By Oloniruha Emmanuel
#TrackNigeria: The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that measures were put in place to ensure that Observer Groups accredited for the 2019 general elections were apolitical.
INEC National Commissioner, Prof. Antonia Okoosi-Simbine, who is the Chairperson, Election and Party Monitoring Committee, disclosed this in an interview on Wednesday in Abuja.
Okoosi-Simbine said that considering the importance of elections, the commission carried out in house due diligence to ensure that accredited observers were genuine and not those infiltrated by political parties or politicians.
She said one of the measures employed by the commission in accrediting observers was to relate with groups that had experience or well known for having worked with INEC.
“Another criteria is that such group must be registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). A lot of the groups that are working for politicians or political parties are not usually registered with the CAC,’’ she said.
Okoosi-Simbine said though some partisan groups always try to apply for accreditation but with due diligence by the commission, such groups were denied accreditation.
She said that even after accreditation, INEC could withdraw the accreditation of any group considered inimical to the electoral process,.
Okoosi-Simbine said that observers had helped the commission to improve the electoral process through their reports.
She cited the adoption of simultaneous accreditation and voting system as one of the recommendations by observer groups after the 2015 general elections.
“We considered that as a very important suggestion because we noted that approximately two million people accredited during the 2015 general elections did not return to vote, ‘’ she said.
Asked if INEC was paying observer groups, Okoosi-Simbine said that the commission was not funding any group to observe Nigeria elections, saying they were expected to source their funds.
“The commission absolutely pays nothing. It does not keep accommodation; it does not give transport to observer groups.
“However, the process of observation cost the commission money. In the sense that the commission has to pay for venue, tea and coffee break, it has to provide the kits that are provided for observers.
“The commission has to produce it so that everybody is dressed in a uniform manner and the polling officers can easily identify them as they come to the polling units.
“So the commission actually spends money on these processes,’’ she said.
She advised accredited observer groups to stick to approved guidelines by the commission in carrying out their duties.
Okoosi-Simbine reminded them that they were not to monitor but observe elections and advised them to report any anomaly to the commission. (NAN)