The CCD Election Analysis Centre, EAC, has reported that Kogi election has been characterized by several malpractices.
The Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, has reported extensive financial inducement to influence voters as well as numerous violent attacks at polling units including the carting away of voting materials in Kogi State.
The Election Analysis Centre of analysis centre has drawn the attention of stakeholders to the volatile environment and disruption of voting across many polling units.
The Preliminary Observations of the Centre for Democracy and Development on the Kogi Elections reads:
Earlier today, voters across 21 Local Government Areas in Kogi State went to the polls to elect a Governor. In Kogi West, a rescheduled senatorial election also got underway following a court verdict cancelling the earlier vote.
At the CDD Election Analysis Centre (EAC), we have been receiving reports from our trained and accredited observers deployed across the 21 LGAs of the state. This preliminary statement is an overview of our initial findings on the conduct of the election.
i. FINANCIAL INDUCEMENTS: In our report yesterday, we noted the extensive use of financial inducements to affect the outcome of the elections as election officials were offered $1,000 each to buy their conscience. Today, we noted direct financial incentives to voters who were offered money before and after voting;
ii. THUGGERY AND VIOLENCE: We indicate below systematic and coordinated violent attacks numerous at polling units and the carting away of voting materials;
iii. INTIMIDATION OF OBSERVERS/JOURNALISTS: In many polling units, observers and journalists are being blocked from access and taking photographs in what appears to be an attempt to prevent the gathering of evidence of electoral malpractices;
iv. VOTER SUPPRESSION: The use of violence in the campaign and open threats of more violence in the elections appears to be a voter suppression strategy which we see being played out today.
THESE OBSERVATIONS APPEAR TO INDICATE A PLANNED STRATEGY TO AFFECT THE INTEGRITY OF THE NOVEMBER 16TH ELECTIONS IN KOGI STATE.
1) Violent Disruption of the Electoral Process
It would be recalled that in the final build-up to the election, CDD had drawn the attention of stakeholders to the very volatile environment and the mostly lawless tactics employed by the partisan actors to win political advantage at all costs. CDD EAC observers reported coordinated disruption of voting across many polling units with hired thugs invading Polling Units, shooting sporadically to scare away voters, and in several cases carting away voting materials.
In Polling Unit 001 in Ward 4, Dekina LGA, CDD observers reported the sporadic gunfire. Violent disturbances caused by rival party thugs who battled each other over control of the polling environment was reported in Felele and Ganaja areas ofLokoja LGA, especially in Registration Area 08, Oworo, Felele Area, PU 004. In Ankpa 1 Polling Unit (PU) with number 2203-04-0 in Ankpa Local Government.
CDD observers reported an incident wherein operatives of Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) stormed the location of the polling unit and arrested the PDP party agent. This move disrupted voting, as thugs responded by throwing stones in a bid to release the PDP party agent.
There were also several reports of ballot box snatching; an example is PU 004 Ayingba (PMML Primary School, GRA) where the polling unit was attacked by thugs alleged to be ruling party supporters.
The heavy presence of security was not enoughas a countermeasure to deter trouble makers bent on using violence to subvert the process. Observers and Journalists were all similarly harassed and attacked in several instances. A CDD observer was injured in Ayingba Ward 004 while our partner the Cable journalist was harassed and his phone seized for trying to take a picture off the APC senatorial candidate giving money to two older women who stood by his convoy.
Voters were also intimidated, followed into the voting cubicles and forcefully coerced, to vote for candidates against their wishes.
The coordinated disruption of the electoral process by hoodlums mobilised by the political parties undermines the integrity of the electoral process.
Notwithstanding that INEC enlisted the EFCC and the ICPC to assist in curtailing vote-buying, vote-buying was very rampant across the state. CDD observers reported that party agents in several polling units engaged in the financial inducement of voters to influence them to vote for the parties.The cost of a vote ranges between N500 and N3,000.
OPENING OF POLLING
KOGI: TIME OF ARRIVAL OF INEC OFFICIALS
As at 11.00 am, available data reveal that INEC officials arrived before 8.00 am in 55.2% of the polling units in Kogi state where CDD deployed observers. Also, INEC officials arrived between 8.01 am and 9 am in 27.6% of the observed PUs while in 9.1% of the PUs, the arrival of INEC officials was between 9.01 am and 11.00 am.
KOGI ELECTION: COMMENCEMENT TIME
Information received from CDD EAC election observersindicate that the Saturday, November 16, 2019, the election in Kogi State commencedbefore 9 amin some polling units across Adavi, Bassa, Dekina, Ibaji and Idah local government areas.
As at 11 am, accreditation and voting had started in 55.1% of polling units to which we deployed observers in Kogi state. Of these polling units, 20.7% began accreditation and voting at 8 am, 17.2% started at 8.30 am while 10.3% started at 9 am, and 6.9% started as from 10 am.
Further information reveals that a good number of the ad hoc staff are knowledgeable and familiar with the operation of the smart card reader in some of the polling units we deployed observers.
INEC and the Perennial Challenge of Poor Logistics
The late delivery of materials experienced in some part of the state was primarily due to logistics challenge and deplorable state of infrastructures like bad roads and difficult terrains experienced in the deployment of electoral materials to registration area centres (RACs) in some locations like Koton Karfe, Okehi, Okene Dekina, and Adavi local government areas.
2) Fake Newsand Disinformation
CDD preliminary observation indicates, as previously predicted that the political parties would use fake news to maximum effect as the election commenced. Some of the fake news circulated today includes the disqualification of the PDP candidates, false results, fake images of thugs arrested and snatching of ballot papers. CDD fact-checkers were able to debunk most of these fake news items. The hoaxes are mainly intended at delegitimising the INEC and the process. Again, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp are the leading platforms used to spread disinformation.
Signed: Idayat Hassan, Director