Soldiers Barred Us From Monitoring Rivers Elections – EU Observers

INEC-chair-observes

The European Union Observation Mission to Nigeria has accused soldiers of the Nigerian Army of barring them from monitoring elections in Rivers State.

The observers said this in their preliminary report in Abuja on Monday.

The Chief Observer, Maria Arena, who is a member of the EU Parliament, faulted the elections.

She said, “Observers, including EU observers, were denied access to collation centres in Rivers, apparently by military personnel. This lack of access for observers compromises transparency and trust in the process.

“In Rivers, INEC suspended until further notice the elections due to violence in polling units and collation centres, staff being taken hostage and election materials, including results sheets, seized or destroyed by unauthorised persons.

“There is no doubt that the electoral process there was severely compromised.”

She said the EU deployed 73 observers following voting, counting and the collation of results in 22 states, monitoring 223 polling units in 81 collation centres.

However she lamented the violence, underage voting and vote-buying that marred the governorship and House of Assembly elections in some states.

“Although election operations improved, the elections were also marked by an overall low turnout and violence, including against election officials and voters.

“However, at eight polling units observed, we saw indications of vote-buying. Eight cases of obvious underage voting were also observed. Our observers saw that the counting of ballots transparent overall.

“Positively, in almost all cases, party agents received copies of the result forms, although they were often not displayed. The environment for these elections has been difficult, with cases of violence and intimidation, including attacks on election administration officials,” Arena said.

She called for electoral reforms in the country.

The Deputy Chief Observer, Hannah Roberts also criticised INEC for not providing specific information on the cancellation of votes in the February 23 elections.

“While this number did not affect the outcome given the margin of win, this was not a good process. INEC did not provide sufficient information on these cancellations, the specific reasons for them, and the precise local government areas affected. This undermines public confidence in the process,” she said.

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