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Nigeria’s Situation Room commends conduct of Edo guber election

… calls for enforcement of laws prohibiting vote buying

The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has applauded the peaceful conduct of Edo Governorship elections held on Saturday, applauding role of the Independent National Electoral Commission (NIEC), professionalism of security agencies as well as some level of compliance on Covid-19 guidelines.

It however calls for a more effective enforcement of election laws that prohibit vote buying and other election offences, which it noted was prevalent during the exercise.

The agency in a Second Interim Statement on Edo State Governorship Election 2020 signed by Clement Nwankwo, convener, said it was issuing this statement following its observation of the Edo State Governorship election held on Saturday, September 19, 2020, from the commencement of polls to the collation of results.

According to the agency, “Overall, the Edo State governorship election was violence free to the relief of stakeholders who had feared that the violence laden rhetoric of the election participants could pose a threat to peaceful elections.”

The agency said, “It is noteworthy that efforts at mediating peace and reducing political tension mounted by INEC, the Police, the National Peace Committee, the Benin Monarch, the Oba of Benin and civil society groups paid off. These peace efforts commend themselves to future elections.”

The Situation Room also commended INEC for introducing the Covid-19 protocols to address public health concerns caused by the crisis of coronavirus, and urged a greater effort at enforcing the protocols ahead of future elections.

It also observed that the incidence of vote buying during the election was high, and therefore called for a more effective enforcement of election laws that prohibit vote buying and other election offences.

“Situation Room calls on the National Assembly to move quickly and urgently proceed with legislative action to ensure the passage of the Electoral Offences Commission Bill that creates a body to enforce respect for election laws.

“Situation Room calls on INEC to deepen and expand the use of its Election Result Viewing portal in order to increase the transparency of Nigeria’s elections.”

The agency further commended INEC for conducting a much improved governorship election in Edo State, urging the Commission to ensure that the progress made with improvements in its conduct of the election were deepened and sustained during the Ondo State Governorship Election scheduled for October 10, 2020.

“The usual issues cited such as logistical challenges and overbearing security presence were less of an issue in this election, although the challenge of vote buying/trading was still prevalent. This election was faced by a never before seen challenge of Covid-19 and efforts were made to ensure the safety of persons, although a lot more can be done to ensure compliance. This election showed that Nigeria can learn from previous setbacks in its electoral process and take a step towards achieving credible elections.”

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), Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), CITAD, Enough is Enough Nigeria, WANGONET, Partners for Electoral Reform, JDPC and Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA).

Others are Development Dynamics, Stakeholder Democracy Network, Human Rights Monitor, Reclaim Naija, Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE), CISLAC, The Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR), Young Innovators and Vocational Training Initiative, EdoCSOs, CONGOs Edo State, Brave Heart Initiative, Partners West Africa and several other CSOs numbering more than seventy.

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