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Polls: Observer groups ask NASS to convene public hearing

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As TMG flays vote-buying, inducement of voters

By Joseph Erunke

ELECTION observer groups have asked the National Assembly to immediately convene a public hearing on the just concluded elections, saying the conducts and subsequent outcomes were questionable.

Senate

The accredited local and international observers, speaking at a post-election assessment forum, yesterday,  in Abuja, lamented how rampant vote-buying and inducement of voters were, demanding a 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, insisted that the elections cannot pass integrity test.

In their various reports presented on  the  occasion,  they insisted that  vote-buying  had become a cankerworm that was eating deep into the fabric of the nation’s democratic process, seeking immediate arrest of what the described as a “menace.”

Executive Director of WARDC, Mrs Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, regretted that politicians were inducing voters with material and monetary gains to have their ways

She said: “The 2019 general election fell short of expectations and to stop this development in our next elections, the National Assembly must immediately convene a public hearing on the 2019 elections.

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“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.

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

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

He said: “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 those 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.

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“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 stifling 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 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.”

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