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On January 12 2023, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, OON, SAN constituted the NBA Election Working Group (NBA-EWG), chaired by Mrs. Linda Rose Bala, the 1st Vice President of the NBA. The NBA-EWG eventually deployed over 1000 INEC accredited observers drawn from the 128 Branches of the NBA. These lawyers-observers observed the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections which held on 25th February, 2023 and which continued in some parts of the country until 26th February, 2023. The NBA-EWG’s observation of the electoral process continued until the final collations and declarations of the results. The NBA President, Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN was also physically present to lead the observations of the elections in FCT, Abuja.
Aside the toll-free lines and NBA social media handles, the NBA-EWG for the first time utilized online forms and analytics tools to collect real-time data from the field during the elections process. This application can identify the geo-location of the observer. With this, reports received in pictorial or video forms were verifiable and confirmed using the app’s features. The form and questions that were filled out by NBA observers can be found in the link here: https://zfrmz.com/pDugaWou61B4YLczjP7d. Also, the NBA President set up the NBA 2023 Election Situation Room at the NBA Headquarters to receive and harmonise reports of the NBA Election Observers from across the country on the conduct of the 2023 General Elections.
In the main, the NBA Observers expressed some satisfaction with the conduct of the election on 25th February, 2023 but have also identified major challenges that should be addressed for future elections. These include the late arrival of INEC officials and ballot materials at the polling stations, malfunctioning BVAS machines, limited or non-transmission of the results from the polling units to the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV), insecurity at some polling units including violent attacks on voters and officials, voter intimidation, snatching and destruction of voting materials, significant cases of vote-buying and limited access facilities for persons living with disabilities. All the comments from the NBA Observers can be viewed here: https://forms.zohopublic.com/nigerianbarassociation/report/CommentsAll/reportperma/MzJaiY21vpgQF4WxSlIt9cy9u_j7IvuQkGkQp5Bp1V0.
Generally, findings from the observation process “indicated that only a quarter of the electorate were excellently impressed with the conduct of the ballots (27.1%) while majority of the voters (64.6%) were somewhat satisfied, only 8.2% rated the election poor or very poor.” The dashboard with full reports can be accessed here: https://analytics.zoho.com/open-view/2668635000000169824.
Stemming from these observations and in view of the impending Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections fixed for 11th March, 2023, the NBA urges INEC to ensure that all bugs or glitches in the BVAS machines and other election technology are fixed and improved and that INEC staff (including collation and returning officers) with proven cases of misconduct in the 25th February, 2023 election be excluded from the 11th March, 2023 election. The Inspector General of Police is also urged to ensure the timely deployment of police officers on duty for the 11th March 2023 Elections. Political parties are equally advised to educate their members and supporters on the need to eschew all forms of actions in violation of the Electoral Act.
In conclusion, the NBA commends Nigerians for their resilience and perseverance in carrying out their civic duties during the Presidential and National Assembly elections and encourages citizens to show same values and resolve in the forthcoming Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections.
Akorede Habeeb Lawal
National Publicity Secretary, NBA
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