Chairman of the Independent National Election Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has said that accredited election observers are not permitted to grant media interviews.
He also directed that, at the polling units, no security personnel is allowed to hinder accredited observers from observing the election process.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Yakubu stated this at a National briefing for Accredited Observers (Domestic and Foreign) for the 2019 general election held on Tuesday in Abuja.
Also speaking, the Acting Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, advised members of the observer groups to always wear their accredited tags.
“We shall identify you with your tags. If you wear your tag, you are free to move about; but without your tag, don’t come out to say you are observing. We will observe you,’’ Adamu warned.
INEC National Commissioner, Prof. Antonia Okoosi-Simbine, who is the Chairperson, Election and Party Monitoring Committee, said as at Tuesday, the Commission had accredited 119 domestic and 35 foreign observer groups.
Okoosi-Simbine said the Commission anticipated that it might get a few late additional requests, which could be made through its state offices and security agencies.
She advised observer groups to comply with INEC regulations and guidelines, and to submit their reports after the election.
“We will like you to collate and interpret the facts gathered against the legal and institutional framework and basic democratic standards to determine if the election meets the threshold of credibility as defined by law and accepted by international community,” Okoosi-Simbine said.
The Country Director, International Federation for Election Support, Mr. Rushdi Nackerdien, said election observation had become ethical part of election and had contributed immensely to the growth of democracy around the world.
“It detects frauds, irregularities and also gives report to improve subsequent elections,’’ he noted.
Commending observers for their willingess to observe the election, Nackerdien advised them to remember to adhere to the code of conduct, the guidelines as provided by INEC and also to ensure that they carry out their work professionally.
The Project Coordinator, European Centre for Electoral Support, Mr. Rudolf Elbling, said election observer has become integral part of electoral process and expressed hope that the presence of observer groups would increase the confidence in the election.
“It will be useful to improve the quality of Nigerian election and its democracy,’’ Elbling said.
Speaking on behalf of foreign observers, Head of the Commonwealth Observer Group/former Tanzanian President, Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, pledged that the observation would be interactive.
“I promise you that we will do our work diligently with integrity. We will come up with report that are independent in the way we have seen Nigeria conduct its elections.’’
While wishing Nigeria free, fair and credible elections, Kikwete said that at the end of the exercise, the foreign observers would present their report to INEC and share it with members of the Commonwealth countries.
Speaking on behalf of the Civil Society Organisations, Mr. Clement Nwankwo, who is the convener of Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, said the CSOs would observe the forthcoming election diligently.