Collins Nnabuife – Abuja
The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has bemoaned incidents of vote buying, violence and intimidation during the polls in states including Kano, Jigawa, Lagos, Enugu, Bayelsa, Rivers and Yobe.
This is contained in the preliminary finding released by CDD on Saturday.
In the brief signed by the Chair of the CDD Election Analysis Centre (EAC), Professor Adele Jinadu and Director, Idayat Hassan, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was noted to have, so far, fared better in the area of logistics deployment leading to prompter arrival of poll officials for the commencement of the elections.
CDD observer data showed that across the southwest zone, INEC officials arrived on time and promptly commenced the process in over 80% of observed polling units. “This trend is broadly consistent across the six geo-political zones. In Anambra state 75% of polling units had INEC officials who arrived on time with voting commencing on average at 8:41. There was even a report of INEC officials in Benue state having slept over at the polling unit to avoid late coming.
“In a polling unit in Ekeremor LGA in Bayelsa state, the total number of registered voters was reportedly more than the number of ballot papers provided. Whilst in Yobe state, observers in Fika LGA reported that only 3 of the 10 polling units had results sheets. In Gwandu LGA of Kebbi, voters had yet to start casting their vote at 1000 because INEC officials did not have the ballot papers allocated for the polling unit.”
CDD’s observation also indicated that the BVAS appeared to have largely worked well across the country. “In the southwest, the BVAS was correctly programmed for accreditation in over 95% of cases.” Although the group said there were occasional issues of non-functionality of BVAS.
CDD noted, “that in a handful of polling units in Taraba, Lagos and Plateau states voting has concluded due to the number of registered voters being very small – less than 10 – and results have already been uploaded to IReV.”
However, it was noted with concern that “voting has been concluded and results uploaded in a handful of polling units where a significant fraction of registered voters have not voted. For instance, results were uploaded from Agbado Hall Edjekota Ogor, Ughelli North, Delta state before 2.30 pm, despite only 130 of the 192 voters on the register having had an opportunity to cast their vote.”
The brief said CDD will continue to monitor the level and quality of the uploading of results to the portal as polls close across the country.
On the turnout of voters for the polls, CDD described the situation as varied from state to state based on anecdotal evidence. The group observed that in states where the incumbent is being significantly challenged by his opponent, a relatively higher turnout of voters was experienced. CDD observation data also 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 that ‘there is no point’ in coming out to vote.
On how widespread vote buying was in the polls, CDD said its data shows that there were more instances during the governorship elections compared to the presidential polls of February 25, with this reality reflected across all six geopolitical zones. “This might be a reflection of the heightened political environment around governorship polls, the importance of local personalities in state-level politics, and the shortages of fuel and naira.”
The preliminary statement similarly revealed that in the northwest, observers in all seven states reported increased reports of vote trading, primarily by political party agents. It said the 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. Similarly in the northeast, “political party agents in Taraba infiltrated the queue, pretended to be voters and used the chance to offer cash for votes.
“In the southeast, 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 vote before being paid, with party agents reportedly compiling a list of their voters in Esan Central LGA, Edo state.”
Furthermore, the CDD statement documented incidents of violence, which it noted reinforces the heightened political environment in that the polls have been conducted. These incidents, the CDD noted, have often involved party agents and politically sponsored thugs.
In its words, “a concern that has cut across multiple zones is the reduced presence of security officials. Observers across the states in the south-south, southwest and northwest 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.”
Consequently, the think-tank identified voter suppression as a major factor shaping the conduct of elections. Furthermore, CDD said thuggery was used to disrupt the process. “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.”
Weighing in on the role played by online falsehoods, CDD emphasized how a flurry of voter intimidation video, were widely circulating online as voters were heading to the polls, particularly in Lagos.
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