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Election observers demand complete audit of 2019 general elections

…vow to force Varsity Dons who served as INEC staff to speak up

…vote-buying, inducement of voters; political corruption – TMG

As 2019 elections gradually winding up, foreign and local observers during the exercise on Thursday lamented how rampant vote-buying and inducement of voters was, demanding complete audit of the general exercise.

The observers, under the aegis of Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) and Election Observation Platforms unanimously presented in a report that vote-buying will continue to hurt Nigeria’s democracy if not curbed.

Speaking at a post 2019 election briefing in Abuja, the Executive Director of WARDC, Mrs Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi said voters were being disempowered to give their votes in exchange of money and other material needs.

“A system that can’t deliver its own people without political corruption and inducement is failed and cannot help its people out of poverty or bad governance.

“It can be said that rampant spread of vote-buying is acting as a stimulus for the ruin and death of democracy in the country and also acting as a hindrance to the possibilities of good governance in the country,” she lamented.

Akiyode-Afolabi also said that election observer groups have concluded all arrangements to make sure all professors who served as Returning Officers for Independent National Electoral Commission during the exercise are forced to speak up through public hearing.

WARDC boss also threatened that they would shame some individuals with their recommendations about what transpired across 36 States during the polls.

“Very soon, we are going to bring out our recommendations for the institutions that are involved. We are going to mention names, we are going to shame who are supposed to be shamed, we are going to come out with strong recommendations, asking for the institutions to take steps. If this goes with the kind of impunity that often surround our elections, we will never get out of this calamity,” she said.

She added, “We are demanding a general audit and the audit is important because it will help us to understand what went wrong and what role each stakeholder played. There are roles voters played that we need to find strategies to address. There were roles political parties played in stiffling the system.

“The audit will help us to have a holistic and comprehensive understanding of what went wrong. I must tell you, from our assessment, the general electioneering process for 2019 is a big retrogression from where we are coming from. It took us back to 2007 where we had no elections. The point I am raising is that, we need an audit to understand how we got here.

“Why we are raising concerns is that, we also noticed that it got to a time, where INEC was so helpless. We had a situation where electoral officers were being shot. We had a situation where electoral officers were hijacked and held hostage.

“I don’t think in our electoral history we have gotten to that level, where electoral officers have to declare results without interference, by either political thugs or security officers or any other people who feel that they can influence the outcome of the elections.

“We need to understand that dimension. That is why the audit is important. I want to ask a question, who is speaking? If we had report of this type, how come? Who is talking? The Professors who were the Returning Officers are not coming up to talk about it! We need a public hearing.

“People must be able to talk about what happened during this elections. It has not brought us back to 2007 but…for us to be able to avoid such in further elections as it happened in the past, where we had no laws, no institutions. We are supposed to have gotten over that.”

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