As results continue to pour in from the November 16 governorship elections in Kogi State, a preliminary report by an independent group of observers has cast a doubt on the credibility of the exercise.
YIAGA Africa, a public policy think-tank that monitored the election, said its observers confirmed cases of voter inducement, intimidation, harassment and violence.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted the election on Saturday, which had the All Progressives Congress and Peoples Democratic Party as the dominant players. Several cases of violence quickly overshadowed the exercise based on news reports and residents’ accounts on social media.
YIAGA observers also reached similar conclusions based on their tour of the state on election day.
The report said voters received financial inducements from politicians throughout the exercise. Some voters in Aluaja, Iyano Ward in Ibaji Local Government Area received N5,000 to vote for a candidate.
But the inducement was also extended to electoral officers and security agents to compromise their roles, YIAGA said. In the same Iyano Ward, INEC officials were given N15,000 while security agents received a combined N50,000.
It is against INEC regulations for voters, electoral officers and security agents to receive cash rewards to exercise their respective roles in an election.
The report also found widespread case of inducement in Adavi (PU 001 Afinorere Ward), Ankpa (PU 010, Ward 01), Ibaji (PU 007, Itale Iyanu Ward), Idah (PU 001, Ugwod Ward), Yagba East (PU 01, Ward 08), Kogi K.K (PU 005, Ukwu ward) and Ajaokuta (PU 005, Deregu Ward).
As a means of covering their misconduct, security agents denied election observers access to some polling units, including PU 017, Ward 12 and PU 002, Adumudume Ward of Dekina LGA; PU 009 Ward 09, Okene LGA, and PU 013 Ward 06 of Bassa LGA, YIAGA found. Some observers were later allowed to enter some of the polling units, but many were prevented from other polling units throughout the exercise.
The group reported cases of voters bypassing accreditation as card readers were not used for verifying or authenticating the PVCs and fingerprint of some voters. This happened to at least four voters in PU 010 of Ward 01 (Ankpa Township Ward) in Ankpa LGA.
Also, unknown men and party agents were seen attacking and intimidating voters in polling units of LGAs in each of Dekina (PU 017, Ward 12 and PU 001 Yashi), Lokoja (PU 001, Ward C), Ofu (PU 005, Ugwalawo Ward), Ankpa (Ojokwu ward 3) and Igalamela/Odolu (PU 022, Ward 08) LGA.
Voting was disrupted at PU 015, Obehira – Ugee Ward, Okene LGA, PU 027, Ayingba Etiaga, Dekina LGA and PU 012, Crowther Memorial School Lokoja Ward A, YIAGA said. Each of these cases of violence occurred despite security presence, it added.
The group urged INEC to cancel places where unmitigated violence erupted, while demanding an urgent investigation into why deployment of security officers to many polling areas was delayed.
“YIAGA AFRICA calls on INEC to cancel elections in those polling units with cases of snatching of ballot papers/boxes, violence, and disruption. In the spirit of transparency, YIAGA AFRICA calls on INEC to make public the list of polling units where elections are canceled,” the report said
Security agencies were also asked to take proactive measures against individuals or groups that engage in “heinous electoral offences.”
Results have been trickling in from the Saturday’s exercise. Early results showed incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello of the APC leading in his native Ebira areas while Musa Wada of the main opposition PDP has been doing well in his Igala regions. Official results from INEC are being collated as of Sunday morning.