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Nigerian Elections Marred by Lack of Transparency and Operational Failures, Says EU Observers

EU observer mission reports operational failures and lack of transparency during Nigeria’s recent general election, challenging the right to vote.

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Nigerian Elections Marred by Lack of Transparency and Operational Failures, Says EU Observers

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The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) has released its first preliminary statement on the 2023 Nigerian presidential and National Assembly elections, highlighting a lack of transparency and operational failures that reduced trust in the process and challenged the right to vote.

In a statement delivered on February 27 in Abuja, the EU EOM noted that while the elections were held on schedule, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lacked efficient planning and transparency during critical stages of the electoral process, and trust in INEC further reduced on election day due to delayed polling processes and information gaps related to access to results on its Results Viewing Portal.

The EU EOM stated that in the lead-up to the elections, the Electoral Act 2022 introduced measures aimed at building stakeholder trust but left some important gaps in terms of accountability and INEC’s power to enforce the law.

On February 25, Nigerians went to the polls in the highly anticipated presidential and National Assembly elections that were kept on schedule despite a volatile and challenging environment. However, delayed training of technical personnel, an inadequate mock testing exercise, and a lack of public information on the election technologies diminished expectations and left room for speculation and uncertainty.

Media provided extensive coverage of the three leading campaigns, while disinformation interfered with voters’ right to make an informed choice on election day. The EU EOM also noted that the security situation in some parts of the country raised concerns over the safety of voters, electoral officials, and materials.

The EU EOM’s statement is part of its ongoing observation of the electoral process in Nigeria, which will include analyzing the legal framework, campaign activities, the media environment, and election day proceedings.

The EU EOM’s preliminary statement highlights the importance of transparency and accountability in the electoral process, as well as the need for measures to strengthen trust in the electoral commission and the wider electoral process. The EU EOM is expected to issue a final report with recommendations after the completion of its observation mission.

The Nigerian elections have been closely watched by the international community due to their significance for the country’s democratic stability and the wider region. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and the largest oil producer on the continent, and political stability is crucial for its economic and social development. The EU EOM’s observations and recommendations will be important for the Nigerian government and civil society groups as they seek to improve the integrity and transparency of future elections.

The EU EOM’s statement comes at a time of heightened concern over the state of democracy and human rights in Nigeria. The government has been criticized for its crackdown on civil society groups, journalists, and opposition figures, as well as its handling of security challenges, including the insurgency in the northeast and violence in other parts of the country. The EU EOM’s observation mission will provide valuable insights into the state of Nigeria’s democracy and its prospects for the future.

Read the full PDF statement here.

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