The Civil Society Organisations of Nigeria and election monitoring body under the umbrella of Policy and Legal Advocacy Council have commended the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC for the smooth conduct of the just concluded 2015 general elections in Gombe .
The monitoring team also applauded security agencies for maintaining adequate security during the elections.
In a press briefing held by the election monitoring team for journalists in Gombe Barr Victor Alkali Lema who spoke for the team said, The Policy and Legal Advocacy Council had carefully monitored the entire conduct of the elections and had observed that INEC had achieved remarkable growth which they said was responsible for the success and smooth conduct of the elections, even as he expressed that the security situation during the elections was far better than the previous elections.
“We all know during the 2011 elections, one man lost 11 children in his house, we also recorded over 30 deaths as a result of the 2011 post election violence in Gombe, but in 2015 elections we recorded only 4, even at that, it was only at Pantami quarters, so if I’ll not use the word perfect, I’ll say there was a great improvement in terms of security.” He said.
Some of the observations made according to the group was that, INEC had done a lot of job in areas of sensitization, voter education, timely distribution Permanent Voter’s Cards, and voting materials to the various voting units.
While on security he said the monitors observed, electorates were well guarded, even as he noted with regret the ugly incident of attack by insurgents at Nafada and Dukku Local Government areas of the state during the presidential elections in which he said no less than 17 deaths were recorded.
Other observation made according to him, include that, elections were generally peaceful, also that there was massive turnout of women in some areas, special attention to the aged and people with disability, including low turnout of voters during governorship elections. Adding however that, performance of party agents at some points were good, even though he noted that, some of them refused to cooperate with INEC staff in anticipation of defeat. Lema however stated that having made all observations, the Civil Society Organisation came up with suggestions which include the need for INEC to consider adequate training particularly on new election materials for its ad-hock staff, particularly on the Card Readers, having noticed that, some ad- hock staff did not know how to use them.
Other observations include the need for INEC to make special arrangement for its ad-hock staff to enable easy safer movement of sensitive materials from polling units to collation centers. The group also recommended that, accreditation and voting should be conducted simultaneously to avoid rigging, having observed that, some accredited voters who left to return by 1:00 or 1:30 did not return, this according to them, had given room for rigging and political maneuvering,
Based on security, the election observers also suggested that, security provision should be improved in other to prevent unnecessary breaking of law and order, saying the monitors have recorded that, in Kashere district of Pindiga Local Government of the state, the district head’s house was burnt down by hoodlums after the declaration of governorship election results, including the burning of a praise singer’s house at Angwa Ukwu in Gombe.
The Civil Society further presented that, success and peaceful conduct of the elections were based on the joint effort of the security agencies, the INEC and some cooperation received from some political parties.
“Observers noted with relish that, unlike the increasing election violence that started in 2003, 2007,and 2011 has been minimised, the 2015 elections were much much peaceful, this is not unconnected with the effort of the security agencies, INEC, and without being bias, the patience of the members of the people’s Democratic Party PDP here in Gombe. Observers reported that, when presidential result was announced, some hoodlums resorted to over-joyousness using cutlasses,while when the PDP won the governorship election, their supporters expressed their joy using their party flags. That was an observation of a neutral body.” He added.