Final Report of the EU Election Observation Mission to Nigeria 2007 [April 14, 21 Elections]

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STAR STAR FINAL REPORT:  Of the EU Election Observation Mission to Nigeria 2007 [April 14, April 21 Elections]

http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/human_rights/eu_election_ass_observ/nigeria/press_rel_23_08_07_en.pdf
Press Release- 23 August 2007

European UnionElection Observation MissionNigeria 2007

Press Release

EU observers conclude elections fell far short of basic international and
regional standards and urge swift and comprehensive electoral reform

ABUJA, 23 August 2007 – The 2007 elections fell far short of basic international and
regional standards for democratic elections, concludes the final report of the European
Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM), which is released today.

“Our report contains two clear messages”, said Max van den Berg MEP, Chief Observer of
the EU EOM. “First, that the 2007 election process was not credible, and in view of the lack
of transparency and evidence of fraud, there can be no confidence in the results. Second that
urgent and comprehensive reform is required to improve the framework and conduct of future elections.”

The EOM concluded that the elections were marred by very poor organisation, lack of
essential transparency, widespread procedural irregularities, substantial evidence of fraud,

widespread voter disenfranchisement, lack of equal conditions for political paties and
candidates and numerous incidents of violence. This was all the more regrettable since the
elections were held in an improved atmosphere in which freedoms of expression and
assembly were broadly respected during campaigning, the judiciary played a generally
positive and independent role and the people showed a remarkable commitment to
democracy.

International and regional standards that were breached included Article 25 of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Articles 3, 5, 6 and 7 of the
ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.

“It is essential that the Nigerian authorities immediately begin to take steps to improve the
electoral framework and demonstrate sufficient political will to ensure that the next
presidential and parliamentary elections are held in full compliance with international and
regional standards”, added Max van den Berg. “In this regard, our report contains detailed
recommendations, which we hope will be seriously considered by all stakeholders. These
concern various issues, including the need to establish an independent and capable election
administration, improve the voter register, ensure secrecy of the ballot, enhance transparency
of the process and establish better procedures for complaints and petitions.”

The EU EOM was deployed from 14 March to 7 May 2007. Based Abuja, it consisted of a 11
member Core Team, 66 long term observers, and 60 short term observers from 21 EU
Member States as well as Norway and Switzerland. Over the election day periods, it was
joined by a delegation from the European Parliament.

The EU EOM undertook a comprehensive assessment of the election process in accordance
with international standards for democratic elections, and operated in accordance with the
“Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation”, commemorated at the United

Nations in New York in October 2005.

http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/human_rights/eu_election_ass_observ/nigeria/report_final_annex_23-08-07_en.pdf

FINAL REPORT
GUBERNATORIAL AND STATE HOUSESOF ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS14 April 2007
AND
PRESIDENTIAL AND NATIONALASSEMBLY ELECTIONS21 April 2007 EUROPEAN UNIONELECTION OBSERVATION MISSION

EU Election Observation Mission, Nigeria 2007 1
Final Report: Presidential, National Assembly, Gubernatorial and State House of Assembly Elections

I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Elections for State Governors and 990 Legislators in the 36 State Houses of Assembly were held on 14
April 2007 and elections for the Federal President, 109 Members of the Senate and 360 Members of
the House of Representatives took place on 21 April 2007. Following an invitation from the
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the European Union (EU) established an
Election Observation Mission (EOM) with a mandate to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the

