By Angela Atabo
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room), a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), has called on political parties to play by the rules ahead of Saturday’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections.
Ms Ene Obi, Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, made the call on Friday at a news conference on the preliminary statement of the group, in Abuja.
Obi said that the coalition of over 70 CSOs convened in Abuja to observe the Area Council Elections in the FCT.
“We call on the political parties to play by the rules throughout the voting process and enjoin candidates and their supporters to uphold the principles of free, fair and credible elections.
“Situation Room further calls on political parties to provide a better environment for social inclusion in their nomination and party processes.”
Obi said that the group was expectant that the elections in the FCT would improve upon the gains observed in the Anambra State governorship election 2021.
She said that the observation of the pre-election environment revealed that political parties needed to work to change the narrative of political exclusion of women, youths and Persons With Disabilities.
“Situation Room is concerned about the poor level of inclusion in these elections.
“In Abaji Area Council, not even a female or a person with disability (PWD) candidate is nominated by a political party for Chairmanship, Vice or Councillorship.
“ Only three female councillorship candidates were nominated in Kuje, and in Kwali only one vice chairmanship candidate and one councillorship are female. “
According to Obi, in general, of the 475 candidates nominated by the 14 political parties participating in the 2022 FCT Area Council Elections, only 41 candidates comprised of three chairmanship candidates eight vice chairmanship candidates and 30 councillorship candidates are female.
She said that Situation Room, however, noted that there was a PWD councillorship candidate in Karu Ward of AMAC.
Obi said that Situation Room acknowledged the assurance given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that it was fully prepared for the election.
The Situation Room convener said that INEC also assured that there would be no inadequacy with logistics and deployment.
She said that the group also noted the assurance of the Police, as the lead agency on election security that security personnel deployed for the elections were properly trained to conduct themselves professionally and within the civil rules of engagement.
Obi said that Situation Room deployed accredited observers across the six Area Councils and would work with its partners and networks to observe and provide information from the field on all stages of the elections.
She said that in the lead up to the elections, the political environment in the FCT was quite calm and peaceful, except for pockets of tensions over the authentic chairmanship candidate of a political party in AMAC.
According to her, Situation Room hopes that the environment will remain peaceful throughout and after the elections.
She said that the group hoped that INEC would follow through on its commitment to enhancing its processes and systems for the elections, particularly the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
“At this time, sensitive materials have been deployed and INEC has stated its deployment of 2,822 BVAS machines and 12,000 adhoc staff.
“ Situation Room expects much improvement on the logistics for this election, considering this is a smaller terrain and registered voters of 1,373, 492.”
Obi said that Situation Room would be holding INEC accountable for its commitment and assurances of preparedness.
She said that the group would look out for how INEC administered the elections in terms of early distribution and deployment of personnel and materials.
Obi said that they would also look out for timely opening of polls, knowledge of election procedures and accreditation devices by poll officials.
She said that the effectiveness of the BVAS and adherence to COVID-19 Protocols on Election day would be checked as well as transparent collation process and transmission of polling unit results, particularly the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) Portal.
Obi said that Situation Room would also watch out for hotspots identified by the Police, and called on the Force to document evidence of any violation of the Electoral Act to bring offenders to book.
She said that the Situation Room enjoined all eligible voters in the FCT to come out to vote peacefully. (NAN)
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