2023 Election: Avalanche Of Court Cases Give Credence To EU-EOM Report

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By Barrister Emmanuel Anene

When the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) released its final report on the conduct of 2023 general elections in Nigeria, majority of ordinary Nigerians, credible civil society organisations and serious-minded political parties welcomed the report as the undiluted reflection of what actually transpired in Nigeria’s 2023 general elections.

It is noteworthy that it is only the beneficiary of the electoral heist and their cronies that have naively criticized the EU EOM report.

For the benefit of hindsight, the EU EOM has 50 member countries and it monitors elections around the world in both European Union and non European Union members including Nigeria. EU-EOM has monitored seven (7) general elections in Nigeria since 1999 including 2015 general elections which saw the opposition party for the first time in the country defeating the incumbent which same EU they are now calling names commended as being free, fair and credible.

This was the election which saw former President Jonathan of Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) congratulating Former President Buhari even before the official announcement of the presidential election result; a feat that is only obtainable in United States of America and other advanced democracies in the World.

It is on record that EU EOM report has integrity engraved on it based on verifiable facts and that was why Mr Barry Andrew, the EU EOM Chief Observer while presenting the report, noted that the report was based on analysis of compliance with Nigeria’s regional and international commitment to democratic elections.

Continuing the Chief Observer stated that there were enduring systematic weaknesses that if corrected would lead to drastic improvements in elections in Nigeria. He noted the following areas of major concerns viz: the PVC collection processes which were fraught with needless difficulties occasioned by patent institutional hiccups and lacking in transparency and lack of credible voters’ register to which he suggested inclusiveness and independent audit.

Others include misuse of power of incumbency by governors leading to undue interference, divisive rhetorics based on ethnicity and religion. late arrival of electoral officials and material leading to suppression of voters. lack of transparency in results collation and violence, assassinations, thuggery, and impunity which obstructed the smooth conduct of the election in some areas. He equally noted that public confidence in INEC was severely damaged due to operational deficiencies and lack of transparency.

Andrew however suggested the removal of all ambiguities in the Electoral Act and guidelines, establishing publicly accountable processes for the appointment of INEC Chairman and members, and ensuring real-time publication of and access to election results. Others recommendations of the observer mission also include, providing greater protection for media practitioners, addressing discrimination against women in political life and addressing impunity regarding electoral offences.

Regrettably, instead of the Federal Government picking up the low hanging fruits from the EU EOM reports with respect to identified challenges and address them so as to foster and engender credible and acceptable elections in Nigeria and unite our polarised country, its official spokes persons unfortunately engaged in idle talks trying to launder the sham election by branding facts and evidence-driven EU EOM reports as poor desk job.

For us at the International Coalition for Democracy and Good Governance (ICDGG), it is a disservice to our demoratic aspirations and hypocritical to dismiss with a wave of hand the report of a major critical stakeholder that spent millions of dollars to support credible elections in Nigeria. Worst still, the Federal Government further accused a non-partisan body like EU EOM of bias for having released a compromised report even as majority of Nigerians are in sync with the position of the body.

It is on this score that we urge President Bola Tinubu to as a matter of urgent national interest to tow the path of Late President Yaradua who humbly accepted that the election that brought him in 2007 was flawed and immediately began a reform and healing process to douse the tension created by that election.

President Bola Tinubu should also call his overzealous defenders to order so as to moderate their language when reacting or responding to issues, especially such that affects unity of the country

Glaringly, what President Bola Tinubu needs at this critical point in our national life is diplomatic engagements on issues that pertain to 2023 general elections and not idle talks coming from some of his overzealous aides.

It is our firm belief that EU EOM report simply represented what transpired and other international observers and majority of Nigerians witnessed during 2023 general elections. No amount of blackmail can detract from the said report’s integrity and forightness. It is our enlightened submission that calling our critical development partners names is a disservice to the country and a low score for President Tinubu’s administration. It is on this stead that we urge President Bola Tinubu to eat the humble pie and accept the shortcomings that rubbed off on credibility of the 2023 general elections. If we may ask, why has INEC and its co-hots been unable to explain clearly to Nigerians how internet glitch affected only Presidential election results transmission and could not affect both House of Representatives and Senatorial District elections that were all conducted simultaneously.

Regrettably, Inter-party Advisory Council, (IPAC) which ordinarily should be the organized forum of opposition political parties and which core mandate is to act as a check on the ruling party as it affects its policies and programmes, especially election related matters has not only turned out to be a protege of INEC but the mouthpiece through which INEC replies salient and constructive criticisms raised by the critical stakeholders who mean well for Nigeria. Nigerians watched with dismay when IPAC Chairman Yabagi Sani made a reckless comment that it did not matter what anybody said about 2023 general elections and urged the EU EOM not to cry more than the bereaved and that INEC should be commended for innovation it brought to bear on the 2023 general elections.
This statements to say the least is unfortunate given the avalanche of election petition cases before various Tribunals challenging the conduct and outcome of the 2023 general elections.

Finally, we urge President Bola Tinubu to be a patriot and statesman like Former President Yaradua who openly admitted that the election that brought him to power was tainted with imperfections and in its place promised an enduring electoral reforms and set up Justice Uwais panel, In the same vein, President Tinubu should copy Former President Yaradua’s example by openly admitting glaring shortcomings of 2023 general elections.

The several upturned results in the courts though some of them contentious have further worsened the matter. The developments equally shows that our judiciary also needs to be overhauled. Both at the tribunal and Appeal Courts controversial judgements have been delivered indeed our democracy is in danger and needs to rescued.

Emmanuel Anene Esq
Executive Director
(ICDGG)

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