An election observer group, YIAGA Africa, has announced the deployment of 114 local observers to four states ahead of the rerun elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had announced a date for the rerun elections in 28 constituencies spread across 11 states in the country.
It said elections would be conducted in Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Cross River, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Niger, Ogun and Sokoto states.
The commission added that the rerun polls, which arose from 30 petitions after the 2019 general elections, will be held on Saturday, January 20.
PREMIUM TIMES had also reported how INEC, last week, warned that the elections would not accommodate the substitution of candidates, as the process had elapsed.
Assuring Nigerians of credible elections, the commission said it will work with the security agencies to ensure adequate protection of election officials, accredited observers, and the media.
But, in a statement on Friday, the election thinktank said the rerun election serves as another test of the integrity and commitment of INEC, the police and the president, to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections.
YIAGA Africa noted that a total of 114 observers would be deployed through its Watching the Vote initiative to observe the elections in only four states- Akwa Ibom, Imo, Kano and Sokoto.
It said, “This rerun election is conducted against the background of recent marching orders given by President Buhari to the Police to ensure elections are conducted in an atmosphere devoid of violence, intimidation or malpractice.
“Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote (WTV) will on Saturday, 25th January 2020, deploy 114 observers to observe the elections in four (Akwa Ibom, Imo, Kano and Sokoto) out of eleven states where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will conduct court-ordered rerun elections.Z”
Findings & Predictions
The group warned that reports from its WTV observers indicate that the rerun election, especially in Akwa Ibom, Imo and Kano states may witness a massive low voter turnout because of the paucity of information on the elections.
It also predicted possible threats of electoral violence and insecurity “there is increasing tension in Imo State, following the ruling by the Supreme Court on the governorship election.
“Citizens are worried that this tension could linger until the elections and has the potential to escalate to physical violence if adequate security is not provided and deployed security personnel fail to act responsibly and professionally.
“In Kano, there is a possible security threat to corps members in Kiru LGA due to alleged involvement of a corps member in the death of a child.”
The group called on all electoral stakeholders to ensure a peaceful free and fair elections.
It also urged INEC to strengthen its oversight issues by ensuring a strict adherence to its guidelines, particularly the use of the Smart Card Readers.
“Yiaga Africa calls on security agencies to ensure adequate security of election materials, personnel and voters across all states, especially in Kano, Imo and Akwa Ibom.
“INEC should ensure adequate and timely deployment of personnel and materials to all polling units. The Commission should strengthen its oversight to ensure strict adherence to its guidelines, particularly the use of the Smart Card Readers for accreditation and results collation.
“Yiaga Africa also calls for effective coordination with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to efficiently address issues of vote buying and selling on election day.
“In conclusion, Yiaga Africa calls on eligible voters in the respective states to come out in their numbers with their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) to cast their votes for their preferred candidates.”