electoral process in accordance with international standards for democratic elections. The EU EOM
was led by Chief Observer Mr. Max van den Berg (Netherlands), Member of the European Parliament,
and consisted of 11 Core Team experts, 66 Long Term Observers and 60 Short Term Observers from
21 EU Member States as well as Norway and Switzerland. Based in Abuja it was deployed on 14
March 2007 and undertook observation in 33 of the 36 States plus the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The 2007 State and Federal elections fell far short of basic international and regional standards for
democratic elections.1 They were marred by very poor organisation, lack of essential transparency,
widespread procedural irregularities, substantial evidence of fraud, widespread voter
disenfranchisement at different stages of the process, lack of equal conditions for political parties and
candidates and numerous incidents of violence. As a result, the process cannot be considered to have
been credible. Given the lack of transparency and evidence of fraud, particularly in the result collation
process, there can be no confidence in the results of these elections. This is all the more regrettable
since they were held in an improved atmosphere in which freedoms of expression and assembly were
broadly respected during campaigning, the judiciary played a generally positive and independent role
and the people showed remarkable commitment to democracy, eagerly engaging in the electoral
process and waiting patiently to vote in often very difficult circumstances.

The Electoral Act 2006 contains some improvement in comparison to the Electoral Act 2002.
However, independence of INEC from the executive was not established due to the fact that
presidential involvement in the appointment of INEC Commissions was retained. Significantly,
fundamental transparency requirements, in particular for the collation and publication of results,
requiring polling station results to be publicly displayed at all levels of the counting and collation

processes were not included, leaving the electoral process wide open to fraud.

INEC, which was financially dependent on the executive, was responsible for administrative failure on
a nationwide scale. It did not prepare well for the elections and experienced widespread lack of
confidence among election stakeholders in relation to its capacity and impartiality. Deadlines were
missed throughout the pre-election period and it lacked transparency in its decisions and conduct.
INEC was selective and inconsistent in the application and enforcement of electoral legislation.
Training of polling staff started late, was of poor quality and in some areas did not take place at all.
Engagement with political parties and civil society was poor. Overall, civic and voter education was
very limited and ineffective.

The voter registration exercise conducted by INEC was marred by delays due to a lack of available
direct data capturing machines, technical break downs and establishment of illegal voter registration
centres. The quality of the final voter register was poor and included under age voters, double entries,
missing and blurred pictures of voters. The voter register was not displayed at local level as required
by the law and was only partly posted prior to election day for orientation purposes only. Permanent
voter registration cards were not issued due to the late publication of the final voter register.

The pre-election period saw a vigorous campaigning throughout the country, particularly in states
where there was the prospect of a change in power. However, a lack of transparency and
accountability in campaign spending, together with the misuse of state resources gave advantage to
incumbent parties at the state and federal level, and meant there was an uneven playing field for
candidates and parties. Payment to potential voters was both witnessed by, and reported to, EU
observers. Violence was a major issue of concern and incidents increased as the election days drew

nearer. Credible reports indicated that at least 200 people, including candidates and police were killed
in election related incidents. This is unacceptable not only with respect to right to life but also to the
democratic process. The continuing and widespread use of thugs by a number of political parties
created a significant degree of fear and intimidation. Despite welcomed and repeated messages from
security agencies showing a tolerance zero policy towards political violence, the security agencies,
INEC and political parties did not appear to take decisive steps to address the situation and hold
perpetrators to account.

There is a vibrant and expanding media environment. Presidential contestants and their parties were
given equal access to discussion programmes, aired on state as well as private broadcast media,
facilitating informed choices of voters. However, there was a failure to adhere to the legal
requirements to provide balanced coverage by state-owned media which showed bias in favour of the
incumbent party, and more generally by broadcast media, which focused on a small number of parties
only. Generally, journalists were able to operate in an environment of relative freedom, given the
systematic weaknesses that characterise the media sector.

