ABUJA – The EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) yesterday ruled out the possibility of monitoring the forthcoming general elections in the North-East due to insecurity in the region.
The Chief Election Observer for EU, Mr Santiago Ayxela, said this in Abuja during a courtesy visit to the APC presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
According to him, the mission will deploy 90 observers to monitor the election across the country except the North-East region.
He added that the first batch of 30 observers had arrived the country while the second batch would be in Nigeria by February 7 and final batch, before the elections.
“We can’t be in the North-East for security reasons.
‘But we have people deployed very close to the North-East and we have contacts there and so, we will try to get better information as much as we can have on the region.
“The present situation does not allow us to go to the North-East,’’ Ayxela said.
Ayxela further said that the planned election was important to Nigeria and the EU, stressing that whatever happened to Nigeria would affect the whole of Africa and the EU.
He said that the mission would monitor the process and conduct of stakeholders to ensure compliance with relevant laws not only on the day of the elections but before and after the polls.
“The EU EOM is a big mission. It is a mission that started in November 2014 and will be in place till mid-April.
“What happens on the Election Day is not only the problem; it is what happens during and within a space of time and how the law has been complied with.
‘It is also about the propaganda, activities of the media and any possible claims after the elections.
“That is our role and not just to follow up the days of election ’’.
Reacting to questions on how the 90 observers would effectively monitor the 120,000 polling units, Ayxela said, ‘it is not possible to cover everything.
“I can’t tell you that we will cover all the wards either for this election or for any other election, Nigeria is a very big country with so many inhabitants.”
He, however, expressed optimism that the delegation would meet President Goodluck Jonathan who is also the PDP presidential candidate in the Feb.14 election.
‘But I cannot tell when, because he is the President, he is the one who will tell you the ideal moment for him to receive us.”
Also speaking on the outcome of the meeting, Buhari described the EU observers as “experienced people who had been covering other countries’ elections.
“They are qualified to come for these elections and as you have observed, they cannot cover all the 120,000 polling units but they will place people in strategic places to advise them.’’