Election observers under the platform of Independent Foreign Observers have commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Nigerians for transparency and credibility of Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections.
They gave this commendation at a press conference this afternoon in Abuja. The team leader, Dr. Stuart Young, an academic and diplomat spoke on behalf of other members of the team at its presentation of preliminary report.
The observers in the text entitled, “A Preliminary report on the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly Elections in Nigeria” described the conduct of the elections as fair and an indication of non-interference by the government or any of its agents.
The text reads, “In the build-up to the 2019 General Elections in Nigeria, the Independent Foreign Observers mission, a team from the United States of America, United Kingdom, and the European Union (EU), visited Nigeria with a view to observing the elections, in line with best global practices. Consequently, more than 200 local observers were recruited and trained to monitor the polls, with a view to ascertaining if the elections were free, fair and credible.
From the reports filed in by our observers deployed all around the country, it was recorded that the turnout of voters across the country was impressive, as supporters of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) were active in casting their ballots for their respective candidates.
The conduct of the electoral officials appeared to be consistently fair and an indication of non-interference by the government or any of its agents. There were, however, some polling units that experienced late arrival of voting materials.
In both Abuja and Nassarawa state, observers witnessed polls opening late, and voting beginning after the scheduled start. In Abuja, we saw voting begin as late as 9:30 am, and in a Mararaba polling station in Nassarawa voting did not begin until 1 pm.
Observers in Asokoro 1, Abuja witnessed a situation where there was confusion over the exact location of a polling station, because of the previous demolition of a Total service station that had been used to identify the location for voters. INEC officials set up at the nearest Total service station where they performed their duties for citizens who had lined up there. Upon discovering there was a collection of voters in a different location, where the former service station was located, INEC officials moved their voting materials to this location. Some citizens were worried that the votes that officials brought to the new station indicated ballot box stuffing, but were eventually mollified when officials explained the confusion over the location.
There were also reports of unruly behaviour at some polling units that required the immediate deployment of security to restore order. An example was in Kaduna state where voters attempted to provoke security personnel of which a senior military officer quickly resolved the situation. There were additional reports of scattered violence in Lagos, Obu state, River state and Bayelsa state.
Incidences of votes buying were dealt with by surveillance mounted by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and other security agencies that consisted of the Army, police, and the civil defence.
The various security agencies were professional in handling incidences of ballot box snatching and other forms of electoral malpractices. Worthy of mention is the professionalism displayed by the Nigerian Army.