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Keyamo to EU Election Observers: You Overstepped Your Bounds

He insisted that the body’s mandate does not extend to investigating candidates’ claims.

Ripples of the European Union (EU) Election Observer Mission (EOM) report continued on Wed, with the former Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, criticising the report which indicted him for allegedly peddling fake news days to the 2023 general election in Nigeria.

In a statement posted on his verified Twitter handle yesterday, Keyamo claimed the report did not deserve his response because “it was so presumptuous and outside their mandate”.

The EU-EOM report noted that Keyamo and his ally, former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, propagated fake news ahead of the 2023 general election.

However, in his response, Keyamo said: “The part of the EU report that asserts that there was a single incident throughout the whole campaign where I retweeted a news item by a ‘suspicious website’ does not deserve my response.

“(Because) it is so presumptuous and outside their mandate and exposes a deep-seated bias about how the so-called observers went about their assignment.

“However, for the education of the gullible and unfortunate ones who are jubilating over such a poor report, I will say a word or two.

“Firstly, their assignment is to observe and report. Their mandate does not extend to investigating claims made by candidates against one another and reaching conclusions on such claims. They are not journalists nor are they law-enforcement officers.

“They are just observers. Declaring any news as ‘fake’ when they don’t have alternative facts or findings by institutions statutorily empowered to investigate such claims is tantamount to taking sides on the campaign trail and trying to defend a candidate against another. And that is very disappointing and unfortunate on the part of these observers.”

Meanwhile, the Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) has expressed dismay over what it described as uncharitable attacks targeted at the EU EOM on alleged irregularities said to have undermined and tainted the credibility of the 2023 presidential election.

He had said the EU did not provide any substantial evidence viable enough to question the integrity of the 2023 election outcomes.

But CHRICED in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, stated that it “strongly condemned the recent onslaughts, including the ill-tempered press statement from the Presidency denouncing the EU EOM report.”

The Centre described the statement credited to the Special Adviser to the President on Special Duties, Communications and Strategy as one that, “gives the impression to Nigerians and the international community that current power holders are unwilling to learn the key reform-related lessons from the 2023 general election.”

It added: “Since 1999, the EU has been a strategic partner in Nigeria’s democratic process. The contributions EU has made over the years to deepening democracy in Nigeria cannot be dismissed with an ill-advised press statement from the presidency.”

CHRICED maintained that, “as an important instrument for the leadership recruitment in the country, the electoral process and issues connected to it, are too important to be trivialised.”

It added: “Instead of grandstanding and sophistry, those who claim to be democrats and progressives must put aside their egos and accept the flaws, which have made their so-called mandate questionable in the eyes of the public.

“It is therefore preposterous and indicative of a lack of willingness to right the wrongs for key officials of the state to unjustly castigate national and international organisations that are dispassionately calling for comprehensive electoral reforms in Nigeria.”

Chuks Okocha and Emameh Gabriel

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