The Election Working Group, EPG, of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has said it would deploy about 36 observers in Ekiti State to observe Saturday, 21st June, 2014, governorship election in the state.
The group also urged the people of Ekiti State to troop out to vote for their preferred candidates just as it asked politicians to shun violence.
This is contained in a statement jointly signed by the Chairman and Alternate Chairman of the EWG, Dafe Akpedeye and Reuben James, on Friday, 20th June, 2014, in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital.
EWG is one of the 29 domestic and international observers accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to observe Saturday’s election.
Stating that it had successfully observed past elections, including last November’s governorship election in Anambra state, the group said it would observe the election with all the local branches of the NBA in Ekiti State. It said the observers had been adequately trained for the purpose.
“The NBA Election Working Group will be engaging all the local branches of the NBA in Ekiti State to observe the elections,” EWG said.
“In all, the NBA will deploy a total of 36 observers in the 16 local government areas of Ekiti State to observe the governorship election on Saturday June 21, 2014,” the group said.
The group regretted that the ugly side of Ekiti politics had dominated discourse in recent times, stating that that there had been on-going campaigns of calumny among parties and candidates, bickering, mud-slinging and character assassination as opposed to issue-based campaigns is the order of the day.
It noted that following criticisms, some of the leaders and candidates of the 18 political parties taking part in the June 21 election had assured that they would ensure the election was peaceful and orderly.
“To assure Ekitis of this, the parties should match their vows with action. Mud-slinging and character assassination is certainly not the path to credible and rancour-free election,” the EWG said.
“Ekitis must get up and be counted. The good people of the state who undoubtedly are in the majority must rise up and say no to the minority few that gives Ekiti State a bad name,” it said.
EWG regretted that over the years, Nigerian elections had been fraught with lack of transparency associated with the use of violence, thuggery, hijacking and illegal seizures of ballot boxes, inflation of election results at collation centers, voting by unregistered persons, refusal to conduct elections at certified polling stations and the creation of illegal polling stations at unrecognized venues.
“The method of rigging election is inexhaustible for no sooner had the legislature plugged existing loopholes in new legislation than election riggers would have invented new means of circumventing the new laws,” it said.
The group explained that it was the importance the NBA attached to electoral reforms that prompted its birth to among other things work with the 100 branches of the NBA to set up Voters Registration Complaint Centers to provide detailed reports on the exercise; observe and collate reports on the progress of voters registration exercise from the 100 branches of the Association; and monitor elections and submit reports of each exercise to its president.
EWG also said it partners with civil society organizations and others in respect of electoral reforms and activities; develop programmes in areas of elections, electoral reforms and voter education; and ensure that cases of electoral offences are prosecuted.