Sheriff Mahmud Ismail: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 February 2023:
The Head of the ECOWAS Elections Observer Mission (HoM) to the Federal Republic of Nigeria arrived this morning at the ECOWAS HQ, in Abuja.
Received by the President of the Commission, Dr Umarr Alieu Touray, and the vice President, Mrs Damtien Tchintchibioja, Koroma addressed the ECOWAS Observers ahead of their deployment.
President of the Commission welcomed the observers, urged them to carry out their duties within the framework of their mandate and to do ECOWAS proud.
Ernest Bai Koroma thanked the observers for their willingness to serve the regional body, expressed confidence in their capacities and integrity to do their assignment well.
He emphasized the significance of these elections to both Nigeria and the region. He recalled that, of recent, there has been a backslide in good governance and democracy in West Africa with five coups, three of which resulted in military regimes.
He also stated that governance, peace and security challenges in the region usually revolve around attempts to manipulate electoral processes and elections results.
He therefore made the point that getting it right in Nigeria would set the standards for ECOWAS countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia who are preparing for elections in the next few months.
The president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari has been widely reported to have said that he intends to ensure that free, inclusive, transparent and credible elections become part of his legacy.
ECOWAS is obliged to participate in elections observation by Article 12 of its Supplementary Protocol on Good Governance and Democracy.
During the course of these elections, ECOWAS had deployed a ‘Fact Finding Mission’ from 21 October to 12 November last year, and Long Term Observers to every region. A core team has also been working on several critical assignments, including analysis of the political situation, the media etc.
This means that the regional body has been interacting with the relevant stakeholders well ahead of the polls. ECOWAS will stay on ground after the declaration of results to support the process of a smooth and peaceful transition.
In another development former president Koroma engaged the Nigerian military on their role and thanked them for their service in Sierra Leone during the ten year war.
As the ECOWAS Head of Mission, Koroma and delegation on today visited Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, CFR, along with the military chiefs at the Defence HQ in Abuja.
“Let me seize this moment to thank you and through you, the Nigerian Armed Forces who, with sweat and blood, fought hard to save the soul of our nation,” he said. He then explored the role of the military in the elections, in view of reports of security challenges.
General Irabor was particularly pleased with former President Koroma’s thoughtfulness of thanking the Nigerian army for the sacrifice they made in ending the war in Sierra Leone. Coincidentally, the CDS served in that war. He recalled his base in Kenema (district) where he said he served for two years.
He disclosed that he has been taking note of a President Koroma’s commitment and hard work in helping to promote and deepen democracy, good governance, peace and security in the region and beyond.
Of particular note, the CDS spoke of the President Koroma’s sterling post – war leadership of Sierra Leone, saying that it stands as a great legacy for others to emulate.
On the army’s role, and as the former Commander -In – Chief expected, the CDS informed that their role at the moment was principally to provide ‘residual’ support to the police. He however stated that should the need arises for them to be involved, they have developed a ‘Code of Conduct’ and “Rules of Engagement’ which shall guide their participation.
CDS Irabor profoundly thanked the ECOWAS HoM – Koroma, for his service to the continent and for standing by Nigeria at this time of their need.
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