He said, “On election day, observers visited 183 polling units in 20 states. Observers assess the whole electoral process against international obligations and commitments for democratic elections to which Nigeria is a signatory, as well as the laws of Nigeria.
“Overall, on Election Day, multiple incidents of thuggery and intimidation interrupted polling in various locations, primarily across the south but also in states in the central and northern areas. There were reportedly some 21 fatalities.
“In polling units in several states, violent incidents targeted voters, INEC personnel, citizen observers, and journalists.”
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The report also averred that after the polls, CSOs raised further concerns about the conduct of polling and collations, but with a clear focus on the impact of thuggery, violence, and intimidation.
Andrews recalled, that the attacks, and harassment of journalists, which occurred on 25 February, went unprosecuted.
He also noted that in several states, the abuse of incumbency gave an undue advantage to the party in power.
According to the report, “Voters in 15 out of 28 states benefited from professionally organised media debates, during which journalists questioned leading gubernatorial candidates on issues of local concern, while fact-checkers probed their responses for accuracy.
“It helped voters make a better-informed choice on Election Day even if most incumbents rebuffed media offers, showing a disregard for an inclusive political debate”.
Governorship candidates’ online communication, Andrews said, was more issue focused than that of presidential contestants.
He, however, noted that disinformation contaminated the online information space and contributed to confusing voters, with some dangerous rhetoric aiming to foment ethnic divisions.
“Positively, fact-checking initiatives continued to debunk such content and strived to preserve the integrity of the online space,” the report added.
He noted that the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) has been in Nigeria since 11 January 2023, adding, the mission includes a core team of 11 experts and 40 long-term observers deployed to 20 locations on 29 January.
The EU EOM, he recalled, issued its first preliminary statement on 27 February after the presidential and National Assembly elections.
On 18 March, the EU EOM deployed 63 observers from 25 EU member states, Canada, Norway, and Switzerland across 20 states.