Nigeria: 2019 Election - Sing Foundation Seeks Probe of Security Agencies' Conduct

26 June 2019

The SING Foundation has endorsed the observations of the international observers, including the European Union and the National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute joint Election Observation Missions and urge the Presidency to institute a public probe into the conduct of security agencies during the last elections, especially in the Niger Delta.

This came as it called on the National Assembly to 'strengthen the electoral laws to plug the loopholes in the existing electoral laws that have created the challenges of the 2019 general elections. The judiciary must discharge the enormous responsibility that this process has thrust upon it fearlessly and with fairness and justice as their guiding principles.'

The SING Foundation in a statement on Tuesday said it received and carefully reviewed the position of the European Union and the National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute joint Election Observation Missions and finds it pertinent to call attention of all stakeholders to the salient points raised therein.

The grpup said it 'is a matter of public knowledge that the SING Foundation participated in the elections as observers, in partnership with the Center for Policy and Leadership Development (CPALD), deploying observers across the states of the Niger Delta region. We wish to place on record that both reports validated our own report which has been released since March this year and is available for downloads on our website.

'The reports highlighted many of the challenges we noted during the election, and as a nonpartisan actor in the electoral process, we call on all stakeholders in the process to push for necessary reforms for more transparent and credible elections in the future that would be less susceptible to being questioned or manipulated.

'The need for democratic party primaries cannot be overemphasized and is a major determining factor of the quality of the general elections.

'The international observers called for more transparent primary elections, that all can verify as the cloud of uncertainty and opaque rules that govern primaries has been largely responsible for the dominance of money in the general elections.

'The Report of the international observers further validated our earlier position on the role of security agencies, not being neutral in total contrast with the rules of engagement. It will be recalled that before the elections we had led a protest and submitted petitions to the United States and European Union embassies in Abuja, as well as to the Presidency and Police Force Headquarters, calling on the government to call the security agencies to order following credible reports we had received that they were meddling in partisan affairs.

'It is indeed unacceptable that months after it was widely reported that the military involvement in the elections was less than neutral, as men and officers went beyond their legal jurisdictions to prevent observers from gaining access to collation centers in states such as Rivers, the military authorities are yet to come out and tell Nigerians who actually authorized these operations.

'The damaging effects of money politics was on full display as noted by these observers, who noted that the parties shut out many qualified aspirants with their high cost of nomination forms and the delegates system of party primaries, which led to candidates not running issues based campaigns during the 2019 elections season. This also spilled over into the general elections where incidences of vote buying by political parties was rife and carried out openly with impunity.

'The process of results' transmission, according to the international observers was worryingly opaque, even though the current system makes for open announcement of results at the polling unit. It was our own observation that the transmission and collation process of results was subject to many violent attempts at disruption because the EMB had created the gap created by manual transmission.

'Going forward we endorse the observations of the international observers and urge the Presidency to institute a public probe into the conduct of security agencies during the last elections, especially in the Niger Delta.

'The National Assembly must, as its new leadership has promised, strengthen the electoral laws to plug the loopholes in the existing electoral laws that have created the challenges we saw before, during and after the last general elections. The judiciary must discharge the enormous responsibility that this process has thrust upon it fearlessly and with fairness and justice as their guiding principles.'

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