The European Union (EU) Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) has raised concerns about the integrity of Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections in Nigeria.
The EU EOM, during its preliminary briefing in Abuja on Monday, said the secrecy of the ballot was not observed in many polling units during the elections.
“In 100 of 240 observed polling units, the layout did not sufficiently protect the secrecy of the vote; in more than half the voters did not mark the ballot in secrecy,” it stated in its report.
Nigeria’s President, Muhmmadu Buhari, displayed his ballot to reveal the party he voted for after casting his vote on Saturday.
While noting the malfunctioning of BVAS in some polling units, the EU EOM observers also reported that key polling procedures were not always followed.
“In 32 of the observed polling units, the voter register was not always ticked. Observers reported underage voting in Sokoto and Kano.”
It stated that prior to elections, stakeholders expressed confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s independence, professionalism, and voter information efforts, but said this deteriorated as election day approached notably in Kano and Lagos.
“On election night, trust in the institution was seen to diminish due to information gaps and INEC’s failure to promptly respond to stakeholder disquiet over logistical and security lapses and later the failure of public access to presidential results on the IReV.
“INEC’s communication approach was characterised mostly by delivery of general information through stakeholder consultations and press conferences frequently lacking detail.
“Public information about key electoral procedures and precise data was not readily available, including the safeguards for the integrity and reliability of the BVAS, the process of collecting PVCs, voter registration updates, and the rationale of court orders changing candidate lists.
“Publication of such information would have notably enhanced the transparency and certainty of the process,” EU EOM said.
While acknowledging that counting was undertaken in full public view, the EU EOM said the overall conduct was negatively assessed by observers in 9 of 37 observations.
“It evidenced poor attention to procedures for completion of forms and for packing and sealing of sensitive materials.
“In 16 of 37 observed polling units, staff had difficulties understanding and completing results forms. The figures in the results forms did not reconcile in 9 out of 37 of observations.
“In 24 out of 37 units, the results were not posted publicly and in 22 of 37 units, the form was not uploaded using BVAS”, according to the EU EOM.