By Danladi Al-Hassan
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reacted to a report by The Situation Room, a coalition of civil society election monitoring groups in Nigeria, which portrays the 2019 general elections in the country as being below the standard set by the electoral commission in its conduct of 2015 elections.
The report released Tuesday in Abuja by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room said INEC appeared ill-prepared for the elections which were marred by violence, voter intimidation, vote-stealing, and voter apathy.
The report also examined the role of the Nigerian government, security agencies, and political parties in undermining the country’s electoral process.
Rotimi Oyekanmi, a spokesperson to Professor Yakubu Mahmood, INEC Chairman, said in a statement said the commission would study the report, alongside those released by other observers.
“In line with its commitment to improving the electoral system, the Commission has just completed its internal review process and will harvest all the recommendations from this and other observer reports with a view to deepening democracy in Nigeria,” the statement said.
“The commission is conscious of its responsibilities and expectations of all Nigerians and is determined to ensure that free, fair and credible elections are conducted at all times.”
The report by the civil society groups recommended that INEC should commence an immediate “push” for reforms of Nigeria’s electoral process.
“The Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill passed by the National Assembly and declined by the President, should be re-introduced, passed by the National Assembly and transmitted to the President for Assent.
“In addition, amendments to the Electoral Act should include altering section 68, that gives unquestioning powers to the Returning Officer to declare results for an election even where such Returning Officer may have done so dubiously or as a result of coercion, ” the report said.
The Situation Room is made up of 72 civil society groups across Nigeria. It serves as “a coordinating platform for civil society engagement on governance issues”.
Twenty-four thousand observers were deployed by the groups to monitor the elections in Nigeria’s 36 states and Abuja.