Situation Room Disappointed With Rivers Re-run Election
SAN FRANCISCO, March 20, (THEWILL) – The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room says it is not pleased by the Rivers State Re-Run elections conducted on Saturday March 19th saying the polls have been highly disappointing at most levels.
This was disclosed in a statement issued by the group, a platform of more than 70 Nigerian civil society organisations working on good governance issues, including: Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, PLAC, CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development, Enough is Enough, WANGONET, JDPC, Election Monitor, YIAGA, CISLAC, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Stakeholders Democracy Network, Proactive Gender Initiative and several other CSOs.
According to the group, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should make its investigation comprehensive and release in full its findings while political parties should take responsibility for their members, conduct investigations, and discipline those who have behaved outside the democratic standards to which they have committed.
“Overall the polls have been highly disappointing at most levels – there was significant violence and loss of life, allegations of serious malpractice, and extensive delays. So far this has resulted in the suspension or cancellation of 8 of 23 local governments,” the statement read.
“The poll is particularly disappointing because it involves marshalling the combined resources of INEC and the security services nationally for a stand alone election. Instead of a model exercise the Rivers re-run featured almost all the incidents which should have been eliminated.
“We note that in several LGAs there were allegations of 'fake' or incomplete results sheets – notably in Bonny, Gokana, Andoni and Khana. Issues of results sheets should have been cleared well before election day and we call for a balanced investigation into how this controversy came about.
“There were credible reports of violence in a number of LGAs and reports of between 8 and 13 deaths (some officially acknowledged) with the possibility that the tally may be higher. All of the incidents of violence deserve impartial investigation and prosecution of those responsible.
“Despite clear directives from the police, senior members of both the major political parties were observed at the headquarters of local governments in disputed areas (observed in Khana and Gokana). While concerns over problems are understandable, we reiterate that political parties have fueled concerns over interference in the poll.
“There were serious allegations made about partisan conduct of the military around the poll in some locations. These deserve independent investigation and suitable action if wrongdoing is found.
“We call on INEC to make its investigation of other LGAs comprehensive and to release in full its findings once these have reached a conclusion.
“In light of the conduct before the election and serious allegations around the poll we also call on the political parties to take responsibility for their members, conduct investigations, and discipline those who have behaved outside the democratic standards to which they have committed.
“Once again we condemn the threats and intimidation that was meted out to electoral officials both before and during the poll.
“We call on INEC to fully investigate the difficulties encountered with completing the Rivers Rerun elections and to take the conclusions into full account when making preparations for concluding remaining polls in the state,” it concluded.
Story by David Oputah