International observers who observed the Bayelsa and Kogi elections on Saturday have expressed concerns about the conduct and conditions under which the elections held.
The observers in a joint statement issued under the auspices of the Diplomatic Watch raised alarm over the reports of widespread incidents of violence and intimidation, some of which were witnessed by the teams in Kogi.
The Diplomatic Watch comprises of observers from Austria, the European Union Delegation, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
As long-standing friends of the country, the Diplomatic Watch has been present at every major election in Nigeria since 1999. As such, these countries according to the regular practice during the election had deployed teams to monitor the governorship election in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
According to the press statement tweeted on the UK twitter handle, @UKinNigeria and the EU handle @ EU in Nigeria on Sunday, the Diplomatic Watch decried the level of violence perpetrated by thugs in both states, the evidence of vote-buying by some politicians, the killings in some of the polling units, and credible report of ballot box snatching in both Bayelsa and Kogi states.
Local observer groups had also reported that that the elections in both states were marred by a high level of violence; vote-buying, intimidation, gunshot, and ballot box snatching.
This, the Diplomatic Watch also observed, and stated in their report. They said there were reports of fatalities and people missing, including INEC staff.
“Our thoughts are with all victims and their families. We encourage all stakeholders, in particular, political leaders, to call for calm and we encourage security agencies to investigate thoroughly and bring perpetrators to justice,” they said.
The Diplomatic Watch, however, commended the commitment and resilience of voters in both states who came out to exercise their democratic rights.
While expressing their sympathy for those affected by the violence, including ordinary voters, INEC officials, members of the NYSC, civil society, and the media, they called on the government to provide a fair and safe playing ground where all Nigerians should be able to carry out their fundamental role.
They said the democratic process should be free from intimidation and harassment.
They added that they remain committed to working impartially with Nigerian authorities, INEC in particular, as well as civil society to consolidate and deepen democracy.