The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and Kano State Civil Society Elections Situation Room have frowned at some people attempting to disregard the credible civil society organisations that have been working hard over the years to ensure electoral integrity in Nigeria.
This is as the group said some faceless groups are using the media to cook up fake stories about civil society organisations calling for the cancellation of the governorship election in Kano state and other parts of the country.
The CSOs disclosed this is a statement signed by Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) Chairman, Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), and Amb. Ibrahim Waiya, Convener, Kano Civil Society Elections Situation Room.
The group who decried the fake news as fictitious and malicious, said they have the potential to further overheat the polity at a time when the political space in Nigeria is already heated up.
“TMG, like CISLAC and the Kano Civil Society Forum have done incredible work towards electoral reforms in Nigeria. Since 1998, TMG has championed the democratic path in Nigeria as the foremost election observation group with the widest membership across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
“Ahead of the 2023 general elections, TMG engaged extensively to mobilize citizens to participate actively in the electoral process, while also training and deploying independent observers across the 774 local governments in the country.
“TMG’s position as reflected in the statements it issued throughout the elections has been on the basis of first-hand observation and reports of its observers.
“In the same vein, CISLAC and the Kano Civil Society Forum have contributed their quota through stakeholders’ engagements to ensure electoral security and integrity, while also engaging to improve citizens’ participation. It is therefore unimaginable that, these groups of credible organisations would assume any form of partisan position in their actions or words as has been highlighted in these malicious reports,” the statement reads.
The CSOs, however, stated that as credible organisations duly accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to observe the 2023 general elections, they understood their roles in the process and have performed such within the ambits of INEC’s guidelines.
“For the avoidance of doubt, it must be categorically stated that as credible organisations duly accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to observe the 2023 general elections, TMG, CISLAC, and Kano Civil Society Elections Situation Room understood their roles in the process and have performed such within the ambits of INEC’s guidelines.
“As credible organisations, we have efficiently performed our observatory function, drawing up recommendations for improvement in future elections. We will never interfere with the conduct of elections or seek to interfere with the judicial processes leading up to a redress of grievances resulting from the elections.
“As a matter of fact, no genuine civil society group will side with political parties as the position of the group is expected to be apolitical.
“We regard as an act of desperation and selfishness the attempt to rope credible organisations into reports that are clearly politically motivated and sponsored, which claimed to be speaking on behalf of the INEC accredited observer groups in Kano State,” the group said.
Stating their position, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and the Kano State Civil Society Elections Situation Room said:
“We call on the public to disregard in totality these wild reports making rounds and using the names of credible organisations and called for the cancelation of the governorship election in Kano State.
“We assure the public that we have never at any time issued such statements nor been a party to such conclusions. We strongly believe in democratic approaches to settling election disputes and encourage all who are not satisfied with the process to seek redress in the court of law.
“We urge the media to filter credible civil society groups from faceless, politically sponsored groups who hide under the names of credible organisations to concoct fake stories that suit their narratives.
“We implore the media to desist from availing such unscrupulous groups of the platform to propagate their disruptive, misleading, and fake stories.
“We warn sternly against the illegal use of our names to spin narratives that are capable of further heating up the polity and creating chaos in Kano State and in Nigeria. Any further misuse of our names in this direction will be met by litigation.”
Noting that the last election was marred by violence and other forms of electoral malfeasance, the CSOs affirmed that they stand by their earlier recommendations on the part of INEC and other stakeholders to improve the elections in Nigeria.
They recommended the following:
“Strengthened collaboration with the security agencies in Nigeria is critical towards ensuring electoral security in Nigeria. As part of post-mortem activities of the 2023 general elections, INEC must begin to prioritize collaboration with security agencies to protect voters from political thugs in future elections.
“Justice must be served and seen to be served on those who perpetrated electoral violence in the 2023 elections, not just in Kano but in all the flashpoints across the country. As we call on the international community to sanction these offenders, Nigeria must be seen to take action to ensure justice.
“Very importantly also, we have seen how overburdened INEC can be and call on the incoming 10th National Assembly to prioritize legislation to establish the electoral offenders’ tribunal/commission which will take away the burden from INEC and ensure adequate and timely prosecution of electoral offenders in Nigeria.
“It is also critical for the political parties to reposition the party system with the aim of improving internal democracy in their operations. A huge part of the problems of the 2023 elections stems from the lack of internal democracy in the major political parties in Nigeria. As machinery that brings about leadership in Nigeria, political parties must ensure democratic tenets in their internal operations or may never be able to uphold democracy in Nigeria.
“We recommend that all potential elections observers should pass through Anti-Corruption Agencies screening henceforth, to ensure that only prudent and credible organizations are accredited as observers in future elections
“We recommend that all accredited observers should learn and strictly adhere to INEC guidelines on observers’ operations, to appreciate their limitations as observers, which is only to observe and make recommendations.”