Human Rights

CSOs set standard for INEC, stakeholders for credible general election

The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has outlined expectations that must be met in the conduct of the forthcoming election for it to pass the test of being free, fair and credible.

Mr Clement Nwankwo, Convener Situation Room, at the unveiling of its Hub for the general election, said the threshold document contains the criteria to be followed for the election to be regarded as credible.

Nwankwo said the document contains a set of conditions that INEC, security agencies, political parties and state institutions must fulfill to give credibility to electoral process.

Situation Room demands that INEC must ensure that there is absence of multiple registrations, removal of under-aged and deceased voters in collaboration with the National Population Commission.

INEC should also ensure alignment between election data and demographic data; keep timely adherence to guidelines for display of Voters’ Register and give voters sufficient time to verify their details.

There is need for audit of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) collection process and rate, uncollected cards, and protocol for storage and protection.

INEC must also publicise the reforms it has made regarding malfunctioning of Smart Card Reader (SCR), during the accreditation and voting procedure.

It should also make a commitment to a special audit in the event of a five per cent card reader incidence failure,” he said.

Nwankwo said the group also wanted INEC to put in place a transparent result collation process and commit to publishing the collation process not less than 15 days after the election.

He added that INEC should also ensure unfettered access by accredited observers and all party agents to collation centres, as well as non-participation of security agents in collation process at any level.

He said the group also called for efficient and accountable administration of the election asking that ballot paper design should exclude parties without candidates.

He said INEC should publicise and share plans for voting and security arrangements for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) around the country; and promote inclusiveness and enfranchisement for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).

Nwankwo called on political parties to comply with election laws and regulations, shun hate speech and violence during campaigns and avoid perpetrating fraud, malpractice among others on Election Days.

He also urged political parties to train and deploy polling agents to represent them and commit to every stage of the election as well as commit to respecting the outcome of the general election.

He said the outlined minimum expectations for Security Agencies, namely- Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Army is to ensure that their deployment of personnel should be under the operational directive of INEC.

He urged security agencies to make public declaration of neutrality before, during and after the election.

Security agencies must also not instigate violence or intimidate voters, candidates or polling agents.

Importantly, Situation Room call on agencies to comply with section 29(3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which gives INEC the responsibility of requesting for the deployment of security personnel necessary for the election, he said.

Nwankwo called on governments at state and federal levels, to ensure that all parties had access to public facilities during campaigns, without restrictions.

He said governments should also ensure that state institutions were not used to intimidate or harass candidates.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria