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75 parties, 60 presidential candidates counter Situation Room, say INEC ‘performed well’ in 2019 elections

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Mahmood Yakubu

The National Interest Group has said that the report by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (NCSSR) on the 2019 general election is not a true reflection of the realities of the election.

NCSSR, which was one of the accredited election monitors, had said the last polls in Nigeria failed to meet the “threshold for free, fair and credible elections.”

The group stated, among other things, that there were discrepancies in the number of accredited voters and the total number of votes cast.

However, the National Interest Group criticised the NCSSR for condemning the manner in which the Independent National Electoral Commission conducted the 2019 general election.

The National Interest Group, which is made up of chairmen of 75 political parties, members of Forum of 60 Presidential Candidates and members of the National Youth Council among others, made their position known at a press conference on Wednesday in Abuja.

Its joint convener, Yusuf Dantalle, said security agencies, rather than INEC, were largely responsible for the lapses experienced during the election.

He argued that members of the NCSSR did not witness what happened in the 120, 000 polling units in the country during the election.

READ ALSO: Situation Room delivers damning report on 2019 polls, says election not free, fair & credible

While rejecting the report, he said the electoral body performed well within the limited legal framework available.

He said, “We hereby express our disagreement with some aspects of the report issued by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room which did not match the reality on the ground.

“It was clear to many citizens and observers that security agencies, including the Army and Police, were largely responsible for the lapses experienced during the election.

“Particularly, the last-minute postponement of the election on February 16, 2019, was in the best interest of the country as it was a difficult, yet very necessary move to save the country from monumental national electoral crisis.

“The report of the Situation Room is clearly not a reflection of the realities of the 2019 election as their observers only rode in air-conditioned cars to a few polling units in the city centres while others were in cozy hotel rooms watching television. They did not witness what happened in the 120, 000 polling units in the country.

“As key stakeholders, we reject the report and state our position that INEC, under Prof Mahmood Yakubu, performed well within the limited legal framework available and stakeholders must fashion a way to secure the electoral process starting with the area of security instead of pursuing self-serving agenda or attacking INEC for flaws that were caused mainly by the greed and desperation of the political parties and their candidates.”

Dantalle reiterated the group’s earlier vote of confidence in the electoral commission.

He asked members of the National Assembly, on resumption from their recess, to take the Electoral Act amendment as a priority and transmit same to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent.

He added, “We condemn the commercial attack on the INEC Chairman and urge those who have approached the tribunal to concentrate on the cases and forget this politics of dry fish which has the larger plan of destabilising the entire country and its electoral processes.

“We urge all Nigerians to remain peaceful and law-abiding and go about their lawful duties as we believe that the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal is well equipped to determine finally what is lawful and bring all these matters to an end.”

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