The Integrity Friends for Truth and Peace Initiative (TIFPI)- an accredited independent election observer group- has commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for abolishing the controversial Incident Forms in the 2019 general elections.
The group gave this commendation in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Livingstone Wechie, stressing that the move will boost the confidence of Nigerians in the commission to conduct transparent elections in the country.
The group recalled that the use of Incident Forms had in the past caused some measure of irregularity as most people were either disenfranchised or the credibility of the elections were questioned by some stakeholders.
The group also welcomed the measures now being put in place by the Commission to make up for any forms of data and accreditation challenges by prospective voters during the upcoming elections even as it advised the commission to establish to public knowledge a mechanism to address issues of the large population of prospective voters with Temporary Voters Card (TVC) as against Permanent Voters Card (PVC).
It said the use of the TVCs may have been the reason some are not keen to collect their PVCs.
“This will help in avoiding the possible disenfranchisement of this category of persons. Hence community based organizations across the country should be engaged fully to aide domestic reach in helping to address this issue knowing that most of these persons have limited education and only traditional platforms can help facilitate their access to INEC information on this matter,” the statement said.
The group also lauded INEC for the far reaching efforts towards ensuring a successful 2019 election in their preparations despite the non-signing of the controversial electoral Act amendment Bill into Law by the President.
“It is doubtless that the Commission under Prof. Mahmood Yukubu has gone through narrow paths in recent times in a bid to improve on election management; hence in spite of the difficult terrain particularly the unhealthy relationship between the National Assembly and the Executives as it touches INEC and other agencies, INEC was able to show great capacity and lived head above waters in the face of the almost impossible situation it found itself preparatory to the 2019 general election”.
On the 2019 INEC guidelines, the group also urged Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) to reconsider its position and view of the Commission accordingly, adding that the conduct of IPAC to ostensibly compel INEC to change its guideline is an inappropriate act aimed at unduly interfering with the independence of INEC and its powers as provided for by the constitution and the Electoral Act establishing the Commission accordingly.
“It is important to note that although IPAC as stakeholders have a right to ask questions and make recommendations in the circumstance it cannot dictate for INEC the guidelines that should be used for the election possibly for political interest purposes.
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“This caution is necessary in keeping with Section 158 of the 1999 Constitution as amended which provides that INEC among others shall not be subject to the direction or control of any authority or person as per independence,” the statement said. \