Monday, January 26, 2015

EU Rules Out Observer Mission in North-East Nigeria
Published on Tuesday, 27 January 2015 05:01
Written by Balarabe Alkassim
Nigerian Daily Trust

Above Photo: APC Presidential Candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari and Chief Observer EU
Observation to Nigeria, Mr. Santiago Fisas Ayxelà addressing journalists after the end of the meeting between Buhari and EU Election Observers in Abuja Jan. 25, 2015.

Observers from the European Union will not be deployed in the North-East to monitor next month’s elections there.

Addressing journalists after a closed door meeting with the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate retired General Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja yesterday, leader of the delegation, Mr. Santiago Fisas, said the EU would not be in states affected by insurgency for security reasons.

He said the insecurity in the North-east would not allow the observers to freely move around there.

He however said they have contacts that would observe the elections in the area.

“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, try to get better information as much as we can have on the North-east. But the present situation does not allow us to go  there”, he said.

The delegation met with Buhari behind closed doors over issues concerning the elections.

Reliable sources said the talks bordered on the conduct of peaceful, free and fair elections. The team told Buhari that the mission would deploy 90 observers to monitor the election across the country.

Fisas said the first batch of 30 observers is presently in the country, and the second group would arrive  before the election.

He said the election is as important to the EU as it is to Nigeria as whatever happens in Nigeria would affect the whole of Africa and European Union.

He said the EU mission which had been involved in the Nigerian democratic process expects a peaceful and transparent election for the country to consolidate its democracy.

“The European Union election mission is a big mission. It is a mission that started in November and will be in place till mid April. What happens on election day is not only the problem. It is what happens during and within a space of time, how the law has been complied with, 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.

“This is a very big country with so many inhabitants and so, 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”, he said.

Also speaking after the meeting, General Muhammadu Buhari described the EU observers as experienced people who have been covering elections in other countries.

“They are qualified to come for this election and as he observed they cannot cover all the 120,000 polling units but they will place people in strategic places to advise them,” he said.

While expressing support for the Abuja Peace Accord at a similar meeting with the PDP, the EU said it had no favoured candidate or political party.

“We apply international rules for the election, that means we must be neutral, we don’t interfere at all as a mission. I will give you an example. It is like a football march, we are not the referee, we are just spectators, “ he said.

PDP National Secretary, Prof Wale Oladipo, said the party would not go back on the peace accord despite the recent attacks on its campaign train by suspected supporters of the opposition.

 “We have a unique responsibility as the party in power. The stability of the country, the progress of the country, the image of the country, we have a duty to protect it and we shall continue to do that as a political party,” he said.

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