June 12: Group says free,fair credible elections, critical to enduring Democracy

The South East Social Accountability Network (SESAN),a political pressure group, has said that a free, fair and credible elections is critical to enthroning an enduring democracy.
This was part of resolutions reached by SESAN at a roundtable in collaboration with South East Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)to mark Democracy Day while evaluating how democracy had flourished or otherwise in South East.
According to a statement signed by Ms Nnaemeka Onyjiuwa, on Friday in Abuja, the roundtable had the topic: How Judiciary, INEC and CSOs have contributed to the development or otherwise of representative democracy in South East Nigeria.
It also focused on matters arising on the development and challenges of the South East since 2019.
According to the statement, the CSOs said they are particular with election judgments because it gives the beneficiaries access to public funds.
They also said that the occupants of the seat of governor in states, had the power of life and death and should not be played with.
SESAN noted that it had become almost impossible to conduct free and fair elections in the South East zone or see citizens happy became of high rate of election related violence and other misdemeanors in the region.
“According to different researches, South East is ranked among the zone where it is almost impossible to conduct free, fair and credible elections, thus classifying it as a zone with high risk of election infractions.
“Yet these infractions have never led to the applaudable nullification of elections or judgments that reflects what the citizens and CSOs observed.
“In the face of these challenges, politicians are mocked or advised to go to court.
“But too worrisome is the fact that the election tribunal judgments appear as indictment on the series of election observation reports by CSOs and other International Observers,” SESAN said.
It noted that these identified challenges had gradually made the South East to be one of the lowest voting zones during each general election in the country.
It added that this had seriously affected democracy in the zone and the country generally.
The group attributed the degrading development and general insecurity in the zone to the inability to conduct free and fair elections in mostly three states of the South East.
It advised that going forward, INEC and the judiciary most be up and doing and should look into all cases of election malpractices, including over voting.
It said agreement had been reached to form a coalition to continue to monitor the judiciary  and the remaining elections cases in the South East.
This, it said, was particularly with regards to Imo and Enugu States where a state constituency election was yet to be completed.
It called on the National Judicial Council (NJC) and higher courts to scrutinise what transpired and ensure that the remaining ongoing Imo governorship election case received objective conclusions.
This, it said, would help to improve the trust of citizens on election process.(https://newsatlarge.ng)

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