The Observation department of the European Union alleged the Nigerian Soldiers of barring them from monitoring the elections in Rivers State.
This allegation was made during their preliminary report on Monday in Abuja.
Chief observer, Maria Arena, told the journalists they came to Nigeria on INEC’s invitation to monitor the elections and make recommendations
Maria however faulted the elections saying: “Observers, including EU observers, were denied access to collation centres in Rivers, apparently by military personnel. This lack of access for observers compromises transparency and trust in the process.
“In Rivers, INEC suspended until further notice the elections due to violence in polling units and collation centers, staff being taken hostage and election materials, including results sheets, seized or destroyed by unauthorized persons.
“There is no doubt that the electoral process there was severely compromised.”
Maria said the European Union deployed 73 observers following voting, counting and the collation of results in 22 states and they monitored 223 polling units in 81 collation centers.
Chief observer, Maria Arena, lamented on high rate of violence, underage voting and vote-buying in the just concluded election.
She said: “Although election operations improved, the elections were also marked by an overall low turnout and violence, including against election officials and voters.
“However, at eight polling units observed, we saw indications of vote-buying. Eight cases of obvious underage voting were also observed. Our observers saw that the counting of ballots transparent overall.
“Positively, in almost all cases, party agents received copies of the result forms, although they were often not displayed. The environment for these elections has been difficult, with cases of violence and intimidation, including attacks on election administration officials.”
Maria Arena made known that the problem in the 2019 election calls for an inclusive national discussion on reforms for greater electoral integrity and participation.
She also noted misuse of power of incumbency by the ruling parties on the state-owned media houses.
She said: “While there can be many reasons for a low turnout, and it is not for me to speculate, it is surely disappointing that overall, only a relatively small portion of what is by far and away Africa’s largest electorate actually cast a vote on both election days. We hope that after these elections, parties and institutions look at what is needed to make voters want to take part in elections.”
Deputy Chief Observer, Hannah Roberts, also criticize INEC for not providing the specific information before the cancellation of votes in the February 23rd election.
She said, “While this number did not affect the outcome given the margin of win, this was not a good process. INEC did not provide sufficient information on these cancellations, the specific reasons for them, and the precise local government areas affected. This undermines public confidence in the process.”