From AIDOGHIE PAULINUS, Abuja
The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) for the 2015 Nigerian Election, has insisted that no centralised systemic fraud was observed in the conduct of the March 28, and April 11 2015 elections.
The EU said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), made commendable attempts to strengthen electoral arrangements, noting that systemic weakness left the process vulnerable to abuse by political contenders.
Presenting its final report on the 2015 elections in Abuja, Member of European Parliament and the Chief Observer of the EU EOM for the 2015 General Elections, Mr Santiago Ayxela Fisas, said in spite of the commendable efforts, procedural shortcomings abound.
“Procedural shortcomings were evident, in particular, during collation and from analysis of polling unit results. However, no centralised systemic fraud was observed,” the EU EOM said in its Executive Summary of the report.
“On 28 March election day, voters displayed commendable commitment. Overall in sites visited, polling passed peacefully with appropriate performance by security forces, although over 19 killings were reported.
“Generally, the process may be characterised as disordered and prolonged. Although polling procedures were insufficiently followed, EU EOM observers saw no evidence of systematic manipulations.
“On 11 April election day, there were increased security incidents, with at least 30 people killed, predominantly from inter-party clashes and attacks on election sites, with problems being most pronounced in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states. Again, EU EOM observers saw no evidence of centralised systematic fraud,” the EU insisted.
The report further said INEC gained credibility since the appointment of its former chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, in 2010.
The EU however said it was not clear to what extent INEC had been reformed, even as it said that during the 2015 elections, INEC appeared to have performed impartially in challenging circumstances.
“However, given the insufficient requirements for transparency and full public accountability, as well as a lack of full institutional independence, the election administration remains vulnerable to partisan operations and/or weak delivery that risks exploitation by parties,” It added.
The report took a swipe at the government-owned National Television Authority (NTA) and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), saying that the two leading media networks with the widest coverage provided extensive exposure to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its officials.
In its recommendations, the EU EOM called for the establishment of a more inclusive parliamentary mechanism for cross-party involvement in the selection and approval of the INEC chairperson and national commissioners.
It also said INEC’s independence should be further developed through direct power to appoint and remove Resident Electoral Commissioners.
The EU also said after a thorough review of the 2010/2014 registration processes, there should be an elaborate plan for developing and maintaining the voter register to include improving biometric functionality, removal of the deceased, and extended enrolment of new registrants.
Such processes, the EU EOM added, should be subjected to stronger INEC supervisory checks with greater scrutiny from agents, observers and the media. (The Sun)