The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, a coalition of CSOs, has said it would hold the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) accountable to its promises and assurances on preparedness for the governorship election in Edo state.
The CSOs in a preliminary statement on the election signed by the Alternate Chair, Barr Esther Uzoma, Friday, said the group, which would be on ground in Edo state to receive reports from its partners and networks distributed across the 18 local government areas of the state, has deployed 300 observers across the state.
“The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) has deployed 300 Observers for the Edo State Governorship election scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2020.
“The Situation Room will be on ground in Edo State to receive reports from its partners and networks distributed across the 18 local government areas of the state.
“Situation Room has received assurances from INEC and the Nigeria Police Force that they are fully prepared for the elections, with INEC assuring that logistics and deployment are fully under its control and the Police assuring that it will keep the security situation under check.
“Situation Room expects an improved administration and management of the 2020 Edo state governorship election and will be holding INEC accountable to its promise and assurances of preparedness,” she said.
According to the alternate chair, “Situation Room welcomes the continued use of the Smart Card Readers and the introduction of the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) Portal as an additional layer of accountability and transparency in this election.
“The commission has reiterated that this portal will not be utilised for e-collation or voter authentication but will only serve as a platform for the upload of polling units’ results using the Z-Pads.
“Situation Room calls on INEC to ensure that this portal is available for this proposed use and to stand by its commitment to opening the portal to public view and not accepting results where violence or electoral malpractices occur.
“Situation Room commends INEC’s addition of new security features on its sensitive materials as a means of reducing potential interference with ballot papers and result sheets.”
The group, however, stated that some level of hostility and unprofessional conduct of some policemen towards accredited media agents and observers were observed during the distribution of election materials at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) office in Benin on Wednesday, September 16, 2020.
“Situation Room calls on the leadership of the Nigeria Police Force to call their men to order and enjoin them to be neutral and professional in their conduct.
“Situation Room restates that by virtue of section 29(3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the Police are the lead agency in election security and all other security agencies should take their lead from them.
“We further call on the Police Force to document evidence of violence, infractions and their perpetrators and share this information with INEC, in order to speedily bring offenders to book,” the statement read in part.
The group also called on the parties to ensure their agents abide by INEC Covid-19 guidelines as they participate in the electoral process, even as they urged eligible voters to come out freely to exercise their civic responsibility despite the rhetoric of violence.