The Centre for Democracy and Development has raised doubts over the credibility of Saturday’s governorship and state House of Assembly elections following alleged cases of the sale of votes, violence and intimidation of voters.
While the group commended improvements in the conduct of the elections, especially in the area of logistical deployment leading to the prompter arrival of INEC officials, the group noted that there were still occasional issues of non-functionality of the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System machines.
The CDD made the observations in its preliminary statement on the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections in Abuja, on Saturday.
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Briefing journalists, the Executive Director of the group, Idayat Hassan, said data from its 1,500 observers deployed across the country showed there were more cases of vote-buying during the governorship election compared to the presidential poll of February 25, across the six geopolitical zones.
“In the North-West, observers in all seven states reported increased reports of vote trading, primarily by political party agents. Money was used alongside other materials such as food items, wrappers and a ‘credit voucher’ were used to buy votes and those items were to be redeemed after the results were declared.
Similarly in the Northeast, political party agents in Taraba State were observed to have infiltrated the queues, pretended to be voters and used the chance to offer cash for votes. In the South-East, there were reports of APGA and LP party agents using materials, phones and other souvenirs to entice voters in Anambra State.
In the South-South, multiple states reported a desire for voters to show proof of their ballot before being paid, with party agents reportedly compiling a list of their voters in Esan Central LGA, Edo State.
This might be a reflection of the heightened political environment around the governorship polls, the importance of local personalities in state-level politics, and the shortages of fuel and naira.”
Mrs. Hassan also expressed concern over cases of insecurity and reduced presence of security officials during the elections, compared to the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“A concern that has cut across multiple zones is the reduced presence of security officials. Observers across the states in the South-South, South-West and North-West reported a much smaller security presence, especially when compared to the presidential election.
“This has led to repeated skirmishes and fights between voters, party agents and officials. For example, observers in Enugu reported clashes between the party representatives, while others in Jigawa highlighted similar issues between self-professed party members.
There were reports in Ukanafun LGA, Akwa Ibom, where thugs attacked a polling unit and scared away voters. Election materials were also hijacked at gunpoint in Emelia LGA and thugs also disrupted the process in Obio Akpor LGA, both in Rivers State.”
Speaking also, the Chairman of the CDD’s Election Analysis Centre, Prof. Adele Jinadu, said the turnout of voters for the polls varied from state to state based on anecdotal evidence.
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He explained that in states where the incumbent was significantly challenged by his opponent, there were relatively higher turnout of voters.
Jinadu said the CDD observation data indicated that in the South-South, the general sense of discouragement across the region due to the unfavourable outcome of the presidential election, affected turnout, with voters declaring ‘there is no point’ of coming out to vote.
He also disclosed that the observer data showed that across the South-West zone, INEC officials arrived on time and promptly commenced the process in over 80% of observed polling units.
He said the trend was consistent across the six geopolitical zones. In Anambra State, 75% of polling units had INEC officials who arrived on time with voting commencing on average at 8:41am.
“There was even a report of INEC officials in Benue State having slept over at the polling unit to avoid late coming,” he added.