YIAGA AFRICA says the level of impunity observed in the Saturday’s governorship supplementary elections is an indication of democratic recession in Nigeria.
The Watching The Vote (WTV)’s group disclosed this to journalists at a press conference on Saturday.
YIAGA AFRICA affirmed that Nigeria cannot continue to condone this brazen disregard for law and order by political actors.
“As a country determined to make progress, electoral impunity must be checkmated else it will imperil our 20-year-old democracy,” the group said in a statement.
“As noted earlier, political thugs unleashed violence and terror on unarmed voters, INEC officials and citizens without any form of restraint or reprimand from security agencies deployed for the elections.
“In some cases, political thugs overpowered security agents despite massive security deployment as reported in Makurdi where the Returning Officer for Gboko was shot by unknown gunmen on her way to the state headquarters to submit election results as well as Ukum LGA, Benue state where thugs burnt election materials for polling units in Azendieshi Ward-02 and the Incidence of this nature, questions the effectiveness of massive security deployment for elections.”
The group also called on the National Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) and Nigerian Police to launch investigation cases of infractions during the governorship supplementary elections.
“We urge INEC and Nigerian police to properly investigate cases of infractions and ensure diligent prosecution of electoral offenders.
“INEC and the police should extend the investigation to reports of complicity and collusion of its staff to compromise to the process.”
The independent electoral observers group also condemned the deployment of political thugs that visibly attacked voters and disrupted elections in some polling stations in Kano and Benue states without any resistance from security agencies.
“We received reports on voter suppression manifested in the form of denying voters access to polling units by political thugs.
“The non-compliance with electoral guidelines, intimidation of voters and observers, violence and voter suppression impedes on the integrity of the election in some states.
“YIAGA AFRICA questions the credibility of some results announced by INEC in polling units and LGA collation centres where observers and voters were chased away by political thugs and police officers.
“This was prevalent in Kano state in places like PUs 008 and 010, Kwarkiya Ward of Minjibir LGA, PU 008, Kanawa ward; Cikin Gari ward 05, in Sumaila LGA; and PU 07, Batayya ward 02, Albasu LGA; Zango PU 021, Karaye ward 03, Karaye LGA in Kano state. In addition is the result from Polling unit 003 Alkala, gaya Arewa ward in Gaya LGA where voting was not concluded at the polling unit, however, results were announced at the collation centre.”
YIAGA AFRICA, however, commends INEC for the improved management of election logistics and timely deployment for the elections.
The group also urged INEC to make concerted efforts to vacate the substituting court order restraining it from concluding the elections in Adamawa and Bauchi state.
YIAGA AFRICA called on all stakeholders to reclaim Nigeria’s democracy by demanding accountability against all state and non actors whose act undermined the electoral process.