Nigerian President and presidential candidate of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) Goodluck Jonathan (C) sits among party leaders during a rally in Maiduguri on January 24, 2015. Boko Haram fighters have killed 15 villagers near Maiduguri, t ~ TUNJI OMIRIN
Abuja - The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has deployed 12 members of the Long-term Election Observation Mission (LTEOM) to five of Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones to monitor the country’s general elections.
According to a statement from the regional body at the weekend, the team, which is part of a larger 250-strong ECOWAS Election Observation Mission (EOM), headed by former Ghanaian President John Kufuor, has met key Nigerian political stakeholders including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the National Human Rights Commission.
“The observers have also consulted with Civil Society Organizations including the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the Policy of Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) UN Women and the EU delegation. The LTEOM team, which comprises Election, Political Legal, Conflict Prevention, Operations and Media Specialists, has also received preliminary briefings from officials of the ECOWAS Commission’s Early Warning and Political Affairs, Peace and Security Directorates,” the statement read.
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ECOWAS Head of Electoral Assistance Unit, Francis Oke, said the deployment of observation missions by the Commission is consistent with the provisions of the regional Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and within the framework of the ECOWAS Electoral Assistance Programme for Member States.
“While the larger EOM short-term mission, which is due to arrive Nigeria on 10th February 2015 will concentrate on the regular observation of the electoral process, before, during and the post-election period, the LTEOM will serve as a rapid response mechanism for emergencies and contribute to the prevention and management of election related conflicts,” Oke said.
He added that the members WOULD provide credible real-time analysis and substantial recommendations and help create an atmosphere of public trust and encourage citizen participation.
The general elections are taking place under heightened international interest and security concerns, especially in the North-eastern part of country.