By Linda Ike
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has urged domestic and international observers to avoid interference with the election process in Nigeria.
Chairman of INEC, Mahmoud Yakubu stated this on Tuesday in Abuja while briefing the accredited election observers for the 2023 general election in keeping with international good practice.
Yakubu advised that observers must be guided by the fact that the election is conducted by the Federal Republic of Nigeria whose sovereignty must be respected.
He said, “In line with global good practice, electoral commissions in most jurisdictions invite national and international organisations to deploy observers or organise study tours for election managers during elections.
“As a consequence, observers submit reports to electoral commissions highlighting strengths and weaknesses of processes. Arising from study tours, election managers also learn from other jurisdictions. The reports and recommendations of observers and the knowledge from the study tours help electoral commissions to progressively improve processes.
“Today’s briefing for observers is in keeping with international good practice. I wish to remind observers that there is a code of conduct for election observation. You are by definition observers. Do not interfere with the process or show partisanship.
” In addition, international observers must be guided by the fact that the election is conducted by the Federal Republic of Nigeria whose sovereignty must be respected”.
According to the INEC Chairman, 2023 elections has a total of 146,813 observers, which is the largest deployment of domestic and international observers in the history of elections in Nigeria.
He stated that “the progressive improvement in our electoral democracy since 1999 draws in part from the reports of observers and the study tours. That is why over the years, the Commission has sent open or specific invitations to national and international observers. The implication is that all accredited observers are guests of INEC.
“For the 2023 General Election beginning this weekend with the Presidential and National Assembly elections, the Commission has accredited 196 national or domestic groups that are collectively deploying 144,800 observers.
Similarly, the Commission accredited 33 international organisations deploying 2,113 observers. In all, 229 groups are deploying 146,913 observers for the 2023 General Election. This is the largest deployment of domestic and international observers in the history of elections in Nigeria”.
He urged the observers to keep the rules of the elections and always ask questions where they require clarifications.