The Centre for Democracy and Development, has expressed concern with the high level of vote buying, violence and voters intimidation that occurred, during today’s governorship and the state house of assembly election in Nigeria.
The group raised the issues in Abuja on Saturday, during its preliminary statement on the governorship and State House of Assembly elections.
The Executive Director of CDD, Idayat Hassan, who briefed the newsmen in Abuja on Saturday, said data from its 1,500 observers deployed across the country showed, there were more cases of vote-buying during the governorship elections compared to the presidential polls of February 25, across all six geopolitical zones, in the country.
Her statement read’s, “In the northwest, observers in all seven states reported increased reports of vote trading, primarily by political party agents. 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.
“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.”
Speaking further, Mrs Hassan expressed concern over cases of insecurity and reduced presence of security operatives, during the elections, compared to the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly election.
“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.
“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.”
In his speech, the Chairman of the CDD’s Election Analysis Centre, Prof. Adele Jinadu, said the turnout of voters for the polls varied from state to state based on anecdotal evidence.
He revealed that, states where the incumbent was significantly challenged by his opponent, there were relatively higher turnout of voters.
He stated that, CDD observation data indicated that in the south-south, there was a low turnout, across the region due to the unfavourable outcome of the presidential election.
However, he disclosed that CDD observer data revealed that, across the southwest zone, INEC officials arrived on time and promptly commenced voting process in over 80% of observed polling units.
He stated that thee trend was consistent across the six geo-political zones. In Anambra state, 75% of polling units had INEC officials who arrived on time with voting commenced on average at 8:41am.
“There was even a report of INEC officials in Benue state having slept over at the polling unit to avoid late coming,” he added.
However, while the group commended improvements in the conduct of Saturday’s elections, especially in the area of logistics deployment, leading to early arrival of INEC officials for the elections, they noted that were still occasional issues of non-functionality of the Bi-modal Voters Accreditation System.