwo – Executive Director, Policy a& Legal Advocacy Centre & Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room
The Situation Room is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria and includes such groups as Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Proactive Gender Initiative (PGI) Enough is Enough Nigeria, WANGONET, Partners for Electoral Reform, JDPC and YIAGA Africa Others are Development Dynamics, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Stakeholders Democracy Network, Human Rights Monitor, Reclaim Naija, CITAD, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE), CISLAC, and several other CSOs numbering more than seventy.
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