Foreign observers speak on violence in Kogi, Bayelsa

Some international observers who monitored the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states have condemned the widespread violence during the polls.

In a statement on Sunday, the observers, who are from Austria, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, said some of their members witnessed  violence and intimidation.

They lamented the attempt to prevent the media, the electoral body as well as civil societies from carrying out their duties during the elections.

“We express our alarm at reports of widespread incidents of violence and intimidation, some of which were witnessed by our teams in Kogi,” the statement said.

“There are reports of fatalities and people missing, including INEC staff. Our thoughts are with all victims and their families.

“We encourage all stakeholders, in particular political leaders, to call for calm and we encourage security agencies to investigate thoroughly and bring perpetrators to justice.

“We are also concerned by evident vote buying and credible reports of ballot box snatching in both Bayelsa and Kogi. We commend the commitment and resilience of voters in both states who came out to exercise their democratic rights.

“We express our sympathy for those affected by the violence, including ordinary voters; INEC officials; members of the NYSC; civil society; and the media.

“All should be able to carry out their fundamental role in the democratic process free from intimidation and harassment. As Iong-standing friends, we have been present at every major election in Nigeria since 1999. We remain committed to working impartially with Nigerian authorities, INEC in particular, as well as civil society to consolidate and deepen democracy.”

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