The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has condemned pockets of violence and vote trading that characterised the Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo States governorship elections.
A member of the CDD Election Analysis Centre, Dr Jack Jackson, at a press briefing today in Abuja, also bemoaned the late arrival of sensitive materials by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Jackson said observers had hoped that political actors would have played by the game going by the plethora of campaigns for a peaceful poll.
He said: “The CDD Election Analysis Centre (CDD-EAC) has been observing the off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi with a deployment of over 150 fact-checkers and observers in all three states, as well as a team of data clerks, reviewers and analysts in its situation room in Abuja.
“As highlighted yesterday, the importance of these elections cannot be overstated as they mark another milestone in Nigeria’s longest democratic period and represent the chance for citizens in these three states to vote for their governors.
“Delayed voting and deployment challenges Our observers reported that voting in 65% of polling units observed in Bayelsa and 80% of polling units observed in Imo started late, well after the 8am commencement time.
“While this was different in Kogi, where this rate was 40%, there were still pockets of late polls commencing across the state. Of particular concern the low voter turnout that we have noted in the various polling units we have observed.
“The few voters who were present confirmed that many eligible voters were scared of coming out to vote due to fear of violence.
“We are particularly concerned about the turnout rate and how this will affect future engagements between the citizens and elected officials.
“There have been several reports about voter inducement across all three states. Observers reported incidents in PU 1. Ward 8 and PU 11. Ward 1 in Sagbama LGA in Bayelsa West.
“In Bayelsa Central, vote trading was reported in PU 16, Ward 6 in Yenegon LGA, PU 22, Ward 13 in Southern Ijaw LGA with reports of voter inducements ranging from 5,000-22.000 Naira including other items such as wrappers.
“In PU 30 and 31, Ward 13, along with money, rice was also shared to buy votes and we are concerned that there were allusions that it might be linked to the delayed flood and subsidy palliatives that state governments only started distributing two days ago.
“In Kogi, there were reports of vote buying in PUS 004, 038 and 039 in Ward A of Lokoja LGA, where party agents were allegedly sharing out money to voters upon confirmation that they voted for their party candidates.
“Furthermore, both APC and PDP agents were reported to have engaged in vote buying. with 2000 to 3000 naira shared, at PU3 Mbutu Ward, Aboh Mbaise LGA and PU11. Civic Centre Ward. Mbaitoli LGA. There was also another incident in Olamaboro LGA, Ward 3 und Unit 12, with reports of vote buying by APC and PDP agents.”