A coalition of Civil Society groups, the Nigeria Human Rights Community, NHRC, has urged the federal government to consider the recommendations of Justice Uwais that recommended establishment of election tribunals to try Electoral offenders.
Making public its report after monitoring the Ekiti state governorship election, the groups director of programmes, Taiwo Adeleye commended the overall conduct of the election.
While he said security arrangement was adequate resulting in peaceful atmosphere, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, performed well especially in the area of giving priority voting access to special groups including the aged, breastfeeding mothers etc.
“There were few cases of malfunctioning machines, but these were not significant. It should be observed that in many polling booths, the INEC isolated the elderly, breast feeding mothers and the sick allowing them to vote first. We commend the efforts of the INEC staff for this unique improvement in the voting standards when compared with what was obtained in the previous years”, it said.
The group also commended the coverage of the election by the print and electronic media, as there was a conscious attempt by the media to report in an objective and balanced manner.
Adeleye said though it was a local election, the presence of mainstream media from across the country was commendable, while the aspirants largely had access to the mainstream media as the media also in many respects avoided sensationalism.
The report however observed manipulation of the state owned media in an act of brazen violation of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, (NBC) and the Nigerian Press Council, (NPC) as the Broadcasting Corporation of Ekiti State, (BSES) was broadcasting election results when INEC was yet to release the results to members of the public.
This is similar to what happened in 1983 when election results were broadcasted by state owned radio leading to widespread violence and killings in the old Ondo State, and commended the swift response of the NBC that shut down the radio station.
The report observed certain irregularities on the part of politicians especially with regard to vote buying.
“We wish to put this in historical context. Some of us, who participated in the various elections since 1999 till date, observe a new culture of bribery and corruption in the electoral system. But this is not new. It is wrong to now uphold this development as being largely responsible for the outcome of the July 14 election.
To a large extent, the election was free and fair. It reflected the free will of the people of Ekiti State. To this end, Dr. Kayode Fayemi won the election convincingly. It is trite and a clear resort to blackmail to lay claim that the election was rigged in favour of any particular candidate”.
In its recommendations it urged that political parties to adopt Direct primaries to enable mass participation of party members in the selection of candidates for the various elective positions.
To eliminate corruption in the electoral system, it recommended that the ballot boxes should be kept far away from the voters so that the decision of each voter will be known only to the voter.
Ekiti state, the group observed needs more polling booths. In many instances voters had to be transported for over 4 kilometers before they could vote.