A Civil Society Organization, Yiaga Africa, has said that security agencies, political thugs, and party supporters denied accredited observers access to results collation centres during Saturday’s governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections.
The group stated this on Tuesday in the results verification statement jointly signed by Ezenwa Nwagwu and Samson Itodo, and circulated to journalists in Abuja, on the governorship elections in Benue, Delta, and Kano among other States it sent observers to monitor.
It noted that thugs also attacked collation centers, and unruly party agents interfered with the collation process in States like Rivers, Abia, Delta, Ebonyi, Gombe, and Enugu.
It urged security agencies to thoroughly investigate cases of abductions and killings recorded during the elections to ensure perpetrators were brought to justice.
The organization also urged members of election tribunals and appellate courts to demonstrate courage as a fundamental pillar of democracy to insulate the courts from the influence of politicians and uphold the rule of law to the highest standards in determining election petitions.
The statement reads in part: “As observed by Yiaga Africa observers, security agencies, party supporters, and political thugs denied accredited observers access to the results collation centers.
“Thugs also attacked collation centers, and unruly party agents interfered with the collation process in states like Rivers, Abia, Delta, Ebonyi, Gombe, and Enugu.
“Polling unit-level results were altered during collation without any explanation from collation officers and returning officers. In some cases, the Returning officers demonstrated a poor understanding of the guidelines and misapplied the rules.
“Yiaga Africa observers reported inconsistencies in enforcing the 2022 Electoral Act and INEC guidelines on overvoting and cancellation of votes in the application of the Margin of Lead principle.
“In a significant number of collation centers, the collation officers and returning officers failed to verify and compare the results recorded on hardcopy results sheets (Form EC 8A) with the results uploaded on the INEC Election Result Viewing Portal (IReV).
“Yiaga notes that the PVT turnout projections for the three states are consistent with INEC’s declaration. Yiaga Africa’s projections do not include cancelled polling units, as these were not consistently announced by INEC during collation. The PVT statistical analysis is based on the number of registered voters, not the number of PVCs collected.
“INEC should, in line with Section 64 of the 2022 Electoral Act, review cases where legitimate concerns have been raised on the conduct and declarations made by collation and returning officers, especially cases where declarations were made in violation of the electoral legal framework.
“Immediate investigation and prosecution of collation and returning officers’ flagrant violations of the guidelines on results collation and results manipulation.
“A comprehensive and independent audit of the 2023 general election is imperative for inspiring public confidence and ensuring accountability for operational lapses, disregard for the constitutional and electoral legal framework and cases of subversion of the people’s vote.
“Security agencies should thoroughly investigate cases of abductions and killings recorded during the election to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice.
“Members of election tribunals and appellate courts should demonstrate courage as a fundamental pillar of democracy to insulate the courts from the influence of politicians and uphold the rule of law to the highest standards in determining election petitions.”