2023 Presidential Election: ECOWAS Decries Irregularities
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been asked to draw credible conclusions from the electoral process by the African Union (AU) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Observation Missions deployed to the Nigerian general elections.
The call was made yesterday in Abuja during a preliminary briefing on the elections, which was led by former presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, head of the AU mission, and Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone, head of the ECOWAS delegation.
They also urged Nigerians to remain calm until announcement of the final result from INEC and cautioned against disinformation and fake news, especially on social media platforms that would incite post-election violence.
Responding to questions from journalists, Koroma said the AU and EU Observation Missions was urging INEC to improve on its communication to avoid any form of speculations, disinformation and fake news.
Koroma said they urged INEC to stick to its tenet of credibility and integrity to ensure that the peaceful process it already started comes to a peaceful conclusion.
The leader of ECOWAS delegation said beyond Observation Mission, they were in Nigeria alongside the AU Mission on a diplomatic engagement to ensure a peaceful transition.
“All we can do at this stage as we have done in the preliminary report is urge INEC to, where possible, improve on communication with the public and members of political parties.
“Improve on the counting and collation methods and review the uploading, because these were all systems that INEC promised to rule out without any difficulties.
“And as observers, we cannot make conclusive statements but will continue to urge INEC because there is a lot of anxiety out there, people are anxiously waiting.
“And the more we delay, the more we give room to speculations, misinformation and disinformation. So we are concerned about this.
“We will continue our engagements with INEC and other stakeholders to ensure that what has started as a relatively peaceful process will continue and end up in a manner that is acceptable to every one of us, including the Nigerian populace,” Koroma said.
Koroma said the ECOWAS and AU Observation Missions was strongly appealing to Nigerians against post-election violence, adding that the outcomes of the process would be a strong statement for the sub-region and Africa’s democracy.
“We appeal to Nigerians to remain peaceful and calm, listen to the official sources of dissemination of result and do not listen to the general social media platforms. They are disinformation and can cause problems.
“That is why as the AU and ECOWAS, beyond observation, we have now been transformed to a preventive diplomacy engagement.
“And we will continue to engage the stakeholders, INEC, political parties until the whole process is concluded and there is a peaceful transition to a new leadership.
“We urge Nigerians to complete a process started in an encouraging manner,” Koroma said.
Also responding to questions, Kenyatta said they have tried to be as transparent as possible in reporting what they have seen, adding that the process s not over until declarations are made.
He also urged the electoral umpire to rectify whatever challenges it is encountering so that the process can be brought to a credible and peaceful conclusion.
“The only thing I can do is join President Koroma in appealing to INEC to recognise the mood and see what the situation is to speed up the process and ensure that process of accountability and credibility that they have maintained so far.
“To continue to maintain it to the end so that true will of the good people of Nigeria shall be expressed in the leaders that they elect.
“We have no reason whatsoever to doubt the integrity of INEC. For us, it is to continue to appeal that those glitches they are having be rectified. The sooner the process is brought to a transparent conclusion, the better[/b].
“And the only appeal we will have over and above that is to all stakeholders, political parties, the candidates to have the patience to await the final authority entrusted to do that.
“To abide by the peace accord that we all witnessed signed and whatever the outcome to follow legal and constitutional means to air whatever grievances that they may have.
“And for those who are indeed in concluding this process, to continue to abide by sworn duty to ensure that Nigerians are able to have a free and fair election that shall express true will of the people of Nigeria,” Kenyatta said.
President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, thanked the AU and ECOWAS Observation Mission who came on the invitation of the ECOWAS Commissions for delivering on their mandate.
He also thanked the media for the good coverage of the elections, especially at a time where fake news have dominated the media space.
“ECOWAS will indeed follow results closely and continue to reach out to all stakeholders within the framework of our preventive diplomacy”.