Yiaga Africa has called on the National Assembly to accelerate the process of electoral reform, especially the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission to promptly and diligently prosecute electoral offenders.
Samson Itodo, the executive director of Yiaga Africa, made the call in the final report on the Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi in Abuja.
Itodo said the process should include fundamentally reforming the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the attitude of politicians to elections.
Yiaga Africa also called on INEC to urgently review and conduct a comprehensive audit of the Imo governorship election results to inspire confidence in the process and its outcome.
He said INEC should thoroughly investigate all the allegations of malpractices and misapplication of election laws and guidelines and remediate all the flaws including prosecuting its staff for complicity.
“Increasingly, more voters are tactically disenfranchised for conduct that is not within their control. INEC should review its policy to ensure that eligible voters across all polling units are given an equal opportunity to vote.
“This includes policy reviews that ensure that voters in polling units where elections are suspended or cancelled for electoral malpractice or logistical challenges are given an opportunity to vote,” he said.
He noted that though Yiaga Africa observed a marked improvement in the management of election logistics across the three states, it, however, noticed some irregularities.
He added that the elections in Kogi and Imo reaffirmed the lack of commitment to democratic principles and credible elections on the part of electoral stakeholders.
According to him, the zero-sum attitude to electoral politics undermines electoral integrity and citizens’ right to elect leaders.
“These off-cycle elections were to test the commitment of key democratic institutions such as INEC, security agencies and the executive to restore public confidence in the electoral process.
“Yiaga Africa is concerned about the continuous decline in the quality of our elections and the penchant to lower the integrity standards of our elections irrespective of reforms introduced by INEC and progress made in reforming our election legal framework.
“The November 11 elections were another missed opportunity to rebuild trust and confidence in the electoral process. The elections question the commitment of democratic institutions such as INEC, political parties and other state institutions to electoral integrity and credible elections.”
Itodo, however, commended INEC for its prompt response to the report of cases of pre-filled results sheets (EC8A) in Kogi and expressed hopes that it would fulfil its commitment to ensuring the culprits faced the full wrath of the law.