European Union Observers Slam INEC Over The Conduct Of 2023 Elections

By Damilare Adeleye

The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) has berated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saying that the Commission failed to meet expectations of Nigerians with the conduct of Saturday’s Governorship and State Assembly elections.

The Chief Observer of the mission, Barry Andrews, in a statement on Monday, said the outcome of the elections in many states indicated that the electoral body failed in its responsibilities.

He said the voter apathy witnessed on Saturday is a testament to the fact INEC disappointed Nigerians who had a great appetite for democracy and change as a result of the conduct of the February 25 presidential poll.

Andrews said the governorship and state assembly elections were also disrupted by multiple incidents of thuggery and intimidation of voters and other electoral offenses, adding that organised violence in parts of the country led to a fearful environment.

He said: “Throughout the mission, we saw that Nigerians have a great appetite for democracy and are keen to engage in various civic activities.

“However, in many parts of the country, their expectations were not met. Many were disappointed and we witnessed voter apathy that is in part a clear consequence of failures by political elites and, unfortunately, also by INEC.

“Positively, INEC introduced some corrective measures ahead of Saturday’s polls, allowing a timely delivery of sensitive materials and improved use of election technologies, yet the institution continued to lack transparency

“EU EOM observers noted that voting on 18 March mostly started on time, with INEC ad-hoc officials present and ready to serve the voter. However, polling on election day was disrupted by multiple incidents of thuggery and intimidation of voters, polling officials, observers, and journalists.

“Lagos, Kano, and other states in the southern and central part were most affected. Unfortunately, there were many casualties and fatalities. Vote-buying, also directly observed by EU EOM observers, further detracted from appropriate conduct of the elections.”

Andrews said the mission observed the underrepresentation of women in the process demonstrated Nigeria’s contrary practice to its constitutional provision and international commitment to inclusion.

He added: “The clear underrepresentation of women as candidates demonstrated a stark lack of internal party policies to support constitutionally prescribed inclusion, also contrary to Nigeria’s international commitments to eradicate discrimination against women.

“The mission also commended the civil society, media, and fact-checkers for promoting democratic standards by raising awareness and providing electoral information of public interest to voters.”