Nigeria’s 2023 election eroded voters’ trust: EU observers

The February presidential vote was marked by the lowest voter turnout since the end of military rule in Nigeria in 1999.

NIGERIA-POLITICS
A voter casts her ballot at a polling station for gubernatorial and House of Assembly candidates during local elections, in Lagos [File: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP]

Nigeria’s elections early this year were marred by problems that reduced public trust in electoral processes and reforms to enhance transparency and accountability are needed, European Union observers said in a final report seen by Reuters news agency on Wednesday.

President Bola Tinubu won the disputed February election, with 37 percent of the vote. The result is being challenged in court by his two main rivals, the People’s Democratic Party’s Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi of the Labour Party.

There were multiple reports of voter intimidation by supporters of the ruling All Progressives Congress and results were barely uploaded on a new electronic portal introduced to improve transparency, in real-time.

The EU mission said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should improve in six priority areas, including removing ambiguities in electoral law, ensuring the real-time publication of and access to election results and clamping down on electoral offences.

“Shortcomings in law and electoral administration hindered the conduct of well-run and inclusive elections and damaged trust in INEC,” said the report.

“A lack of transparency and operational failures reduced trust in the process and challenged the right to vote.”

The February presidential vote was marked by the lowest voter turnout since the end of military rule in 1999.

An INEC spokesman told local TV that the EU mission report was “unfair”, adding that INEC’s failure to upload presidential election results on time was caused by a glitch in its system.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies