Gov Poll: UK Laments Violence, Voter Suppression, Others
The British High Commission has said it observed violence, vote-buying, voter suppression and intimidation during the March 18 governorship and Houses of Assembly elections in some states in the country.
In a statement on Wednesday, the commission listed Lagos, Enugu and Rivers as some of the states where its observers witnessed the cases.
The commission, however, hailed the Independent National Electoral Commission for the improvement made in its conduct of the election compared to its performance in the presidential election of February 25.
The statement read, “We observed improvements around elections logistics by INEC during the gubernatorial elections, particularly when compared to the presidential elections More polling units opened on time, there was greater evidence of BVAS and IREV working and results uploaded in real time from polling units and collation centres. These are positive markers to build on for future elections
“However, there were notable points of concern. Members of our observation mission personally observed violence, and voter suppression in numerous voting locations. We witnessed and received credible reports from other observer missions and civil society organisations of vote-buying and voter intimidation, the destruction and hijacking of election materials and the general disruption of the process in numerous states including Lagos, Enugu and Rivers.
“In addition, we observed incidents of harassment of journalists. Freedom of speech and a free press are crucial for a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to go about their work without being threatened.”
The commission also expressed displeasure at the ethno-religious language uttered by some public and political figures, just as it urged them and their supporters to distance themselves from such.
The statement said relevant information that will be used to take action against individuals who engaged or masterminded electoral violence and other anti-democratic behaviours was ongoing.
It said this lined up with the position of the UK Minister of State for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell MP, who spoke on February 21.
“We urge any party or individual who wishes to challenge the process or outcome of the elections to do so peacefully and through the appropriate legal channels. We will be observing the course of legal challenges made.
“The 2023 elections are not only important to Nigeria and Nigerians, but to Africa and the world as a whole. As a long-term partner, the UK is committed to strengthening the ties between our countries and peoples, including by supporting democratic development,” the statement concluded.