The Chief Observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Nigeria 2023, Mr Barry Andrews, Member of the European Parliament, has officially launched the mission in the country.
Mr Andrews at the official launch of the observation mission in Abuja, the country’s capital, urged stakeholders to ensure that the elections are peaceful, free and fair.
According to him, all observers are guided by a code of conduct, which requires strict impartiality and non-interference in the election.
It would be recalled that on Monday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo received the delegation of the European Union Election Observation Mission led by Mr Barry Andrews.
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Mr Andrews said about one hundred observers had been deployed to follow the electoral process in all the 36 states of the federation including the federal capital territory.
“This is the seventh EU Election Observation Mission to Nigeria since 1999. The EU attaches great significance to these elections.”
The EU EOM Chief Observer urged authorities, candidates and political parties in Nigeria to ensure that the upcoming general election is peaceful and further election-related violence is prevented.
“Every voter has the right to cast their ballot in a safe environment free from intimidation and undue influence. “We encourage the authorities, candidates, and political parties to commit to peaceful conduct prior to, during and after Election Day. Cooperation between all institutions and parties participating in the elections is crucial. The presence of a level playing field, freedom of expression, assembly and association, respect for human rights and a neutral and independent election management body at all levels are all essential for democratic elections.”
The EU Chief Observer said the mission would also study the new electoral law and interact with the stakeholders on the challenges ahead.
He said the 2022 electoral act which introduced new measures aimed at enhancing various aspect of the conduct would be closely followed to monitor its implementation.
The Chief observer explained that the mission had met with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC on the EU observation; Nigeria was prepared for the 2023 election
He said they have also met with media representatives and took their concern and challenges seriously.
The European Union Election Observation Mission is expected to present its preliminary reports two days after the elections.
During his four-day visit to Nigeria, the Chief Observer has met with a wide range of interlocutors including state authorities, the Independent National Electoral Commission, political contestants, members of the judiciary, media stakeholders, citizen observers as well as other civil society representatives to discuss the ongoing electoral process.
The EU has deployed the EU EOM following an invitation from the Independent National Electoral Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In total, the mission will comprise around one hundred observers from twenty-five EU Member States.
All mission members are bound by a code of conduct, which requires strict impartiality and non-interference in the elections.
The EU EOM undertakes its work in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation as commemorated at the United Nations.
The EU EOM operates under a separate and distinct mandate from the EU Delegation in Nigeria, and it is independent in its findings from EU Member States and all EU institutions.
The EU EOM will be in the country till the end of March 2023.