The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has upbraided the security forces whose personnel were alleged to have unduly interfered with the conduct of the just held 2019 general election.
In its assessment of the conduct of the 2019 general election, NLC said while the exercise was largely peaceful in many parts of the country, there were a number of logistic and security issues that dogged it.
In a statement issued yesterday and signed by the acting President of the NLC, Mr. Amechi Asugwuni, the congress said despite the constitutional restrictions on the direct involvement of the military in an election, some military personnel went outside their duty call to cause disruption in the electoral process.
It said while the deployment of the military was helpful in preventing skirmishes from different local hotspots from degenerating into society-wide brigandage, the conduct of some soldiers deployed in some parts of the country to maintain public order left a lot to be desired.
NLC said the postponement of the initial exercise contributed to low turnout of voters during the general election.
According to the NLC, public expectation after the postponement was that INEC would put its acts together and ensure that the conduct of the elections on the postponed dates was impeccable but that unfortunately, that was hardly the case as the elections were blighted by perennial tardy logistics such as late arrival of election materials to polling units and failure of data capture machines in some polling units.
It said: “While INEC should be commended for insisting on the use of card readers for elections in every part of the country and for issuing a policy statement that no election result obtained through duress would be validated by issuance of certificate of return, it is clear that these pronouncements hardly served as sufficient deterrence to those bent on foisting the rule of the jungle on our election process.
“Also, the deployment of military personnel to harass political rivals was a new low in our electoral history and presents a serious setback to recent electoral reform gains. We call on the military high command to investigate these infractions and bring the culprits, whoever they are, to book as a deterrence to others.
“Going forward, there is need for serious national conversations on critical areas of improvement in the conduct of elections in Nigeria. We also call for a sincere revisit of the Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Report especially as it relates to reinforcing INEC’s independence, unbundling of INEC and setup of Elections Offences Commission.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to show commitment to implementing aspects of Uwais Report which relevance is validated by recent developments in our electoral space.”