The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has questioned the accuracy of the election results earlier announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Situation Room, which comprises more than 60 civic groups, is a broad platform of civil society organisations that proposes change and reforms in response to key developments and gaps in the governance process in Nigeria.
In its preliminary report of the 2018 governorship election in Osun State, the group expressed concern that the entirety of the election derogates from the recent achievements in the country’s election process.
INEC earlier declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gboyega Oyetola, the winner of the 2018 Osun governorship election.
Mr Oyetola was returned as governor-elect on Thursday at the end of a supplementary election which held in seven polling units across four local governments.
The APC candidate won six of the seven units amidst allegations of harassment and other forms of malpractice.
At the end of the tally of votes, the APC candidate scored 255,505 votes while the PDP candidate got 255,023 votes.
In its report, the Situation Room stated that the election was heavily guarded with police and other security personnel, including the army, “overwhelmingly deployed across the seven polling units of the election, in a manner that created heavy tension and apprehension among voters.”
It also observed that there were political thugs and hoodlums being used to intimidate voters, with the security forces standing by and failing to act.
“From Situation Room’s observations, it is clear that the circumstances that led to the cancellation of the elections in the seven polling units where the elections were re-run including violence, also repeated themselves in most of this election, raising questions on why results obtained under these conditions should now stand.
“Situation Room is further concerned that the entirety of the Osun State re-run election derogates from the recent gains made in our elections process and the confidence that was beginning to be built. The lapses in the Osun re-run elections has put a serious question mark on the electoral process and raises concerns about the forthcoming 2019 Nigeria general elections,” it said.
The group could not state how the voting process started in Orolu local government as it said media and election observers were denied access during the early part of the day.
It further lamented incidences of violence and gunshots around some of the polling units and attacks against opposing political sides as well as reports of agents with large sums of money apprehended around the polling units and alleged fake observers.
In a similar report, YIAGA, in collaboration with Watching the Vote (WTV), stated that the supplementary election was relatively peaceful, but nevertheless, there was violence, harassment, and intimidation in Ward 8, Kajola Village, PU 001 Orolu LGA.
It said APC agents and party representatives identified PDP supporters to political thugs who attacked and beat the PDP supporters and blocked them from accessing the polling unit.
“Political thugs also prevented WTV observers from observing. The observers could only gain access when foreign observers arrived with a security contingent, but were still prevented from witnessing counting and the posting of results in this location.
“Political thugs also deprived media practitioners from accessing and using of phones at the PU. This was however resolved by noon.”
The group also decried the high rate of vote buying in several polling units where party agents were seen distributing cash and food to prospective voters.
While calling on the voters to remain calm, YIAGA urged INEC to carry out timely investigations into the critical incidents at Ward 8, Kajola Village, PU 001 Orolu LGA that may have undermined the credibility of the polls in this location.
It admonished security agents to remain alert, vigilant and neutral and to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators of electoral violence especially those who prevented voters, observers and media practitioners from accessing some of the polling units.
The group urged the media to promote credible and objective reportage of the supplementary elections.
The Situation Room and YIAGA are among the many observation teams to question the credibility of the electoral commission’s result.
Earlier, the U.S., EU and UK gave their initial observation on the conduct of the rerun governorship election in Osun State.
A member of the observer team, who spoke on behalf of the team, said the U.S. EU and UK observers had heard reports of irregularities, harassment, and interference by inappropriate persons in the elections.
“We are very concerned by these reports and will be checking with stakeholders to check the facts. We call on all stakeholders to remain calm,” he said.
The Centre for Democracy and Development, one of the foremost observer groups in Nigeria, also faulted the rerun election process.
“In the light of these anti-democratic acts, which have undermined the sanctity of the ballot, we hold strongly the view that the re-run poll of Thursday, September 27, 2018, does not meet up with the minimum standards for free, fair and credible elections,” the CDD said in a statement to PREMIUM TIMES Thursday afternoon.
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