On election day for the state elections, polling started late throughout the country due to the late arrival
of polling officials and materials, which were often incomplete. In several areas, polling did not take
place at all. Polling stations were generally under-staffed with officials who were under-trained.
Procedures were often poorly followed and the secrecy of the ballot was not guaranteed in the majority
of polling stations visited by EU observers. However party agents were seen in almost all polling
stations visited with domestic observers present in close to half. Incidents of hijacking of ballot boxes
were witnessed by EU observers, who reported widespread irregularities, including under-age voting,

and significant evidence of fraud, particularly during the result collation process, which completely
lacked transparency due to the fact that polling station results were not publicly displayed at any level
of the election administration throughout the country. Following INEC’s decision to order a complete
re-run of the gubernatorial election in Imo State, it should have initiated investigations in a number of
other states and given serious consideration to ordering complete election re-runs where serious
concerns were raised by political parties, civil society and the media about the conduct of elections.
On election day for the federal elections, polling materials, including ballot papers, again arrived late
and incomplete at many of the polling stations observed, resulting in significant delays in opening.
Several National Assembly elections had to be postponed due to the incorrect printing of ballot papers,
and at times there were insufficient numbers of presidential ballot papers. Party agents were again seen
in almost all polling stations visited with domestic observers present in around half. A heavier security
presence helped contribute to a reduction in violent incidents. Again, polling procedures were often
poorly followed and the secrecy of the vote was not guaranteed in the majority of polling stations
observed. EU observers witnessed many examples of fraud, including ballot box stuffing, multiple
voting, intimidation of voters, alteration of official result forms, stealing of sensitive polling materials,
vote buying and under-age voting. Despite assurances by INEC, polling station result forms were not
displayed at polling stations or superior levels of the election administration. In a development that
cast further doubt on the integrity of the results, at the time of the announcement of the result of the
presidential election, some state presidential results had not been compiled or transferred to the INEC
headquarters in Abuja.

Several disputes relating, in particular, to (i) the powers and functions of INEC, and (ii) the
nomination, substitution and disqualification of candidates brought the judiciary into centre stage in
the electoral process. Overall, the Judiciary, in generally acting impartially, were considered to have
made a positive contribution to the election process. However, the lack of adequate procedures and
time limits for initiation and adjudications of complaints and appeals prior to election day resulted in a
number of disputes being dealt with by the courts just a few days before the elections. Some remained
pending until after the election. In a positive development the Court of Appeal established
mechanisms to simplify and ensure timely determination of post-election petitions. However, the
mechanisms have not proved as effective as hoped and at the time this report was issued,2 most
election petitions remained pending before the election tribunals.

Civil society organisations mounted a comprehensive observation exercise. However, INEC
unnecessarily delayed the accreditation of both domestic and international election observers which
restricted the oversight role they could play. Most domestic observer groups only received
accreditation cards on the day before the state elections, and then in insufficient numbers. Screening of
domestic observer organisations was undertaken by the State Security Services.
Despite strong commitments from INEC during the pre electoral period, significant efforts by civil
society and measures by some political parties to wave nomination fees for female candidates, women
remain underrepresented as candidates and within the electoral administration.

The high levels of poverty, illiteracy and lack of access to basic needs, including education has an
impact on the conduct of elections. Reaching the Millennium Development Goals should therefore be
a key aspect of the consolidation of democracy as well as contributing towards improving social

justice and economic development. In addition, increased international support should be directed
towards good governance and democratisation, particularly through civil society organisations.
In order for the citizens of Nigeria to have trust and confidence in the political and electoral process, a
comprehensive and transparent investigation should be undertaken into the conduct of the elections to
ensure that those responsible for the chaos and irregularities are held to account. INEC should publish
detailed results of the 2007 elections broken down to polling station level on its website and publicly
display these results at INEC offices so that an independent audit can be undertaken from the polling
station level through to final aggregated results. Urgent remedial action by the relevant authorities and
stakeholders is necessary to restore conditions for the holding of credible and transparent elections. In
this context, detailed recommendations are included at the end of this report by way of assistance to
the process of improving the framework for elections. Some of the key recommendations include:

• Concrete steps should be taken to establish a truly independent and capable election
administration. This should include the introduction of a transparent, inclusive and accountable
system for the nomination and appointment of INEC Commissioners and Resident Electoral
Commissioners (RECs) which ensures the confidence of election stakeholders.

