‘We’ll Ensure The Elections Are Closely Supervised And Monitored’
THE Chairman Board of Trustees (BoT) of Orient Foundation for Social Justice and Civic Education, Chris Okoye, has said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has accredited the Foundation to observe the general elections.
The Foundation, he explained, is going to ensure that the elections are under close community supervision and monitoring.
Speaking in an interview with The Guardian after receiving the letter of accreditation from INEC, Okoye said the accreditation would help to check the abuses that had hitherto marred the conduct of credible elections in Nigeria, especially in the Southeast.
“Some of these abuses include violent disruption of voting at the polling booths, stuffing and switching of ballot boxes, forging of result sheets, ‘partisanship acts’ on the part of electoral staff and security operatives, outright declaration of bogus results, etc.
“These abuses cannot continue to be left unchecked and we believe they can be checked with concerted efforts by concerned civil society organisations.”
Accordingly, he stated, Orient Foundation is delighted to be one of the key observers selected to monitor the polls, especially the Southeast.
“As Orient Foundation had successfully and diligently done in the past, we plan to ensure that INEC and other official agencies involved in the elections comply step-by-step with every requirement of the law,” he said.
Okoye added that the Foundation would monitor and document its observations in every polling booth and collation centre.
“We also plan to make sure that the materials to be available from our observation would make it possible for the entire process to be subjected to legal and media scrutiny.”
With the assurances by INEC, he said, that results would be announced at every polling booth, “we intend to post on our official website the results immediately they are released at the polling booths.
“We believe this would help to check the announcement of bogus results at collation centres.”
The Foundation, which started as Anambra State Free and Fair Election Committee, under the umbrella of Anambra State Elders Council, is now a registered Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) focused on voter education and election monitoring, programmes and documentation.
It had carried out the monitoring and observation of the 2010, 2011 and 2013 elections.
INEC Secretary, Mrs. Agusta Ogakwu, urged the Foundation to participate at all briefings in connection with the forthcoming elections.
It stated: “As an accredited observer, you are allowed to observe all the processes of the election, in line with the provisions contained in the guidelines for election observations.
“The commission reserves the right to withdraw your accreditation at any stage of the election process if your group violates the code of conduct for observers, as contained in the guidelines for election observation.”
Other members of the BoT are Prof Ben Obumselu (Vice Chairman); Rev. Christian O. Efobi; Rev. P.C. Ezeokafor; Justice Godwin Ononiba (rtd); Prof Ben Osisioma; and Chief Luke Onyekonwu.