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Ekiti governorship elections: elections observers unimpressed by conduct

Nigeria News

 

INTERIM STATEMENT BY DOMESTIC ELECTION OBSERVERS ON THE RE-RUN ELECTIONS IN EKITI STATE   DEMOCRACY IN DETENTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the 17th day of February 2009 the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Judicial Division ordered re-run election in some wards and Local Governments of Ekiti State.

 

 

 

Consequently, the Independent National Electoral Commission conducted the re-run election on the 25th day of April 2009.

 

The build up to the re-run elections was tense and desperate as the major political parties saw the elections as a project that must be accomplished through orthodox and unorthodox means.

There were allegations and counter allegations of the recruitment, training and deployment of fake soldiers and police to assist in the intimidation of voters and the rigging of the elections.

There were allegations of massing of arms and ammunitions, training and importation of thugs from neighboring states and resort to the use of charms for the elections.

On the basis of the uncertain atmosphere for the elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was careful on the production and distribution of sensitive and non sensitive materials for the conduct of the re-run elections.

To ensure neutrality on the part of its staff and election managers, the Independent National Electoral Commission did not use its Ekiti Staff in the conduct of the re-run election. The use of INEC personnel from outside the State helped in dispelling suspicion of bias on the part of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

However, some of the personnel from outside the State and the Youth Corp members used as Presiding Officers   and supporting staff could not properly navigate the terrain where they were posted to as they could not easily locate the polling units assigned to them

Moreover some of the Youth Corp members had very serious language challenges and this created its own peculiar problems leading to the late commencement of the re-run elections in some polling units.

The use of the voters register used for the 2007 elections with all its imperfections for the re-run elections posed serious challenge to electoral personnel and the voters.

 

 

 

The accreditation of voters in some polling units was difficult and some voters had difficulty locating their names while some with genuine voters’ cards could not vote as their names were omitted in the voters register.

 

Despite the tense atmosphere that attended the elections and the shortcomings identified in relation to the preparations the turn out of voters was impressive.

 

In most of the polling units, wards and Local Governments where re-run was ordered voting was peaceful and orderly and the voters conducted themselves in a commendable manner.

However, in some polling units, wards and Local Governments, violence, intimidation, the use of thugs and desperation on the part of the two major political parties led to the postponement of elections in two wards of Oye Local Government Area.

In Ifaki ward in Ido- Osi Local Government election observers were harassed, intimidated, attacked, injured and turned away. This has cast doubt on the integrity and authenticity of whatever result will emerge from this particular area.

While the Mobile Police patrolled the streets of Ekiti State and provided perimeter security, unprepared regular police manned the polling units and this undermined the security of Presiding Officers and Election Observers in some polling units.

 

 

The Police authorities also engaged in differential deployment of security personnel to polling units, wards and Local Governments resulting in lopsided presence of security personnel

 

Some party agents were desperate, aggressive, intimidating and bloodthirsty and held up elections in some polling units and wards.

 

In the light of the environment in which elections in Ekiti State was conducted and the conduct of some sections of the political class, it is clear that democracy is still in detention and that they are not ready to imbibe and mainstream themselves in its values and ingredients.

It is also clear that while genuine voters are anxious to imbibe the values of democracy and institutionalize it, some sections of the political class are insistent on snatching the sovereign right of the people as the sole determinants of electoral succession.

The elections in Ekiti State have further underscored the need for genuine electoral reforms and total re-branding of the political class.

We urge that in future elections, electoral personnel and Youth Corp members should familiarize themselves with the States they are posted for their assignment while the electoral management body should conduct orientations and induction courses for electoral personnel.

We urge that in future elections accreditation of Observers should take place two weeks before election’s while in re-run elections special accreditation tags should be given instead of what happened in the re-run elections where 2007  tags were issued further fuelling suspicion that fake Observers were deployed.

We urge the police authorities to release Dr. Abubakar Momoh, Dr. Azeez Olaniyi, Wahab Oyedokun and Bimbo Adewumi, duly accredited Observers who were arrested by thugs, brutalized and handed over to the Police.

We urge the political class to learn from the experiences of other countries with a history of flawed elections and how they gradually and in some instances rapidly descended into lawlessness and anarchy.

We commend the people of Ekiti State who have remained peaceful despite provocations by politicians and thugs. We urge them to remain on the path of peace.

The organizations that monitored the re-run elections in Ekiti State include the following :

Nigerian Bar Association( NBA)
Action Aid
Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)
Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC)
Committee for Defense of Human Rights (CDHR)jointly with Centre for Rule of Law
Electoral Reform Network(ERN)
Women Advoicates research and Documentation Centre(WARDC)
New initiative for Social Development (NISD)
Transition Monitoring Group(TMG)
Universal Defenders of Democracy(UDD)
Transparency Movement

Mashood Erubami                                         Reuben James Esq
Transition Monitoring Group                         Nigerian Bar Association
(TMG)                                                     (NBA)

Umar Farouk
Transparency Movement

Barrister Olasupo Ojo
Committee for Defense of Human Rights

For and on Behalf of Domestic Observers