By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
As irregularity and flagrant abuse to the electoral law continues to cloud Nigeria’s electoral process, frontline election observer, Yiaga Africa said its observers listed Kano and Lagos as states with high cases of voter intimidation.
The NGO in its mid-day situational statement on the 2023 governorship election on Saturday, said in Kankarofi Quranic Sch III Polling Unit, Kano Municipal LGA in Kano state, party agents disrupted the voting process on the grounds that a closed ballot system should be adopted as opposed to open ballot.
“Reports of voter intimidation were also received from Ijando and ward 6/001 Akefan community in Alimosho LGA and Lekki area in Lagos state.
“In PU 06 Ward 03 Ndokwa West in Delta State, an APC party agent prevented a Yiaga Africa observer from observing the process, stating that the LGA is under the control of the APC. Also, in Buhari Islamiyya School II Polling Unit, Madungurun Ward, Gwale LGA, Kano State, a Yiaga Africa observer was attacked by party agents.”
Yiaga Africa added that clash between party agents in Zango IV polling unit in Karaye Ward (19-22-03-021) of Karaye LGA in Kano, led to the disruption of the voting process. “The voting process was halted in Polling Unit IV in Sagamu LGA of Ogun State due to intimidation of voters and polling officials by supporters of the PDP.
“Party Agents also interfered with the process in PU 030 GRA Waterboard, Rimi ward, Keffi LGA, Nasarawa State, where party agents reportedly engaged in folding the ballot papers for voters. Also, in Kankarofi Quranic Sch. III Kano Municipal, Party agents interfered with the process so they could see how voters mark their ballots.
Also in Kano, it said hoodlums destroyed ballot papers and ballot boxes for the Fulatan S/Gari polling unit in Rogo LGA. “The process was halted as voters scampered for safety. At Kabuga PU 022, Gwale LGA of Kano State, thugs affiliated with the APC snatched ballot boxes for the PU resulting in voters fleeing for safety. “
“In Taraba, election materials for Wuryo Ward in Gassol LGA were hijacked by armed thugs during a clash between the residents of Wurya and Panya ward over the allocation of election materials. “One person was reportedly stabbed by the thugs.”
On cases of vote buying/ bribery, Yiaga Africa said it received 15 confirmed reports of vote buying across 8 states.
“In Sarkin Mudu Polling Unit (016) in Giade LGA of Bauchi, PDP agents were sighted bribing accredited voters with N1,000, a wrapper and a pack of spaghetti. The voters hand over their ballot papers to party agents in exchange for the bribe. A similar report of the distribution of wrappers, N2,000 and a pack of spaghetti to voters was received from PU 006 Rangan Ward, Warji LGA of Bauchi. Party agents for the APC and PDP party reportedly distributed food, cash and alcoholic drinks to some voters in exchange for votes in Apir market square 1, Makurdi, Benue state.
“A case of bribery was reported in PU O6 Ward 05 Isoko North, Delta State, where INEC officials received cash gift from the APC party agent in the polling unit. “
Meanwhile, Yiaga Africa urged INEC to take urgent remedial actions in polling units where cases of infractions and non-compliance with the 2022 Electoral Act and INEC guidelines occured. “This will deepen the legitimacy of the final outcome of the elections.
“Security agencies should respond promptly to reports of voter intimidation and attacks at the polling unit to accord citizens the opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
“INEC should ensure strict compliance with the guidelines for the results collation. Specifically, party agents and accredited media and election observers should be granted access to the collation centers. Collation officers should verify the results on the hardcopy results sheets and results transmitted with the BVAS during results collation.”