Two domestic election observers have identified areas of concerns with the Nigerian electoral process in their reports on the March 9 governorship and state assembly elections.
The YIAGA Africa Watching The Vote (WTV) and Connected Development (CODE) were two of the observer groups accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the elections.
They released the reports of their observations on the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections through separate statements on Wednesday.
The governorship elections took place in only 29 states as there were no elections in Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Bayelsa, Kogi, Anambra and Osun because the tenures of their governors are yet to expire.
INEC declared the elections inconclusive in six states where it has scheduled the supplementary polls for March 23 in units where elections were cancelled or disrupted.
The YIAGA Africa Watching The Vote (WTV) in its report expressed concerns about the ”do-or-die” attitude of the political class which it said led some to intimidate institutions such as INEC and security personnel.
The group stated this through a statement jointly signed by the Chair, Watching The Vote Working Group, Hussaini Abdu, and the Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA, Samson Itodo.
”YIAGA AFRICA is concerned with efforts by the political class to undermine democratic institutions like INEC and Nigeria Police. This do-or-die attitude of the political class where agencies of state like the Nigerian army are deployed to interfere with the electoral process despite legal limits to their involvement in the elections is unacceptable.
”This could imperil Nigeria’s democracy if not addressed. YIAGA AFRICA condemns the destruction and vandalization of INEC offices all in a bid to prevent the electoral commission from conducting elections. The common good should be the ultimate goal of public leadership but it appears, politicians are determined to subvert the electoral process for their personal gains.”
YIAGA Africa also expressed concerns on the immoral use of electoral guidelines on the collation of results, citing cases of INEC officials instructing security agents to deny accredited observers access to results in collation centres.
”The reports on non-compliance with electoral guidelines and procedures lapses in our electoral process could potentially undermine the integrity of elections. YIAGA AFRICA is concerned with the flagrant abuse of electoral guidelines on the collation of results in three states.
”In some cases, INEC officials instructed security agents to deny accredited observers access to results collation centres. This occurred in Ado LGA in Benue state, Osru LGA in Imo state, Rimi LGA in Katsina State and Yabo LGA in Sokoto state.
”Destruction of Democratic Institutions: YIAGA AFRICA is concerned with efforts by the political class to undermine democratic institutions like INEC and Nigeria Police. This do-or-die attitude of the political class where agencies of state like the Nigerian army are deployed to interfere with the electoral process despite legal limits to their involvement in the elections is unacceptable.”
YIAGA AFRICA urged INEC to ensure collation officers abide by the guidelines and regulations on management of the margin of lead principle.
”Results should not be declared and winner returned where the total number of registered voters in cancelled polling units will affect the margin of lead between candidates. This is in consonance with Section 26 and 53 of the 2010 Electoral Act as amended. the report partly reads.
Another group accredited as an observer for the elections, Connected Development (CODE), in a statement by its Communications Officer, Kevwe Oghide, praised INEC on its improvements on its logistics issues that marred the presidential elections.
”This time, there were minimal cases of logistics issues at the polling units during the Gubernatorial elections. Voting and accrediting were recorded to begin at 9.00 a.m in many polling units.”
CODE, through its election observation technology, Uzabe, said it recorded 107 election incidents of violence that characterised the gubernatorial elections across 25 states.
According to the report, the records of violence at the election was higher than the presidential election as there were heavy thug mobilisation, the influence of political parties, vote-buying, voter suppression and destruction of ballot boxes and election materials.
”It, however, condemns the spate of violence that characterised the gubernatorial elections, especially since INEC and the Police had assured Nigerians of better security. Records of violence at the gubernatorial election was reportedly higher than the Presidential Election.
”During the gubernatorial elections, Uzabe mapping tool received over 400 reports from on-the-ground observers and online social sentiment analysts. From these reports, Uzabe established 107 election incidents across 25 States.
”The election observation technology reported enhanced police deployment for the elections early on, until 2 p.m. when reports started filtering in from Kano, Kogi, Nasarawa, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Kano and Borno states respectively.
”There were records of heavy thug mobilization, the influence of political parties at some polling units, vote-buying, voter suppression and destruction of ballot boxes and election materials. There were also records of heavy military deployment and attacks on electoral facilities.
CODE, however, urged INEC to adopt result-management process using secure technology for result collation and transmission to avoid bottlenecks experienced with collating election results with excel sheets.