2019 elections: We noticed vote-buying, violence, militarisation, say foreign observers
NEWS DIGEST–A joint international observation mission by the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute has said it discovered various electoral malpractices and crimes in the 2019 general elections.
The IRI/NDI electoral observers particularly identified vote-buying and electoral violence as some of the setbacks in the conduct of the exercise in various parts of Nigeria.
They called on the Federal Government to implement the Justice Mohammed Uwais-led commission’s report of 2008 and the Ken Nnamani-led electoral reforms committee’s report of 2017.
This position was made known at a press conference jointly addressed by the Senior Associate and Regional Director (Central and West Africa), NDI, Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh; and the Regional Director (Africa), Mr John Tomaszewski, in Abuja on Monday.
According to them, the discoveries were made during the Presidential and National Assembly membership elections held on February 23, noting that it was monitoring the activities of security agencies in Rivers and others states before, during and after the governorship and state House of Assembly membership elections held on Saturday.
Listing their findings, NDI/IRI said, “While a marked improvement was seen in the administration of the March 9 state-level elections compared to February 23, and the electoral environment was generally calm in most parts of the country, the elections our delegation observed were marred by irregularities, instances of intimidation, vote-buying and violent acts during the voting, counting, and collation processes in some places.
“Incidents of violence and disruption to the balloting process were observed in Lagos, Benue, Rivers and Nasarawa states. The delegation was informed of the loss of lives as a result of election-day violence. The mission deplores these losses and expresses its deepest condolences to the bereaved and to the Nigerian people.
“These actions and the impunity, with which some electoral actors conducted themselves, including some polling agents and members of the military, undermine citizen confidence in elections and threaten the legitimacy of Nigeria’s democracy.”
NDI/IRI said the atmosphere at closing and counting of votes remained calm and orderly in the majority of polling units where they observed.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Bar Association, through its Election Working Group which monitored on its behalf, the last Saturday’s governorship and House of Assembly elections in various parts of the country, has said the exercise was marred by various shortcomings, including violence, vote-buying, intimidation of voters and “noticeable low turnout of voters.”
The Chairman of the NBA-EWG, Mr Afam Osigwe, said in the group’s preliminary report on the election, that vote-buying was noticed in states such as Kano, Lagos, Bayelsa, Anambra, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Oyo and Kwara states as well as the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja.
Osigwe stated, “The political parties had a field day inducing voters with money, food items, soaps and various other items to vote for their parties’ candidates.
“These acts of inducement right before security agents within the voting precincts had the propensity to destroy the citizens’ confidence in the entire election process. Specifically, this was observed in Kano, Abuja FCT, Lagos, Bayelsa, Anambra, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Oyo and Kwara states.”