West African observers: Presidential election free, fair until counting, uploading of results

The West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF), a regional network of CSOs drawn from 15 West African states, has said the February 25 presidential election that produced Bola Tinubu of the APC as the winner, was free and fair until counting and uploading began.

Disclosing this on Tuesday in Abuja, National Executive Director of the forum, Dr Sanwo Olatunji-David, while reviewing the presidential and National Assembly elections , blamed some of the technical hitches on inadequate training of polling unit agents on the effective use of the BVAS

Our observation across the polling units monitored identified the following: Late arrival of INEC staff and election materials made the process drag late into the night and brought about frustration on the part of the voters, and thus a fertile ground for electoral malpractices; shortage of election consumables such as ink pads delayed voting in some polling units visited; some of the polling unit agents were seeing the BVAS for the second time after their hurriedly packaged training and couldn’t operate the device efficiently, this created hitches and voter frustration.

“Election was free, fair and credible up to the point of counting. The situation, however, changed after counting and uploading the result was made practically impossible for presidential results. Above is at variance to the provisions of INEC regulations for this election and the Electoral Act,” he said.

As a thematic group, our position is that the aggrieved parties did the right thing by approaching the Presidential Election Tribunal to address their grievances rather than heating the system.

Nigeria cannot afford another crisis now with the tension all over the country caused by the naira crunch and the vexation emanating from the Feb. 25 elections. We believe that approaching the court will add value by enriching and deepening our democratic values,” he said.

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