2023 Election: Commonwealth observers say election ‘largely peaceful’

The Chairperson of the Commonwealth Observer Group and former President of South Africa, His Excellency Thabo Mbeki, has urged aggrieved political candidates to seek legal redress.

He said this in Abuja, on Monday, when he presented the Commonwealth Observation group preliminary report.

The Commonwealth observers were in the Federal Capital Territory, Benue, Edo, Kano, Lagos, Ondo, Rivers and Sokoto states to observe the presidential and National Assembly election.

They observed the accreditation, voting, counting and results aggregation.

Mbeki encouraged citizens to exercise patience and allow the Independent National Electoral Commission to conclude the results process peacefully.

Mbeki noted, “We call on all those with grievances to address disputes through prescribed legal channels.

“The time now is for restraint and continued patience as we await the final results.”

Speaking further, he said the election was largely peaceful, despite administrative and logistical hurdles at many polling units.

He also commended the commitment and patience by registered voters.

The former South Africa president said, “We congratulate all Nigerians for their determination, patience and resilience displayed throughout the electoral process.”

He also noted an improvement with the enactment of the new Electoral Act in 2022, which gave the electoral commission more autonomy, legal backing for the use of electronic accreditation of voters and frameworks for the inclusion of people with disabilities in the elections, among other things.

The Commonwealth Observer Group was constituted by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt. Hon Patricia Scotland KC, at the invitation of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission.

Before leaving Nigeria on March 2, the group will complete its final report, setting out its recommendations, which will be submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General at a later stage.

Meanwhile, the African Union and Economic Community of West African States Observation Missions, on Monday, urged INEC to quickly upload election results on its portal.

They said the quick uploading of results would ensure credible conclusions of the electoral process.

The Leader of the AU delegation, former President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Former President Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone and leader of the ECOWAS delegation, gave briefing on the preliminary report of the elections on Monday.

Koroma said the AU and EU Observation Missions was urging INEC to improve on its communication to avoid any form of speculations, disinformation and fake news.

The leader of the ECOWAS delegation said it was in Nigeria alongside the AU Mission on a diplomacy engagement to ensure a peaceful transition.

He noted “All we can do at this stage as we have done in the preliminary report is urge INEC to where possible improve on communication with the public and member of political parties.

“Improve on the counting and collation methods and review the uploading, because these were all systems that INEC promised to rule out without any difficulties.