observers speak on the kogi west senatorial districts recall.

PRESS RELEASE

THE WEST SENATORIAL DISTRICT RECALL IN THE EYES OF OBSERVERS

BACKGROUND

On the 25th of April 2018, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), organized a stakeholders meeting and press briefing to kick start the process that is expected to lead to the Recall of the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, as dictated by the various sections of the Nigeria constitution.In attendance at the meeting were officials of National Headquarters of INEC, particularly the National Commissioner in charge of Kogi, Kwara and Nassaraw States. Others include various Security Agencies, Civil Society organizations, political parties, members of the Press, Faith Based organizations, etc

On Friday 27th April 2018, at 11 am, at the state INEC headquarters, various verification materials were distributed to INEC officials to be taken to the various Local government areas for the Verification Exercise. The material distribution was also witnessed by the media and accredited Civil Society organizations working on Elections.

VERIFICATION EXERCISE

On Saturday 28th April 2018, INEC officials and their Adhoc staffs commenced the Verification Exercise in 520 Polling Units across the 7 Local Government Areas of the District. The exercise commenced by 8 am as scheduled and ended by 2 pm same day. 

It was observed by few accredited civil Society organizations and many Media Practitioners.

The exercise was participatory and due process was followed by INEC. Smart Card Readers were used to verify those that have signed the Petition initially and made themselves available physically as dictated by INEC guidelines. However, the exercise recorded very low turnout and many of those that made themselves available that signed the Petition and found their names on the list, did not have same signatures on the petition.

We also observed the presence of adequate Security personnel at every Polling Unit, as not less than 3 Security personnel were sighted in each of the observed polling units. This included members of the Nigerian police, NSCDC, Immigration and Prison Services. 

Majority of the Smart Card Readers functioned well except in very few cases, and INEC needs to be commended for adhering to their rules and guidelines.

The voters conducted themselves peacefully in most cases except in isolated areas mentioned above.

In some places, political party agents were seen around the polling units with their tags, contrary to INEC pronouncements during the stakeholder meeting, that since this was a verification exercise and not an election, Political party agents were not allowed.

Furthermore, we also observed the Petitioners and the Petitioned also had their agents’ in many Polling units. It is however worrisome, that all agents identified did not have their names clearly written on their tags as it is always the practice with Observers, both local and International.

COLLATIONThe final collation exercise took place at the INEC Lokoja Local government office, and commenced at about 10 pm Saturday and ended with the final result announced at 1.47 am on Sunday 29th April 2018 as promised by INECIO.KL

The result was declared by PROFESSOR UKERTORI MOTI, a Professor of Political Science from the University of Abuja.

RECOMMENDATION

·         Civil Society should take these types of exercises serious and make themselves available. For an exercise that cut across 7 LGAs, not up to 50 Civil Society Observers participated.

·         INEC should make sure all Party Agents in their activities, should have their names on their tags and if possible with pictures.

·         Being the first Verification exercise in the State, there were discrepancies in signatures and thumbprints, and INEC should look into these with a view to addressing these issues

·         Adequate enlightenment activities should be conducted for voters in the affected areas as there were limited understanding of the process by the Voters on the exercise

·         Donors and International Agencies should take interest in these type of exercises as no single International Observer was sighted in the exercise

·         INEC and Security Agencies should take note of money exchange during subsequent INEC organized events

·         Mapping of electoral violence flashpoints should be conducted by  INEC, Security Agencies and Civil Society before INEC organized activities and measures taken to prevent what happened in Mopa/Muro LGA

CONCLUSION

The Recall process itself and the stage it got to before it failed also brought some lessons for democracy, rule of law and good governance. It brought enlightenment to the citizens that they have the power to Recall their Legislators.

The exercise was a worthwhile participation and there was need for Civil Society to take interest at both national and international issues.                                                

IDRIS MILIKI.     EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION (CHRCR) LOKOJA

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