- YIAGA Africa's Watching The Vote (WTV) has issued a statement on INEC's preparedness for the rescheduled 2019 elections
- The election observer group says it is concerned with reports of shortfalls in sensitive and non-sensitive materials
- The group, however, commended the openness of INEC especially in sharing information with stakeholders
Election observer group, YIAGA Africa's Watching The Vote (WTV) has issued a statement on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)'s preparedness for the rescheduled 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections.
The group hailed INEC for implementing its operational plan following the postponement of the election, but expressed concerns with reports of shortfalls in sensitive and non-sensitive materials distributed by INEC nationwide ahead of the polls.
The group's stance was made known at a press briefing on Thursday, February 21 addressed by board member of YIAGA Africa, Aisha Abdullahi.
Following their observation, YIAGA Africa noted the following;
1. Openness of INEC
YIAGA Africa commends the commitment of INEC to sharing information with stakeholders through the daily briefing by the INEC chairman. This daily briefing has availed citizens with adequate information on INEC’s preparations.
INEC should maintain this briefing throughout the 2019 elections and it should be replicated at the state and local government by Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) and Electoral Officers. (EO) INEC must ensure a high degree of transparency at all levels.
However, reports received by YIAGA Africa indicates that some RECs and EOs are reluctant to share information with relevant stakeholders on the state of INEC’s preparedness for the elections.
2. Deployment of Election Material
YIAGA Africa is concerned with reports of shortfalls in sensitive and non-sensitive materials like results sheets, stamps and indelible ink. We are also worried with reported cases of mistakes in the deployment of materials to some states.
To avert confusion and crisis, INEC needs to ensure a comprehensive open and inclusive audit of retrieved materials. Where materials have been wrongly deployed to states, INEC should ensure the materials are redeployed. In the event of shortfalls, INEC should engage local vendors to print materials to address reported cases of shortfalls.
3. Violence, Hate Speech and Misinformation
YIAGA Africa notes a surge in the propagation of hate speech, fake news and misinformation following the postponement of the election. This portends great danger to peace and national security.
Electoral stakeholders especially candidates and political party leaders should refrain from heating up the polity as Nigeria is on a fringe of a potential electoral conflict if caution is not exercised.
4. Election Security
Security agencies should exercise their functions within constitutional limits. The rights of citizens must be respected before, during and after the elections. YIAGA Africa reminds all security agencies involved in election security operations that the 2010 Electoral Act as amended prescribes electoral offences and sanctions.
Therefore, it will be unconstitutional and a disregard of the rule of law to invoke sanctions not prescribed by law for electoral offences.
YIAGA Africa deployed a total of 3,906 election observers throughout the country for the election. The group also deployed observers to the state collation centres in every state.
This deployment will enable YIAGA Africa to provide the most timely and accurate information on the opening of polls; the conduct of accreditation and voting; and the counting, announcement and posting of results throughout the country.
The group called on Nigerians, political parties and candidates, INEC and security agencies to also play their parts to ensure a peaceful, credible and inclusive process.
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