The Gender and Election Watch (GEW), an initiative of the Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), has condemned the various attacks observed during the gubernatorial and state house of assembly elections in Kano, Lagos and Rivers states.
In a statement sent to PREIUM TIMES, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GEW, Mufuliat Fijabi, said 350 accredited observers were deployed across some geopolitical zones of the country to observe the election held on March 18, from a gender perspective.
These observers, Ms Fijabi noted, were drafted to Adamawa, Kano, Lagos, Oyo, and Rivers states.
Ms Fijabi said the polls were mostly peaceful in all the states where observation took place except in Lagos, Kano, and Rivers where there were reported cases of violence and destruction of poll materials which in turn impacted the turnout of women and their participation in the polls.
She, however, said despite the challenges witnessed, the election was better than the presidential election held on 25 February.
“Over 70 per cent of polls observed opened before 9a.m. However, there were some instances of the late opening of polls,” she said
She said GEW observers reported that the situation was mostly calm at the start of polls, but that as accreditation and voting progressed the situation deteriorated in some places.
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She said: “In places like Lagos: PU 24-18-11-003 Oke Afa Isolo, Ejigbo Bestford Junction was attacked by thugs three times, who attempted to disrupt voting by upturning the ballot boxes and voter inducement. There was a response by security officials after the first two attacks, but no response on the third and final attack.
“In Rivers State, at Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic PU 17 Rumuokwuta 18 B, party agents threatened the life of NWTF observer and proceeded to seize his tag, he was helped to safety by an INEC official.
“In Kano, at Darmanawa ward, PU 01, Tarauni LGA, some party agents caused disruption which led to ballot boxes being destroyed because some ballot papers seemed to have been used previously, and in Adamawa at Bekaji Roundabout, Jimeta, Yola North LGA, a political protest was organised with security operatives firing teargas to dispel the crowd on 20 March 2023 on the delayed announcement of the results of the gubernatorial election.”
Ms Fijabi said GEW observers reported low turnout of both men and women in the 18 March 2023 elections, noting that most voters stayed away from the polling units because of the perceived atmosphere of insecurity.
She said in some states, NWTF GEW observed that women’s turnout was lower compared to the already low turnout recorded in the last presidential election.
“In Lagos, the Oro traditional festival in some parts contributed to voter apathy. However, in some states, a sizable number of women came out to participate in the elections,” she said.
GEW is an election observation platform from a gender perspective. It gathers information and carries out analysis on women’s participation during elections as well as the assessment of all critical components of the electoral processes for action and advisory towards more vibrant democratic governance in Nigeria.
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