A Coalition of Civil Society groups have blamed the activities of some "desperate" politicians and massive deployment of security operatives for the lapses witnessed during the 2019 general election.
In a reports which was unveiled on Monday, April 29, 2019, the CSOs faulted attempts by politicians to put the blame of the hitches witnessed during the elections solely on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The report which gave a detailed summary of the 2019 elections by the CSOs, led by the Centre for Transparent Advocacy (CTA), claimed there was an "institutional conspiracy" by political class and state actors to "sabotage" INEC’s preparations and processes.
It identified vote buying, violent attacks on perceived opponents, intimidation and abduction of INEC officials, snatching and destruction of ballot boxes and papers to burning up of INEC offices and electoral as some of the ways the political class ruined the election.
"The politicians, their agents and thugs constituted the greatest menace in the conduct of the 2019 general elections. From brazen acts of vote buying, violent attacks on perceived opponents, intimidation and abduction of INEC officials, snatching and destruction of ballot boxes and papers to burning up of INEC offices and electoral materials in Plateau, Anambra, AkwaIbom, Imo, Benue and Abia states, the political parties and politicians showed their desperation for power," it said.
"The resultant losses of lives and property in such places as Lagos, Rivers, Kogi, Plateau and so on and the widespread violence that attended these were recorded by our observers as perpetrated by politicians and their political thugs.
"The recruitment of thugs by the political class from one part of the country to another before the elections evidenced by the arrest of young men travelling enmass at Uyo was as never seen in the history of our elections.
"The violence that followed the elections was as a result of the hate speeches by the political class at campaigns and the conduct some of the party primaries ended in violence. Most political party agents seen on the field did not have proper identification tags from INEC, the parties printed their own tags for their agents. It has become a recurrent problem of the political parties not following the guidelines for party agents accreditation".
The report noted there was little the INEC could do since it lacks control over the security apparatus and other relevant stakeholders in the electoral process.
On the role of security during elections, the report stated that in most places, the security personnel deployed for the election turned a blind eye to breaches by overzealous party agents and their thugs.
It states that in both elections, the number of security agents deployed per polling unit were inadequate and their response to incidences that occurred in their polling units were grossly inefficient.
In her address during the unveiling, CTA acting executive director, Faith Nwadishi, commended some INEC staff from their courage during the elections.
"The brazen manner the security services were used to intimidate INEC officials in their offices and on the field was terrible," she said. "Yet, INEC officials nationwide refused to be intimidated by threats and violence unleashed on its officials and ad-hoc staff. Indeed, INEC’s brave conduct may have saved our nation from conflagration because it was obvious that elements of the political class, including elements of the ruling class, were bent on mayhem if they didn’t get their way."
Atiku and the stolen mandate
Meanwhile, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, believes his mandate was stolen in the poll that produced Muhammadu Buhari as president-elect.
Atiku, a former Vice President, has assembled a team of lawyers and witnesses to help reclaim his stolen mandate at the election petition tribunal.