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Iwu, Mark condemn EU’s report on April poll

Posted by By Musikilu Mojeed and Oluwole Josiah on 2007/08/23 | Views: 384 |

Iwu, Mark condemn EU’s report on April poll


The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Maurice Iwu, and the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, on Wednesday condemned a European Union report on the April general election.

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Maurice Iwu, and the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, on Wednesday condemned a European Union report on the April general election.

Speaking during the presentation of the report to them by the EU Chief of Observer Mission, Mr. Max Van de Berg, Iwu and Mark said only Nigerians could confer legitimacy on the poll.

The report, which might be made public on Thursday in Abuja, was presented separately to the two personalities.

Before handing over the document to Iwu, Van de Berg said, “The EU Observer Mission monitored the elections on the invitation of the Nigerian government.

“The Observer Mission used the ECOWAS standard, which Nigeria subscribed to, for the monitoring of the elections.

“We used it as a standard bearer. Nigeria deserves democracy. It is up to you to develop it. Our advice to you as contained in this report is our contribution to your process.

“It is not our role to prescribe what is to be done. The report is a critical and technical recommendation.”

The EU official had hardly finished his comment when Iwu cut him short.

Iwu said that Nigeria as a sovereign nation did not need any election monitor to tell it what to do.

He accused the EU team of demonstrating insensitivity to the socio-cultural background of Nigeria.

The INEC boss said, “We were totally shocked that the tenets of international standards of election monitoring were not followed. For example, it was totally inappropriate for the EU to issue a mid-session report when elections were still going on.

“It was also inappropriate for the EU to usurp the role of Nigerians in determining the legitimacy of the elections and all such things that are likely to disturb the peace of Nigeria.

“I don‘t think it was appropriate. I am not a diplomat. I am just a person doing a job.

“I have also followed the international code of conduct for election observers, and from A-Z, your mission violated nearly all.

“I don‘t think that was appropriate. I want to explain that if you don‘t take an event within context, you may likely miss the surrounding issues.”

Iwu also faulted the EU for demanding the data base of Nigerians, which contained the fingerprints of registered voters.

He said that he refused to grant the request based on national interest.

“Because we did not grant the request, it was seen as if we had something to hide. The love of my country came before any other consideration,” Iwu fumed.

He also argued that the EU failed to appreciate the difficulty that INEC faced in getting the name of the Action Congress presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on the ballot, after a Supreme Court directive.

The INEC boss explained that there was a clear distinction between election monitoring and observation.

“All we wanted were friends to observe our elections and find out where we could improve and where we needed to do better,” he said.

Van den Berg had, while presenting the report to Mark, also said it was part of the body’s contribution towards improving the conduct of elections in Nigeria and the world.

Stating that no nation was under compulsion to adopt any of EU recommendations, he said it (recommendation) would help in the sustenance of democracy and good governance in Nigeria.

But in his remark, Mark, said that only Nigerians could decide the true state of the elections.

He said in spite of the criticisms from some quarters, nobody could do anything to destabilise Nigeria.

Mark said, “Your criticisms, comments and suggestions are welcome, but the final decision lies with Nigerians.

“Nobody can claim to love Nigeria more than Nigerians themselves. I know nobody will do anything to destabilise Nigeria.”

Apparently alluding to EU’s earlier criticisms, Mark advised the observers to be guided by the principles of fairness, objectivity and constructive criticisms.

He said the Nigerian situation was largely misunderstood by a section of the international community.

The President of the Senate noted that each country‘s democracy reflected the peculiarity of its people’s culture and tradition.

He said, “What is paramount is that the electorate have the freedom to vote for any candidate of their choice, without fear of molestation.”

He assured the visitors that despite the problems of democratisation in the country, the current administration had resolved to guarantee stability, unity and good governance.

He said that President Umaru Yar‘Adua‘s call for a government of national unity was not because he viewed the poll as faulty.

Mark said that the pitfalls in the electoral process for an emerging democracy could not be ruled out.

He added that it was in recognition of the need for perfection that the Federal Government initiated moves for electoral reforms.

He assured the EU officials that grey areas in the electoral process or the Electoral Act 2006 would be looked into during the electoral reforms.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.