• INEC should immediately start work to improve the voter register, removing double registration,
under age entries, entries without pictures and other shortcomings. This should be undertaken with
a view to ensuring public and political confidence at all stages of the process

• Voting booths should be used in all polling stations and procedures to ensure the secrecy of the
vote should be implemented effectively.

• Impunity for electoral violations should cease and political parties should end the practice of

hiring thugs to perpetrate electoral violence.

• Transparency should be enhanced and ensured, particularly with regard to INEC meetings and
decisions and swift publication of detailed polling station results at all levels of the election
administration.

• An effective framework should be established to ensure that the mass media provides equitable
access and coverage to political parties and candidates during the campaign period.

• Complaints, appeals and petitions procedures should be enhanced to ensure clear, effective,
transparent and timely processes for election stakeholders.

The EU EOM urges the authorities, political parties and civil society of Nigeria to swiftly start to take
these and other required steps in order to improve the framework and conduct of future elections in
accordance with international standards for democratic elections.

[1 In particular those contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which
Nigeria ratified in 1993, and the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) Protocol on
Democracy and Good Governance, adopted in 2001. Standards that were breached include Article 25 of the
ICCPR, and Articles 3, 5, 6, 7 of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, relating to
secrecy of the vote, universal franchise, independence and neutrality of the election administration,
transparency and the disposal of petitions.]
[2 This final report was issued on 21 August 2007.]

II. INTRODUCTION

Elections for the 36 State Governors and 990 Legislators in the 36 State Houses of Assembly were
held on 14 April 2007 and elections for the President of Nigeria, 109 Members of the Senate and 360
Members of the House of Representatives took place on 21 April 2007. Following an invitation from
the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the European Union (EU) established an
Election Observation Mission (EOM) in Nigeria with a mandate was to conduct a comprehensive

assessment of the electoral process in accordance with international principles for genuine democratic
elections.3 The Chief Observer was Mr. Max van den Berg (Netherlands), Member of the European
Parliament. The EU EOM adhered to the Declaration of Principles for International Election
Observation, commemorated at the United Nations in October 2005.

The EU EOM was deployed on 14 March 2007. Based in Abuja, the Mission undertook observation in
33 of the 36 States of Nigeria plus the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The EU EOM consisted of 11
core team experts, 66 long-term observers and 60 short-term observers, coming from 21 EU Member
States as well as Norway and Switzerland. The EU EOM issued its statement of preliminary findings
and conclusions on 23 April 2007.4 The EU EOM closed its operations on 7 May 2007 but retained
one local staff member until the end of August 2007 to continue monitoring the election petition and
tribunal processes and other legal challenges related to the elections.

— materials deleted —-

XVII. RECOMMENDATIONS

The following recommendations to improve the framework and conduct of elections process
as well as related areas are offered for consideration and action by the Nigerian authorities,
other election stakeholders and international community:

Implement clear and effective guidelines for voting, counting, collation and the publication of
results

1. The Electoral Act should be amended to provide more detailed provisions for voting, counting and
collation procedures. These should include:

(i) a requirement for results to be publicly displayed at polling stations immediately after
counting has been completed;

(ii) a requirement for copies of official result forms to be distributed to all involved
stakeholders. including political parties, candidates and observers.

(iii) a requirement for detailed results broken down to polling station level to be publicly
displayed at all superior levels of the election administration;

(iv) a requirement for INEC to swiftly publicly display, including on its website, detailed results
of the elections, including all polling station results as well as collated information on the
number of voters, votes cast, invalid votes etc.

(v) a requirement for results to be officially announced within a time limit of three days;

(vi) a requirement for voters, political parties and observers to be able to request a recount of
ballots at polling station level when irregularities have been identified;

(vii) a requirement for INEC to be able to order a recount of ballots at polling station level if it is
established that the law was violated; and

(viii) provision of clear grounds and authority to INEC to annul election results.

— materials deleted

To read the full report, visit:

http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/human_rights/eu_election_ass_observ/nigeria/report_final_annex_23-08-07_en.pdf

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