2019: EU observers warn INEC, security agencies, politicians

•Insist on transparent process

The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to the Nigerian election,  said on Tuesday in Abuja that stakeholders involved in the conduct of the elections must abide by the rules guiding the elections.

Chief Observer of the EU EOM in Nigeria, Maria Arena, who addressed newsmen at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, also warned against any attempt to heat up the polity by the political stakeholders.

She said that the Mission would monitor the processes and report on the adherence to the rules guiding the elections.

While warning against politically volatile statements, the Chief Observer said: “As politicians, you must really be cautious of what you say, I think this is very important. I hope that state and political parties all play their part in promoting a fair and peaceful process before, during and after election day. This means working with integrity for the sake of the nation and promoting a calm response to any problems or frustrations.”

She insisted that transparency and adherence to the rules of the game would be uppermost in the agenda of the OBSERVERS, adding the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) and the security agencies must abide by the rules.

She stated: ” Transparency and accountability of all institutions involved in the elections are absolutely essential for public trust and confidence in the process. Thus we hope that INEC and security forces will provide clear real-time information on what they are doing and action they have taken. INEC and security forces need to be seen to work neutrality I’m all their actions from the leadership down.

“I hope that state bodies and political parties all play their part in promoting a fair and peaceful process before, during and after election day. This means working with integrity for the sake of the nation, and promoting a calm response to any problems or frustrations.”

According to her, the  2019 general election, is the sixth election monitoring mission of the EU to Nigeria adding that it will consist 11 election experts and 40 long term observers, whom she said would be deployed in pairs to various parts of the country.

She said that a delegation of seven members of the European Parliament will also join the mission as well as diplomatic staff from EU member state embassy in Nigeria.

She added: “I can’t say how large the mission will eventually be at this stage, but we are expecting it to be up or more than 70 observers. We will be observing both election days and post-election period.”

The EU Chief Observer stated that the 2019 election provides an opportunity for Nigeria to build on what was achieved in 2015  and further strengthen her and to democracy.

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Giving further details of the assignment of the EU Mission, she said that 11 election experts in Abuja, and 40 experienced long-term observers, already deployed around the states would cover the elections.

She said that the 2019 mission was bigger than the 2015 team, adding that the team would be deployed in all six geopolitical zones, working in 20 different locations.

She added that the team have started meeting with election officials, candidates, parties, security agencies, the media, and religious leaders.

She added: “They will also meet with representatives of civil society organisations involved in the electoral process, which have an indispensable role in increasing the transparency and credibility of the process, and in advocating for electoral improvements.  Our long-term observers will report their observations back to the team in Abuja, and these will contribute to the mission’s informed and impartial assessment of the electoral process.

“In addition, over the two election days, a delegation of seven Members of the European Parliament will also join the mission, as well as diplomatic staff from EU member state embassies in Nigeria, plus Canada, Norway and Switzerland. I can’t say how large the mission will eventually be at this stage, but we are expecting it to be made up of more than 70 observers. We will be observing both election days and the post-election period.”

The Chief Observer said that the EU Mission would in the run-up to election day, analyse the campaign environment, the election preparations, the legal framework, the role of civil society and the media. “On election day, they will observe the opening of the polling units, the voting process, the counting of votes, the tabulation of results, and any election complaints and appeals that arise before, during or after the elections. The EU mission will assess the conduct of the media by monitoring key TV and radio stations as well as newspapers and social media.

Shortly after both election days, we’ll issue a preliminary statement giving our initial assessment of the electoral process up until that point. We call it preliminary because the electoral process is far from over, and therefore it will not be possible to give a final, definitive assessment of the whole process.

“So, a more comprehensive final report will be issued at a later stage, after the completion of the electoral process. This will also include recommendations to consider for future electoral processes in Nigeria.”

She said that their team would be impartial in its duties adding: “We are here in the spirit of cooperation with Nigeria. We stand ready to deliver an impartial, objective assessment of the electoral process…”

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