Yiaga Africa Observes Open Intimidation, Harassment, Vote Buying, Others In Guber Polls Across States

ABUJA – An independent election monitoring group, under the auspices of Yiaga Africa on Saturday, narrated how it uncovered 54 critical incidents which characterised the governorship polls in at least 25 states of the federation.

The Group which deployed several mobile and stationary observers across 28 states where elections took place, identified some of those incidents to include open intimidation and harassment of voters, disruption of voting and destruction of election materials among other vices.

Ezenwa Nwagwu, Board Member, Yiaga Africa, who reeled out some of their mid-day report and findings, in Abuja, said across the other 25 states that it deployed 550 observers, it received reports about the opening and commencement of polls, some of which were quite impressive when compared to the Presidential and National Assembly elections which held on February 25.

Nwagwu said the common trend observed was that INEC polling officials arrived at 7:30 am in 276 of the polling units visited. While accreditation and voting began by 9:30 am in 400 of the polling units visited.

Regarding the deployment of the BVAS, it observed the deployment of 2 or more BVAS devices in a certain number of polling units. But in certain isolated cases of the polling units observed, the BVAS was not shown to be zero records for the total number of accredited voters on it before the commencement of the process.

Yiaga Africa however noted that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) agents were sighted in most of the polling units visited. While Labour Party and New Nigeria People’s Party agents were sighted in 192 and 193 polling units, respectively.

Commenting on the critical incidents observed, the group said as at 1:00 pm, the Yiaga Africa WTV Data Center received 54 verified critical incident reports primarily concerning the intimidation and harassment of voters, disruption of voting and destruction of election materials.

It raised concerns over the secrecy of the ballots which was compromised at Polling units 001 and 002, Kofar Hausa LGA Primary School, Iya 1 ward, Keffi LGA of Nasarawa State.

It noted that, secrecy of the ballot was compromised because security and party agents could see how voters thumbprint the ballot papers.

“ln Kofar Alhaji Polling 020, Jigwada Ward, Keffi LGA, no voting cubicle is available as voters use a makeshift table for thumb printing of ballot papers. At Polling Unit 012, Masaka Garage, Karu LGA, Nasarawa State, the secrecy of the ballot was compromised as party agents see how voters thumbprint their ballot papers.

“The polling unit has over 8000 registered voters with 14 ad-hoc staff and 4 BVAS. The polling unit had huge challenges of crowd control. In Fufu LGEA School PU 001 Ilorin South, voters are showing how they marked their ballot papers to an APC party agent present before putting them in the ballot box.

“Observers reported intimidation and harassment of voters. In Kankarofi Quranic Sch III Polling Unit, Kano Municipal LGA in Kano state, party agents disrupted the voting process on if the voting should be closed ballot as opposed to open ballot.

“Reports of intimidation of voters were also received from Ijando and ward 6/001 Akefan community in Alimosho and LGA in Lagos state,” Yiaga Africa noted.

It also observed the obstruction of election observation in PU 06 Ward 03 Ndokwa West in Delta State, where an APC party agent prevented a Yiaga Africa observer from observing the process, stating that the LGA is under the control of the APC.

“In Buhari Islamiyya School II Polling Unit, Madungurun Ward, Gwale LGA, Kano State, an observer deployed by the group was attacked by party agents.

“We observed a clash between party agents in Zango IV polling unit in Karaye Ward (19-22-03-021) of Karaye LGA in Kano, which led to the disruption of the voting process.

“The voting process was also 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 were reported to be folding ballot papers on behalf of voters.

“In Kankarofi Quranic Sch. III Kano Municipal, Party agents were interfering with the process so they can see how voters mark their ballots. Hoodlums destroyed ballot papers and ballot boxes for the Fulatan S/Gari polling unit in Rogo LGA, Kano State.

“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.

“Election materials for Wuryo Ward in Gassol LGA in Taraba, 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. At PU 003 Ward 4 Etim Ekpo LGA, Akwa Ibom, PDP agents instigated a fight leading to the destruction of the voting cubicle, ballot box and ballot papers for the polling unit.

“Also uncovered was voter accreditation without using the BVAS: reports from Neat Tse-Alour Comp. Open Space polling unit in Gwer West LGA in Benue State indicates the polling officials allow voters to cast their ballot without using the BVAS to authenticate their fingerprints or facial biometrics.

“Similarly, polling officials permit voters to cast their ballot with temporary voters cards,” Nwagwu stated.

On allegations of vote buying and bribery, Yiaga Africa said it received 15 confirmed reports of vote buying across 8 states. While in Sarkin Mudu Polling Unit (016) in Giade LGA of Bauchi, PDP agents were sighted bribing accredited voters with a thousand naira, a wrapper and a pack of spaghetti each.

He said, “The voters hand over their ballot papers to party agents in exchange for the bribe. A similar report was received from PU 006 Rangan Ward, Warji LGAof Bauchi on the distribution of wrappers, two thousand naira and a pack of spaghetti to voters.

“Party agents for the APC and PDP party are reported to have shared food, cash and alcoholic drinks to some voters, this happened in Apir market square 1, Makurdi, Benue state. In PU O6 Ward 05 Isoko North, Delta State, INEC officials for the polling unit received cash gift from the APC party agent present.

“A report alleging the abduction of NNPP party stakeholders by DSS operatives was received from Bichi LGA, Kano state, where DSS operatives are reported to be arresting party agents and key stakeholders of the NNPP”.

Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).

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