Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, a coalition of 70 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on transparency in the forthcoming governorship election in Edo state.
The Situation Room Convener, Mr Clement Nwankwo, and Co-Convener, Barr. Esther Uzoma, in a press statement, Tuesday in Abuja, also tasked the electoral body to map out sanctions for stakeholders who flout INEC COVID-19 guidelines as.
The coalition, while raising concerns over isolated incidents of violence in Edo state ahead of the election, noted that: “Public statements by candidates and leaders of the two main political parties is heightening political tension in the state and stoking violence.
“Issue-based campaigns have been relegated to the background and citizens are not being offered any real electoral choices.
“Recent actions by political actors indicate threats to the peaceful conduct of elections including squabbles over membership and leadership of the State House of Assembly.”
“In addition to violence laden campaigns the Situation Room is worried that these campaigns are being conducted in total disregard of COVID-19 pandemic protection protocols of campaign and voting.
“The statement further stated that, “Situation Room welcomes INEC’s trial of a portal where voters and the public at large can see their polling unit level results online within hours of voting closing.
“We have seen the poll at the weekend for the Nassarawa State Assembly where voters and observes were able to view polling results from online the same evening that the elections held.
“This is a significant step forward for transparency in Nigeria elections that should be reinforced and applied rigorously in upcoming polls in Edo and Ondo states.
“This proves that it is possible for every voter to have better access to the record of what has happened in their polling unit. Situation Room expects such transparency systems to come under pressure in more competitive elections.
“While we see this measure as vitally important, it does not substitute for necessary Electoral Act reforms and improvement in political party conduct that are necessary for stabilizing elections in Nigeria.
“The recent nullification of the Bayelsa state governorship elections by the election tribunal also reinforces the need for urgent action on electoral reform, particularly on the role of the judiciary in dispensing electoral justice and the need to quickly conclude election matters.”