The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the conduct of the just concluded off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States in spite of the overwhelming challenges it had to cope with during the polls.
The CUPP said it was pertinent to commend the umpire when and where it performs well just as they have criticised the commission for its lapses in the past.
They said from the reports of the different observer groups and Non-Governmental Organisations working with the CUPP and others across the three states, the conduct and outcome of the election appeared to have been best in Kogi State.
The group said: “Overall, Kogi State appears to have been where the election was best in conduct and outcome.
“YIAGA Africa even confirmed in their reports that their Pre-election projections and the ultimate outcome in Kogi State substantially tally with INEC declarations”, they noted.
The Coalition leaders spoke at a press conference in Abuja, during the presentation of communique on the review of the off-season elections in Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo states, with the theme; ‘INEC, Nigerian elections and the rest of us’.
They also commended security agencies for the prompt arrests of individuals who were seen to pose security threats in the elections in the three states and their refusal to succumb to the blackmail of some political actors who had attempted to hamstring them in the performance of their constitutional duties of securing elections even before the election date.
Barrister Emeka Igwe, Member, Steering Committee of the CUPP, who presented the communique on behalf of others who were also present at the press briefing, said reports by various observer groups and CUPP members on ground, especially party agents, showed that there was a great improvement in the early arrival of INEC officials and election materials at Polling Units “except in few places due to security and logistic factors”.
Part of the communique read, “After all said and done, INEC seems to have improved better in its affairs in conducting elections, judging by field reports. It is the other players in Nigeria’s elections who should sit up and play according to the rules. Reports of prompt attention to complaints and other emergencies by INEC are quite commendable.
“Among the three states, the results later announced by INEC appeared to be an overwhelming reflection of the votes cast by the people in both Kogi and Bayelsa states whilst serious questions and allegations have been raised on Imo State in the areas of voter intimidation, over-voting, vote buying and security breaches.
“Overall, Kogi State appears to have been where the election was best in conduct and outcome. YIAGA Africa also confirmed in their reports that their Pre-election projections and the ultimate outcome in Kogi State substantially tally with INEC declarations. (Kindly find attached the YIAGA Africa report).”
“We call on all relevant agencies to investigate all allegations with a view to doing the needful to instill public confidence in our elections,” the CUPP added.
On the issue of vote buying, it stated, “This sad phenomenon in our elections is one challenge that must be deliberately eliminated by constitutional means. For a long time now, INEC has been emphasising the negative effects of vote buying through its consistent election awareness/education campaigns but politicians have found a way to violate this law by compromising voters financially.
“In order to discourage and discontinue this bad behaviour, there must be a stringent criminalisation of the matter and enforcement.”
The Coalition, however, said the responsibility for a free, fair and credible election was that of everyone and not INEC alone, urging INEC to continue to improve in areas they are found wanting.