… INEC complied with Electoral Act, guidelines
… Enjoins winners, losers to be civil in approach
A coalition of over 100 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have passed its verdict on the just concluded 18th March, 2023 elections describing it as fair, transparent and credible.
It focus was with particular reference to Cross River state in which the elections were conducted to elect Governors and states Houses of Assembly members just as it happened in several states across the federation.
Dr. Gabriel Nwambu who heads the coalition that operates under the aegis of Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness (CCLCA) while addressing journalists in Calabar, the Cross River state capital said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), complied with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and the extant laws during the election.
The coalition which comprises of INEC Accredited Observer Groups (AOGs) unanimously concluded that the Governorship and State Assembly elections of 18th March 2023 actually held across the 18 Local Government Areas of Cross River State
The Centre further pointed out that it observed the distribution of the sensitive and non-sensitive election materials from the State Headquarters of INEC to the Local Government Areas and then to the RAC Centres for onward movement to various polling units of the state.
Dr. Nwambu further said the elections commenced between 8.30 am and 9.45am across the State with Ad hoc officials observed at about 7am setting up voting cubicles and election materials and that there was an increased voter-apathy when compared to the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Part of the text of the address reads:
That the BVAS performed optimally at 97% accuracy. A significant improvement when compared to the 25th February, 2023 Presidential and National Assembly Elections. However, we observed 2 instances where the BVAS malfunctioned but supervising officers were quick to replace them as voting continued in good time;
We observed that during collation in Obanliku LGA, some desperate politicians attempted to induce collation officers to alter already collated results;
We observed that an ad-hoc staff, one Mrs Glory Effiom Essien who served in Bakassi LGA was shot by a suspected militant on the 19th of March, 2023. However, she is alive and responding to treatment;
Hoodlums armed with guns and other dangerous material attacked Ogoja LGA INEC collation Centre with an intent of disrupting the collation. Some ad-hoc staffs sustained injuries before the police brought the situation under control;
Security operatives performed creditably well. The police which is the lead agency in charge of internal security and elections complied significantly with the rule of engagement and fundamental principles of election policing globally;
We also observed that the Governorship candidate of the APC, Senator Prince Bassey Otu was declared winner of the election having scored the highest number of lawful votes and was declared winner and returned elected;
Consequently, having analysed INECs logistics in the distribution of sensitive and non-sensitive materials, the performance of the BVAS, the IRev Viewing Portal, the uploading of the results from the Polling Unit level (that is the FORM EC8A Series), we can therefore say that this election in Cross River State was conducted consistent to the electoral guidelines”.
The coalition unequivocally maintained that the Governorship and State Assembly Elections of 18th March 2023 in Cross River State is transparent, free, fair and credible.
While appreciating the INEC for remaining unbiased in the conduct of this election it equally commended The Police and other law enforcement agencies for their quick response to resolving emergencies and adhering to the rules of engagement.
”Finally, for the Governorship and State Assembly elections, we wish to encourage those who lost in the election to embrace the spirit of sportsmanship by congratulating the winners of the said election”, it concluded.
INEC as an electoral body saddled with the constitutional responsibility of conducting transparent , free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria accredited civil society and Non-Governmental Organizations to serve as domestic and foreign observer groups for the 2023 General Elections.
The essence of this is for the Independent bodies to access the degree of compliance of the electoral management body (INEC), the political stakeholders , the law enforcement agencies, etc to the Electoral Act 2022 and the extant laws as provided by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended). These observer groups are to give unbiased reports on the conduct of the 2023 General Elections.
Cross River state is made up of 18 Local Government Areas, 193 Wards otherwise referred to as Registration Areas and 3,281 Polling Units. The state also has a total of 54,536 registered voters. 21,209 electorates were accredited and voted on the 18 of March, 2023 Governorship and state Assembly Elections.