Osinbajo leads Commonwealth election observers to Sierra Leone, arrives today

Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN

Nigeria’s immediate past Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, will arrive in Sierra Leone today, Saturday, June 17, as Chairman of the Commonwealth Observer Group (COG), preparatory to the country’s general elections.

Osinbajo, a Professor of Law, will lead the Commonwealth election observers to the parliamentary and presidential elections in Sierra Leone, scheduled for Saturday, June 23, 2023.

The Osinbajo’s COG, according to the constituted body, the Commonwealth, is made up of 12 distinguished members from more than 10 different countries across the Commonwealth, with international expertise in law, politics, election administration, human rights, media, gender and diplomacy.

It also informed that the COG will be supported by an 8-member team from the Commonwealth Secretariat, led by the Head of Electoral Support, Mr Linford Andrews.

The COG was constituted by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, following an invitation from the Election Commission of Sierra Leone.

It will be the fifth time for a Commonwealth Observer Group to observe elections in Sierra Leone, since the end of the civil war in 2002.

Meanwhile, Prof Osinbajo will address a Press Conference on Monday, June 19, in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and will be in the country for the rest of the month, while the Osinbajo-COG will report on the election’s credibility after the exercise.

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Below are the members of the Commonwealth Observer Group:

Chairperson: H.E. Yemi Osinbajo, Former Vice President of Nigeria

Observers (in alphabetical order of nationality):

• Mr John Njie, National General Secretary (Executive Director) of The Gambia YMCA & National Coordinator of the CSO Transitional Justice Working Group, The Gambia.

• Lady Anande Trotman-Joseph, President, Caribbean Women in Leadership & Chairperson, Commonwealth Caribbean Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies, Grenada.

• Dr Nasim Zaidi, Former Chairman & Chief Election Commissioner, India
Hon Justice Amraphael Mbogholi Msagha, Retired Judge, Kenya.

• Mr Sangwani Mwafulirwa, Director, Media and Public Relations, Malawi
Dr Elsie Nghikembua, Chairperson, Electoral Commission, Namibia.

• Ms Cynthia Mbamalu, Co-Founder and Director of Programmes, Yiaga Africa, Nigeria.

• Mr Glen Mashinini, Commissioner, Electoral Commission, South Africa
Justice Rohini Marasinghe, Chairperson of The Human Rights Commission and Former Supreme Court Judge, Sri Lanka.

• Mr Wesley Gibbings, Journalist/Media Trainer, Trinidad & Tobago
Ms Elizabeth Lwanga King, Development Advisor and Former UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative in Sierra Leone, Uganda.

The Commonwealth Secretariat appointing the COGs is one of the original signatories to the 2005 Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation.

As such, Commonwealth Observer Groups abide by the Commonwealth’s Revised Guidelines for the Conduct of Election Observation in Member Countries, which were adopted at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London in 2018.

According to the Commonwealth Secretariat, it stipulates that COGs are “Independent, including of the Secretariat. Members of a COG are invited by the Secretary-General to be a part of the team and each member is invited in their personal capacity as an eminent Commonwealth citizen, not as a representative of any member country, government or political group.”