Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has outlined the minimum standards required from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies, political parties and state institutions must fulfil to give credibility to the forthcoming General Elections.
In a threshold document released at the unveiling of the Situation Room Hub for the elections in Abuja on Tuesday, Situation Room outlined minimum expectations that the conduct of the 2019 elections must meet to pass the test of free, fair and credible elections.
The election is billed for February 16 and March 2, 2019.
Speaking at the unveiling of the Situation Room Hub for the elections, Convener of the coalition, Clement Nwankwo, demanded that the electoral body must ensure that there is absence of multiple registrations, removal of under-aged and deceased voters in collaboration with the National Population Commission, ensure alignment between election data and demographic data; keep timely adherence to guidelines for display of Voter Register, give voters sufficient time to verify their details.
Nwankwo listed other minimum requirements from INEC to include: audit of Permanent Voter Card (PVC) collection process and rates, uncollected PVCs, and protocol for storage and protection.
He called on the electoral body to publicise to all stakeholders, the reforms it has made regarding any malfunctioning of the Smart Card Reader (SCR), during the Accreditation and Voting procedure and make a commitment to a special audit in the event of a 5% card reader incidence failure.
Nwankwo also called on INEC to put a transparent results collation process in place, commit to publishing the collation process no less than 15 days after the election, and ensure unfettered access by accredited observers and all party agents to collation centres as well as non-participation of security agents in collation process at any level.
Situation Room also called for efficient and accountable Election Administration of the elections asking that ballot paper designs exclude parties without any candidates; publicise and share plans for voting and security arrangements for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) around the country; and promote inclusiveness and enfranchisement for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
The group, which consists of over 70 civil society organisations in Nigeria, charged political parties to comply with election laws and regulations, shun hate speech and violence during campaigns and avoid perpetrating fraud, malpractice etc. on Election Day.
It also called on political parties to train and deploy polling agents to represent their parties and commit to every stage of the elections as well as commit to respecting the outcome of the General Elections.
According to him, security agencies must ensure that all security deployment are under the operational directive of INEC and make a public declaration of neutrality before, during and after the elections, and that no restrictions are placed on the campaigns of any candidates in any part of the country.
“Security agencies must also not instigate violence or intimidate voters, candidates or polling agents.
“Importantly, Situation Room calls on agencies to comply with section 29(3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which gives INEC the responsibility of requesting the deployment of security personnel necessary for the elections,” he said.
He called on governments at state and federal levels to ensure that all parties have access to public facilities during the campaigns, that there are no restrictions of their movement and ensure that State institutions are not used to intimidate or harass candidates and avoid the resort to clamping down on the opposition candidates or parties based on spurious charges.
The event was attended by civil society leaders, diplomats, election stakeholders among others.