By Chioma Onuegbu
Uyo—Foreign and local observers, who monitored the 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections last Saturday, have disclosed that no fewer than 25 Nigerians lost their lives during the elections.
The observers, who made this known at a joint press conference in Uyo yesterday, expressed disappointment that the number was more than the 12 deaths recorded during the 2015 elections in the country.
The briefing was addressed by the Director General, Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness, Publicity Secretary, Pan African Women Project, Republic of South Africa, Mrs Mphoentle Keitseng and Prince Stafford Bisong of International Leadership Initiative.
The observers who described the election as a rape on democracy by desperate power mongers, unanimously agreed that the election was dramatic and marred in some areas in the state due to late arrival of election materials, ballot snatching, absence of materials at some polling units
They said: “This we consider as saddening and alarming in a contest supposedly civil and democratic. It seems to us that Nigeria is transiting backwards to the dark ages of a near anarchy situation.
“The role of the military in election and consequent rule of engagement in elections were clearly and consistently violated.
“We observed the military in states such as Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Imo, Cross River etc, ordered the electorate, observer, and some party agents out of collation centres for the sole aim of falsification of results in favour of a preferred candidate.
“In some instances in Akwa Ibom State, Rivers, Imo and Cross River states, the law enforcement agents were observed firing sporadically into the air and snatching ballot boxes themselves.
“Again, in the full glare of the military and the IGP squad of the Nigerian Police, hoodlums loyal to a senatorial candidate, who was not returned in the poll assaulted foreign and domestic observers in Ukana, Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, seizing and destroying their tablets, phones and other personal effects.
“The Smart Card Reader was not used in several polling units across the country. This was as a result of threat to life by thugs and hoodlums engaged by some desperate politicians.
“Sadly, most of the results which emanated from a process that was in clear violation of the provision of the Electoral Act, 2010 as Amended were collated, declared and a winner emerged.
“For the first time in the history of election in this state (Akwa Ibom) and Nigeria, INEC officers were careful, transparent and allowed a free and fair process in this election.”