Political parties and candidates that were aggrieved over the conduct of the last elections have been advised to seek legal redress rather than confrontation or violence. This was the position of Rt Revd Dr Peter Adebiyi, Bishop of Lagos West Diocese of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).
He said the Nigerian judiciary has proved to be reliable in the last six months and so, candidates who wanted to challenge the outcome of the elections should present their cases to the various election tribunals established for the purpose.
Although the cleric commended Nigerians as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for achieving a transition from one civilian government to another, he called on INEC to be more prepared in future elections, by conducting a more credible and more acceptable polls. He also advised that the observations and recommendations made by the various observer groups, should be taken seriously.
Speaking during the presentation of the report of the 2007 Elections Sensitisation and Observation Committee, the monitoring group of the diocese, held at Archbishop Vining Memorial Cathedral in Ikeja yesterday, Adebiyi, flayed INEC over some of the lapses that were noticed during the election period, which he said could be prevented.
Some of the identified lapses, according to him, included late arrival of INEC officials at many polling station due to poor transportation arrangements, some polling centres had no INEC official hence voters could not vote, many INEC Officials had to depend on the good will of some observers to convey election materials without adequate security, poor training and rehearsals with INEC official prior to the election as many of them could not locate their station on time, late delivery of elections materials to some polling centres.
He continued: ‘Long advertised polling booths were not in sight nor made available for use, polling centres sometimes crowded in the same location which did not allow expected secrecy in balloting, lack of standard arrangement for voters names on registers which led to unnecessary delays in identification of valid voters, not inclusion of the pictures of some candidates and party logos on the ballot paper, breakdown of communication between INEC Abuja and the State Electoral Commission before, during and after the elections and others.
But despite the observed lapses Bishop Adebiyi adjudged the conduct of the elections as being relatively peaceful.
Said he, ‘Despite the observed lapses the general level of security provided for the election was high and the breach of the peace was greatly minimised. There was generally prompt response by INEC to some reports from observers on the field and the unrestricted areas INEC gave to both the domestic and international observers it accredited to carry out their assignments while actual and immediate counting of votes at polling centres as well as the distribution of results sheets to party agents and observers present assisted the integrity of the polls up and to that stage’.
He however enjoined INEC to take into consideration for future elections by addressing the observed lapses and improve on them
According to him, ‘Voters Register must be displayed several days before elections, elections materials must arrive on time for polls, official must endeavour to arrive at polling station before the voters while adequate security should be provided at polling stations.
Article from: The Church of Nigeria - by Dickson Adeyanju and Seye Olumide
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