Following the myriad of complaints trailing the February 25th Presidential elections, the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to tighten all loose ends with regards to its logistics.
National Coordinator of WACSOF Nigeria, Dr. Sanwo Olatunji-David made the call at a press conference on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 in Abuja.
Dr. David said, report gotten from his members in many of the polling units disclosed that late arrival of INEC staff and election materials made the process drag late into the night and brought about frustration on the part of the voters and thus a fertile ground for electoral malpractices.
He added that, shortages of election consumables such as ink pad delayed voting in some poling units visited.
Also, unfamiliarity of the BVAS to polling unit’s agents created hitches and Voter frustration.
In addition, they observed that the election was free, fair, and credible up to the point of counting. The situation however changed after counting and uploading the result was made practically impossible for Presidential results. This, he said was at variance to the provisions of INEC regulations for the election and the electoral act.
The WACSOF chair stated that, “now that INEC did not consider it expedient to address complaints relating to election results before announcing the winner, WACSOF commends the resolve of the aggrieved parties to approach the courts of competent jurisdiction rather than issuing inflammatory public statements”.
To remedy the aforementioned challenges, he tasked INEC to address any foreseeable technical glitch before the Governorship and State Assembly elections. In addition, it should also finetune and expand data capacity and all other necessary technical requirements relating to Election results upload to the INEC portal as stipulated in the Election guidelines.
Speaking further, Dr. David praised the aggrieved parties for channeling their grievances to the right source and expressed confidence in the judiciary to deliver sound judgement:
“As a Thematic Group, our position is that the aggrieved Parties did the right thing by approaching the Presidential election Tribunal to address their grievances rather that heating up the system.
“We believe that approaching the court will add value by enriching and deepening our democratic values”, Dr. David said.
He also urged INEC to fix their logistics problem, ensure election starts by 8:30am, and the officers on ground should know how to use BVAS, and also upload election results at the Polling Unit as “anything short of that implies direct sabotage”.
WACSOF is a regional Coalition of civil society organizations from 15 West Africa Countries formed by ECOWAS with the objective to strengthen civil society’s participation in governance in West African States and to promote human rights, democracy, and development in the sub- region.