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Why EU polls observers shunned North East



THE European Union (EU) Election Observation Mission (EOM) Tuesday explained its strict decision not to enter the North East of Nigeria for election monitoring. 

   According to the Chief Observer, Santiago Fisas Ayxela, who addressed a press conference in Abuja, the Mission is on a long term observation exercise and it will be grossly unsafe for the members to be kept in the troubled region for a long time.

   According to Ayxela, it is the first time the EU EOM is undergoing such a long election observation mission in any country, spanning a period of almost six months from November 2014 to April 2015, and it will be unsafe to keep the members in such a region with security challenge.

   He explained that the EU observation team is determined to stay in Nigeria to observe the election process right from the primaries held in November, through to the election day; and the activities that will accompany the announcement of election results. 

   “The most important thing is not just to be present on election day. The important thing is to be there to observe what happens on a long term basis. That is why it is not safe to deploy our mission to the North East to stay for such a long time,” he said, adding that the observation team is in Nigeria to follow up all the process. 

   While the team is committed to non-interference in the election process, the chief observer said that the Mission would watch out for how the law courts will handle issues of the election petitions after announcement of election results. He also added that the media will be watched on how the consideration they give to each contesting party. So far, he said the media have done very well. “We think that the role of media is important and media in Nigeria have been free and we think they are reporting about the elections in the proper way.”

   Speaking on the number of observers being sent by the EU, Ayxela said with the size of Nigeria, it is difficult for 90 persons to monitor the elections. 

   “We are here with 90 people deployed in the country, with this we can have very good information on what happens during the election period. The most important thing is not only what happens on the day of election. It is the whole; the starting, since November and also what happens afterwards such as the petitions, how the justice system can handle these petitions. We are here until mid April to have the final report about the whole situation and to give some recommendations about that,” he said.

   He added; “we were invited by the Nigerian institutions. That means Nigeria believes we can help in the process. We have a big experience in election processes. 

   We have helped many countries with recommendations that can help them have better elections in the future though many of our recommendation in the past elections have not been fulfilled. Nigeria invited us and it is left for the country either to adopt our recommendations or not.”

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