The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday reaffirmed that it would partner Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Cross River in ensuring that 2019 elections were hitch-free in the state.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Dr Frankland Briyai, made the assertion in Calabar at a roundtable with CSOs in the state.
He said that with 98 days left for the conduct of the 2019 polls, the Commission needed to partner with relevant stakeholders for a hitch-free exercise.
Briyai, who described CSOs as important stakeholders in the nation’s democratic process, called for closer relationship between them and INEC.
He urged the CSOs to carry out voter education and sensitise the public to the electoral process.
He added that they should mobilise eligible persons to participate in the electoral activities, including collection of Permanent Voter Card and the elections.
The REC reminded the CSOs that as an observer group, they had the responsibility of keeping watchful eyes on the entire election process.
“Election observation has become an internationally-accepted norm which established and emerging democracies have embraced.
“In 2015, INEC accredited 108 observer-groups, both locally and internationally, for the election,” he said.
Briyai also said that an observer should understand that his role differed from monitoring, adding that they should stick only to observation rather than interfering with the electoral process.
He urged them to register with INEC to ensure that they got their accreditation and tags before going to the field.
Mr Effiom Duke, a Facilitator of Green Concern for Development and Leadership, one of the CSOs, urged INEC to enhance its legal component to the elections by prosecuting persons arrested for electoral offences.
Similarly, Mr Egbe Etta of Community-Based Strategic Development, called on the Police and INEC to ensure that maximum security was provided for CSOs and the electorate during the polls.