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Situation Room demands independent inquiry into 2023 general elections

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The Civil Society Situation Room, has called for an independent inquiry into the conduct of the 2023 General Elections in Nigeria.

The Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) made the call in their Second Interim Statement on the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections on Sunday in Abuja.

The report, signed by the Convener, Ene Obi, and co-coveners Asma’u Joda and James Ugochukwu, said investigation was necessary to unravel the challenges experienced and some irregularities.

Obi said that the Situation Room’s observation and analysis of the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections indicated that there were huge shortcomings with the management of electoral operations and logistics as well as election security.

She said that the elections were characterised by late commencement, insufficient election materials, challenge with upload of results, violence, and vote buying, among others.

“Situation Room notes that Nigeria has again missed the opportunity to deliver on credible elections even at the grassroots level.

“In the light of the serious shortcomings with the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections, the Situation Room calls for an independent inquiry into the conduct of the 2023 General Elections in Nigeria.

“This independent inquiry should address, amongst other issues, procurement, logistics management and abuse of electoral process by INEC and security officials.

“This is urgently needed to identify challenges and make recommendations towards repairing the damaged credibility of Nigeria’s electoral process.”

According to Obi, it is imperative to undertake a national debate to address all these critical challenges that still confront Nigeria’s electoral process.

She said that this, without doubt, would enthrone more transparency and help to build peoples’ confidence in the democratic process.

She said that Situation Room observations indicate a worrying level of voter apathy with the Governorship and State Assemblies polls in an election that should resonate more with citizens.

She added that Situation Room observers reported high prevalence of vote buying across the country.

She said that items given in exchange for votes included clothing items, food items and money, amounts ranging from N500 to N5,000 in cash, transfer or promissory notes.

Obi said Situation Room observers were harassed and obstructed from carrying out their duties and some journalists from AIT, ARISE TV among others, were also attacked.

“The Situation Room also received a disturbing report that 19 INEC ad-hoc staff who were on their way to seven different polling units in Ugbelie Ward 06 in Ideato South LGA of Imo State were abducted by unknown persons.

“There were reports of attack on voting centres in an IDP camp in Uhogwa, Ovia North East LGA of Edo State, by armed hoodlums.

“In addition, there were reports of voter intimidation, disruption of voting and destruction of election materials in polling units visited in Enugu, Imo, Sokoto, Delta, Niger, Gombe, Nasarawa, Akwa Ibom and Ogun States.”

Obi said that the Situation Room called on government to urgently address this persistent issue of election violence.

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