The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has called on the electoral commission, INEC, to ensure that smart card readers are utilised across the country in Saturday’s gubernatorial and State House of Assembly elections.
CDD also said in the absence of uniformed use, zero votes must be recorded in any polling unit where the card readers are not utilised.
The executive director of the centre, Idayat Hassan, said this during a press briefing titled, “Briefing Ahead Of Gubernatorial and States Houses of Assembly Elections” in Abuja on Thursday.
The governorship and states’ houses of assembly elections will hold on Saturday. Governorship elections will hold in 29 states while assembly elections will hold in all 36 states. Local government elections will also hold in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.
Ms Hassan said it is important for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to clarify its position on the cancellation of results ahead of Saturday’s elections.
INEC had earlier pledged to ensure the use of card readers across the board for Saturday’s elections contrary to what obtained during the presidential election.
Collation Of Results
”In addition, INEC should strictly and uniformly enforce all the electoral laws and guidelines across the country and mandate its officials to comply with the specified regulations and guidelines,” Ms Hassan said.
The CDD lead said result collation at the ward and local government levels in the state election must follow the legal framework and guidelines for results collation in Nigeria as set by both the Nigerian constitution and the Electoral Act.
The Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) provides the course of action for the transmission of result from polling units.
Section 63(4) requires that the presiding officer of a polling station count and announce results at the polling units and Section 65 (1) says the same officer must submit all election materials and recorded results to any person prescribed by the electoral commission in the immediate aftermath of announcing results at the unit.
Ms Hassan urged the electoral body to ensure early opening of polls and uniform poll commencement during the state elections while noting that late deployment of logistics, insufficient electoral materials and poor capacity of ad-hoc staff, were some of the characteristics of the February 23 elections.
“We also enjoin them to properly communicate collation venues and procedures to its collation officials and make available transportation, electricity et all to facilitate a seem-less collation exercise,” she said.
Intimidation Of Officials
Speaking on the intimidation of INEC officials, Ms Hassan urged the security agencies to abide by the rules of engagement and remain impartial in the forthcoming elections.
”We note that during the presidential and parliamentary elections, our observers reported cases of intimidation where personnel from the security agencies were alleged to have intimidated INEC officials and ad-hoc staff,” she said.
”In the same vein, the security personnel intimidated and in some cases assaulted observers, journalists and others. For instance, an INEC official in Okrika LGA, Rivers state, said personnel from the security forces invaded their office and snatched the results of the elections for the council, ”she said.
Speaking on the Intimidation of the electorates, Ms Hassan said CDD in strong terms condemns the do-or-die attitude of the political class or elites who sometimes use thugs to disrupt voting. The group says if politics is really to serve the people the level of brigandage experienced during the elections will be absent.
”We posit that the do or die politics is responsible for the progressive decline in voter’ turn out during the elections. As earlier noted, the national voter turnout rate dipped from 43.7% in 2015 to just 35.6% in the 2019 presidential elections,” she said.
She said the 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections held on February 23 was marred by the late arrival of election materials, violence, intimidation, collation problems and disruption by thugs among other irregularities.
”To avoid a repeat, INEC must prioritize the deployment of election materials, officials, and importantly improve her poor communication challenges ahead of the elections. The security agents must remain nonpartisan and we call on the political class to shun all forms of violence ahead of the elections,” she said.
The CDD called on eligible Nigerians to ensure they cast their vote. The fate of our country and state-level leadership would be shaped by the decisions we make, so staying away is not and would never be a solution, Ms Hassan said.
Similarly, the executive director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Rafsanjani, warned against the militarization of the elections.
He appealed to the army to steer clear off the elections so that electorates could vote freely.
Mr Rafsanjani said that the call became imperative in order to curb voter apathy.
He also urged INEC to close the logistics gap experienced in the February 23 elections to enhance the credibility of the elections.
”There should be prosecution of electoral offenders to serve as deterrent to others,” he said.
He called on Nigerians to exercise their franchise by voting for credible leaders.
PREMIUM TIMES reported some of the challenges witnessed in the presidential election.
Some of the challenges include late arrival of election materials, failure of card readers, violence and poor arrangements for collation of results across wards.
According to INEC, President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) polled 15.2 million votes to beat Atiku Abubakar of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who recorded 11.3 million votes.