The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) in its report on the 2019 general elections said that the polls held across Nigeria were marred by irregularities.
EU EOM in its report presented on Saturday noted that several challenges were faced in the last elections.
According to the group, the 2019 general elections were “marked by severe operational and transparency shortcomings, electoral security problems and low turnout.”
It further added that; “Inconsistent numbers during collation, “lack of clear checks and explanations, and insufficient public information undermined the integrity of the elections.
The EU EOM also rebuked the abuse of incumbency at federal and state levels during the elections.
It also faulted INEC for not providing centralised information on the declared results, saying that the electoral body months after the election has not published complete results on its website.
Speaking further on INEC’s role in the elections, the EU EOM berated that the electoral body for failing to provide sufficient public information in line with international standards.
It further stated that the discrepancies observed in the level of voter turnout shows the need for electoral reform.
The European body consequently called for reforms in the nation’s electoral system ahead of the 2023 general elections.
It also presented 30 recommendations on the reformation of Nigeria’s electoral process ahead of next general elections (with7 needing priority considerations).
Arena during the presentation of the report alongside her deputy, Hannah Roberts, said that the reforms in the electoral process required political leadership dedicated to the rights of Nigerians, national dialogue involving state institutions, parties, civil society and the media.
She noted that it needs to be done urgently to give room for debate, legislative amendments and implementation ahead of the 2023 general polls.
The 7 priority areas includes; strengthening INEC procedures for the collation of results to improve integrity and confidence in electoral outcomes, strengthening of INEC’s organisational and operational capacity, strengthening of its internal communication, establishment of requirements in law for full results transparency with data accessible to the public.
The group in its final report presented in Abuja by Maria Arena, the EU Chief Observer, noted that lack of transparency and inconsistent numbers in the collation of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), cast doubt over the integrity of the 2019 elections.
“The EU observed 94 collation centres. In almost all, the results forms and smart card readers were not packed in tamper-evident envelopes as required.
“Numerical discrepancies and anomalies on polling unit results forms were identified and were mostly corrected by collation officers on the spot, but without a clear system of record-keeping,” the EU EOM stated in the report.
EU EOM noted that overall, the 2019 elections were marked by several operational and transparency shortcomings, security problems and low voters participation.
The European elections observation body also rebuked the suspension of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen by President Muhammadu Buhari few weeks to the general elections, saying that Buhari’s action lacked due process and also undermined the judicial independence.
Buhari is the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the presidential election.
He was declared winner of the presidential poll by INEC, but his closest challenger, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the former ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), however vehemently rejected the results declared by INEC.
Atiku alleged that he is the true winner according to results he got from INEC’s central server. He also cited some irregularities in the elections.
The electoral body had however since denied collating results electronically, saying that the results allegedly obtained by Atiku were false because there is no server where results were stored.
Ibrahim Kenneth Suleiman is the Chief Political Editor at Naija Buzz News Network. He is a graduate of political science from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State. He specializes in preparing/approving of political news contents before publication. He currently heads Naija Buzz News team of political writers. From Nasarawa State, North-Central Nigeria, Ibrahim is a strong supporter of Manchester United Football Club England.