Civil society groups have said that security agencies, including the police, were complicit in the rigging and manipulation of Saturday’s governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
The Centre for Democracy and Development and the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities knocked the security operatives for allegedly colluding with state officials to undermine the electoral process in both states.
Presenting a report on the elections to journalists in Abuja on Monday, the CDD Executive Director, Idayat Hassan, said many voters were disenfranchised in Kogi as a result of threats to life.
She said the elections were “violently and crudely undermined by an unrelenting band of partisan outlaws,” noting that CDD observers and journalists in Kogi reported the death of 10 persons and over 79 critical incidents during the polls in the state.
Hassan stated, “The sheer magnitude of the violent assault on the sanctity of the ballot was shocking beyond description. The outcome of such a process that was so criminally subverted should not be allowed to stand.
“At the last count, our observer report from Kogi State had recorded the death of 10 people in various shooting incidents and attacks across the state. This has combined to damage the credibility of the polls.”
She added, “The incidents range from hijack of electoral materials by thugs, kidnap of INEC ad hoc staff, vote-buying, ballot snatching, attack on observers and journalists and under-age voting.”
In Bayelsa, the CDD director said the polls also recorded thuggery, shooting, vote-buying, coordinated attacks against the voting environment, particularly in opposition strongholds, as well as impersonation by voters.
“The conduct of the Kogi and Bayelsa polls is indicative of an electoral environment that is fast deteriorating. The two major parties engaged in electoral misconduct. An interrogation of the turnout figure declared in Okene and Adavi local government areas could not stand proper scrutiny,” Hassan pointed out.
The centre admonished President Muhammadu Buhari not to stand by and allow the degeneration of the electoral process, saying he should demonstrate leadership to redeem the electoral process.
It noted that the large deployment of security agencies did not translate to a secure voting environment and urged Buhari to investigate the failure of security during the polls.
CDD Senior Fellow, Prof. Ibrahim Jubril, said despite the purported deployment of 30,000 policemen in Kogi and Bayelsa, the operatives were not visible on the streets.
Jubril said, “I think the situation we are in is one of grave danger to democracy and my concluding point is that we should not forget key moments in our national history -1964 and 1983 elections in which it became clear to the citizens of this country that there was state complicity to ensure that free and fair elections did not happen in this country. We are back in that situation and what is under threat is the survival of democracy in this country.”
The Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, David Anyaele, disclosed that the Independent National Electoral Commission failed to provide special aids in most polling units for voters with disability.
He said, “What happened during the governorship and Kogi West senatorial elections were not an election but warfare to capture Kogi State, as the elections cannot be said to be free, fair, credible nor inclusive.
“Based on the level of violence experienced by voters in Kogi State in the presence of over 31, 000 men and women of the Nigeria Police, we call on Nigerians to demand accountability on the role of the Nigeria Police on the insecurity that characterised the elections.”
The YIAGA Africa called for an audit of the election in Bayelsa State, noting that there was no voting in many polling units.
The Chairman, YIAGA Africa Watching the Vote, Bayelsa Observation Mission, Dr Aisha Abdullahi, asked INEC to provide a detailed account of all polling units where no election held and to ensure that elections were held there.
She said, “INEC announced 352,552 votes or 71 per cent for All Progressives Congress and 143,172 or 29 per cent votes for the Peoples Democratic Party. These results are not consistent with the Parallel Vote Tabulation estimates of between 62 per cent and 46 per cent for APC and 52 per cent and 37 per cent for PDP. This suggests that the results were manipulated during the collation process.” Punch