The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, an elections observer group, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide clarification on why over one million votes were cancelled in the presidential and national assembly elections.
Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, on Tuesday declared President Muhammadu Buhari winner of Saturday’s presidential election with 15,191,847 votes.
However, in its fourth interim statement which assessed the credibility and fairness of the electoral process, the Situation Room said: “There is a lack of clarity in the rationale for cancellation of polls. We have recorded 1,084,358 cancelled votes across 1175 polling units in 18 States. The pattern of this cancellation requires some close interrogation to show fairness and objectivity.”
It was reported that over-voting, card reader malfunction and violence are reasons provided for the cancelled votes.
“Situation Room demands that INEC provide clarification on rationale and compliance with its guidelines regarding cancellation of polls,” it said.
The organisation, which comprise of over 70 CSOs working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria, rated the February 23 election as worse than 2015 owing to the violence and other logistical problems.
“A careful look at some of the figures of accredited voters and the total number of votes show discrepancies. As at 6:47pm Tuesday 26th February, the discrepancy was a total of 513,214, in 27 states including Nasarawa, Kogi, Adamawa, Edo States and the FCT. Situation Room calls on INEC to transparently address this confusion before the completion of result tabulation,” the statement further read.
“Situation Room calls on INEC to address the discrepancies in the vote tally and provide cogent explanations for the rejected votes and clearly clarify what amounts to cancelled votes.
“Our observers were denied access to 10 Ward Collation Centres in Abia State, 7 in Lagos State and 5 in Akwa Ibom and Ogun States respectively. Other reports received indicate that there was no collation in some Wards; rather, polling unit results were directly collated at Local Government level, raising questions about violation of the collation process.”
In 2015, 844, 519 were rejected out of the 29,432,083 votes cast.