The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) says Nigeria is degenerating into a “gunpoint democracy”.
Reacting to the widespread violence in the Bayelsa governorship poll, the election analysis centre of the organisation said the integrity of the election is in doubt.
Idayat Hassan, CDD director, said condemned the “coordinated disruption of the voting process and the subsequent destruction of electoral materials by armed thugs”.
“The very daring way and the manner in which the political thugs disrupted the voting and destroyed materials in such a planned and coordinated sequence, takes everything away from the credibility of the process and its outcomes,” she said in a statement.
“In large numbers of polling units, the voting environment was so hostile and unsafe, thereby scaring away eligible voters, who would only come out to vote at the risk of losing their lives.
“Similar incidents were recorded in Otuan Ward 5 Southern Ijaw LGA, where the election was materials hijacked by unknown thugs. Voting was also disrupted after ballot boxes were hijacked in Yenizue Gene II, Polling Unit II in Yenagoa LGA. CDD EAC observers further reported incidents of sporadic gunfire in Opolo area of Yenagoa Local Government, just one person reported injured, while two persons were feared to have died after being shot.”
The CDD director said data from EAC observers spotted incident of disruption of voting at Epie III ward, polling unit 001, where the election had to be cancelled.
“The level of malpractices in this election was pervasive as reported by our CDD EAC observers on the ground. In Agbere community in Sagbama Local Government area, for instance, there were reports of a group of people thumb printing a significant number of ballot papers,” she said.
CDD lamented in many polling units observed voting did not commence as at when due because of the very late arrival of election materials.
On the issue of vote-buying and trading, the CDD Director, widespread cases were recorded in Tombia Community; in Yenagoa LGA.
“The two dominant parties, APC and PDP matched each other with the PDP buying votes for N7000, while the APC paid N8000,” she said.
“In Sagbama, between two and three thousand Naira was offered to voters. PU 24, Ward 2. CDD EAC observers reported seeing voter buyers and sellers using code words and sign language to indicate where to meet for payment after the vote is cast.
“In the light of these findings, there is no mistaking the fact that we are degenerating to a gunpoint democracy, where the democratic choices of the voters do not matter, and where the desperation of the political actors would use every vile tactic available to undermine the democratic ethos. We, therefore, have a lot of work to do as citizens.”