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Ekiti poll can’t be used as template for 2019 elections, observers say

Ekiti poll can’t be used as template for 2019 elections, observers say
July 18
07:44 2018
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A coalition of domestic and international election observers say the Ekiti state governorship election fell short of global standards.

The observers praised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the proper conduct of the poll but criticised the deployment of over 30,000 security agents for the exercise.

They said the conduct of some of the security operatives largely marred the electoral process.

The observers, comprising representatives from over 50 domestic organisations, human rights groups and international election monitoring groups, condemned the deployment of security agents for the poll, among other irregularities.

Some of the observer bodies include Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness, (Nigeria), Justice and Equity Organisation, (Nigeria), International Republican Institute (South Africa), Patriotic Women Foundation, (Abuja), among others.

According to NAN, the observers said vote buying, ballot box snatching, sporadic shootings, intimidation, oppression and forceful influence of electorates’ free will were among the anomalies that characterised the poll.

The observers held that the poll cannot be recommended as a template for the forthcoming 2019 general election as it fell short of global standards.

Gabriel Nwambu of the Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness, Abuja, said: “Modern democracy guarantees freedom of electorate to determine who to vote, saying anything against this was an usurpation of their right.

“Polls also should comply with globally accepted standards, hence observers’ job is to assess the level of compliance of electoral umpire to constitutional regulations which serve as a way to give direction for future exercise

“Reports of observers remain a potential tool for election tribunals and other monitoring and relevant bodies for post election activities. Fifty one reputable domestic observer groups were on ground in all the 177 wards, 16 Local Government Areas and all the polling units in the state to monitor the poll.

“Ekiti has a record of being a serial politically volatile state in Nigeria and this became manifest before during and after the poll

“The exercise witnessed a high level of unprecedented electoral related challenges. Such abuse will remain contentious until justice prevails, especially in the areas of cash inducement, arrests of political stalwarts by security agents and snatching of electoral materials by political thugs among other abuses.”

The observer cited some units and wards in Aramoko, Ekiti West Local Government Area, and Efon Alaye, Erungbua settlement, Efon local government area in which there were large numbers of accredited voters.

He observed that while many voters, including pregnant women, persons living with disabilities and aged people trooped out to vote, card readers were slow, voting buying and cash inducement held sway.

He said: “Finger biometric capture was slow. Party stalwarts were indicating to voters where to thumbprint. Poll was delayed due to slow pace of machines.

“Party agents had huge cash and were close to voting points. Security agents were indifferent to cash inducement of voters. The whole process falls short of the compliance with international best standards.”

One of the international observers, Virginia Marumoa-Gae of the International Republican Institute (IRIS) in South Africa, said: “Voters showed their ballot papers to party agents to collect money, thugs disrupted voting process by shooting, but the police and other attaching security agents did well by establishing their presence at the polling units as stipulated by the constitution

“We also noted that the INEC has improved on card readers this time.”

Also speaking, Yemisi Ige of the Patriotic Women Foundation, a human rights organisation based in Abuja, said while INEC did its best within the framework of electoral regulations, conspicuous lapses in security caused many of the anomalies that greeted the poll.

She said: “The July 14 was full of human rights violations, political party agents arrest, disruption of polls leading to cancellation of polls results.”

Ige said the deployment of 30, 000 policemen was unwarranted as it scared some voters away and is a clear case of violation of humans rights.

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