Kogi/Bayelsa polls: US, UK, EU, others raise grave concerns over election violence

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Following reported violence during the elections in Kogi State, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and other countries under the banner of Diplomatic  Watch, have expressed serious concerns over the election.

In a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja, the international community also said there were reports of fatalities and people missing, including staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“The Diplomatic Watch deployed teams from Austria, the European Union Delegation, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States to the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states on 16 November.

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

While also expressing concern over evident vote buying and credible reports of ballot box snatching in both Bayelsa and Kogi, the countries commended 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 long-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,” the statement further read.

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