The practice of conducting supplementary elections has become a weapon for manipulating the electoral process in Nigeria and should be jettisoned, the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room, said on Sunday.
The organisation was expressing concern over widespread irregularities, especially violence in supplementary elections held on Saturday in Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto states.
The group regretted that the safety of electoral officers, staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, ad-hoc personnel and observers was not guaranteed in such exercise.
The Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre and Convener, NCSSR, Clement Nwankwo, expressed these views in a statement on the observations of the supplementary elections jointly endorsed by two alternate chairs, Y.Z Yau and Esther Uzoma.
The statement read, “Some of the flaws observed in the supplementary elections are recurrent in Nigeria’s elections. As a country, we need to condemn these acts of voter intimidation and insecurity that have recurred in the supplementary elections, even leading to the shooting of a returning officer.
“The safety of election day workers, staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission and ad-hoc staff, returning officers and observers is not guaranteed and portends great danger for future elections in Nigeria. The actions of political parties and their supporters continue to undermine the confidence in our electoral process as well as the rights of citizens to participate fully in elections and cast their votes without fear.
“Situation Room also calls on INEC to ensure that there is an end to supplementary elections, as it appears that the process is now a manipulating tool to circumvent the elections.
“The widespread incidents of violence, thuggery and abuse of the electoral process, especially as reported in Gama ward of Kano State, must be addressed by INEC. Situation Room believes that the level of abuse recorded in Gama ward is of such monumental proportions as to necessitate INEC expunging the outcome of the supposed voting results coming from Gama ward from the final collation of results for the Kano State Governorship elections.
“In Benue State, there were also reports of violence. In Gboko Local Government, for instance, a local government returning officer, Prof. Comfort Dooshima Tuleun, was shot by unknown gunmen in Makurdi and now hospitalised.
“There was also the issue of political thuggery. In Uyam Ward in Ukum Local Government of Benue State, armed thugs invaded the polling unit and set the election materials on fire.
“The act of underage voting was recorded in Sokoto and Plateau states. In Sokoto State, underage voting was reported in PU003 and 011 Tauma Ward, Bodinga Local Government, while in Plateau, Rafan Ward, Barkin Ladi Local Government, there was report of underage voters with valid Permanent Voter Cards.”
Situation Room reiterated that elections in Nigeria could be conducted devoid of violence and widespread irregularities.
“Early reports received from the collation process in Gama Ward in Nasarawa Local Government of Kano State showed that observers were denied access to the collation centre contrary to INEC Regulations and Guidelines. By Paragraph 48 of the guidelines, accredited domestic and foreign observers shall be allowed access to collation centres”, NCSSR said.