Election Shift: Probe Your Officials, Adhere Strictly To New Dates, Observer Groups Tell INEC

The Centre for Transparency Advocacy, an accredited observer group, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to investigate alleged acts of sabotage by some of its officials that might have led to the postponement of the general elections.

The Acting Executive Director of the organisation, Faith Nwadishi,  made the call while briefing newsmen in Abuja on Saturday.

She called on INEC’s  management to ensure that proper investigation was done while ensuring the prosecution of any official found wanting.

“We note the challenges INEC has to surmount such as the recent burning of INEC offices and materials in some parts of the country and reports of disappearance of sensitive materials and deployment of  adhoc staff.

“There is no way elections could be conducted like that.

“We are aware that people and observer groups have committed resources; Nigerians have made commitments, people had to cancel social events because we are all committed to having a democratic Nigeria where elections work.

“We want to ensure the right thing is done and to sound a note of warning to desperate politicians.

“We are Nigerians and we believe in the project Nigeria.

“Nigeria is not made for the 10 percent of the political class that think they have the right to distort the progress we are making in this country.

“Nigerians should see the hand writing on the wall and realise that the irresponsible act of the political class will not take us to where we want to get to.

“These challenges would have marred the credibility and outcome of the general elections,” she said.

She urged stakeholders to remain calm and not be deterred by this “necessary setback” toward getting the conduct of the election right.

The President of the Public Interest Lawyers League, Mr Abdul Mahmud, said that this period in Nigeria’s history was a sober moment.

“The postponement of the election raises a lot of questions on the political leadership of this country,” he said.

He, however, urged Nigerians not to despair and  come out on Feb. 23 to  vote for candidates of their choice.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)  reports that INEC  had shifted the Presidential and National Assembly elections to Feb. 23.

The Governorship and  House of Assembly as well as  FCT area council elections have also been shifted from March 2  to March 9.

Adhere strictly to new date, EU, ECOWAS election observers, others tell INEC

Meanwhile, the European Union Election Observation Mission, Economic Community of West African States Election Observation Mission and other election observers have asked the Independent National Electoral Commission to finalise preparations and adhere strictly to the new February 23, 2019 date for the general elections.

The Punch reports that the Observer missions noted that the suspension of the polls due to logistical and operational challenges had caused disappointment for many, admonishing the commission to provide regular updates and information to the public on its preparations in the coming days and weeks to enhance confidence and trust in the process.

This was contained in a statement jointly signed by the leader of the ECOWAS Election Observation Mission, former President of Liberia, Johnson Sirleaf, African Union Election Observation Mission leader, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn and Commonwealth Observer Group leader, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr. Jakaya Kikwete.

Others include the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa Election Observation Mission leader, former President of Zambia, Rupiah Banda; European Union Election Observation Mission Chief observer, and Belgian Member of the European Parliament, Maria Arena; National Democratic Institute/International Republican Institute Election Observation Mission co-Chairmen, former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae, and ex-President of Latvia, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga.

Others are the Director of African Political Affairs Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Amb. Boubakar Adamou and the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas.

The statement read, “We, the Heads of the international election observation missions and the United Nations present in Nigeria, have taken note of the decision of the INEC to postpone the 2019 general elections due to logistical and operational challenges.

“We urge INEC to use this time to finalise all preparations and ensure that the new election dates are strictly adhered to. We encourage INEC to provide regular updates and information to the public on its preparations in the coming days and weeks to enhance confidence and trust in the process.

“As we continue to closely observe preparations across the country, we stand in solidarity with the people of Nigeria in their desire for credible and peaceful elections.”

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