YIAGA AFRICA, a civil society organisation (NGO), says political parties and security agencies compromised the credibility of the Kogi state governorship and senatorial elections.
The election observer and monitoring group said this in a report released on Sunday.
It also charged INEC to conduct a new election, saying Saturday’s did not reflect the votes of the people, irrespective of the results.
The group had earlier said it could detect if the result of the election reflect the will of the people.
“The challenges in Kogi state 2019 gubernatorial elections squally lies on the failures of security agencies, the police in particular, political parties, the major candidates and their state and non-state accomplices. These stakeholders deliberately worked to undermine the election,” the report read.
“They appeared to be more concerned about electoral victory than the credibility and legitimacy of the process. The unacceptable vote buying and violence perpetrated by the systematically recruited and prepared party officials and thugs were carried out under the full glare of the almost nonchalant security officials.
“They acted helplessly as if they were under instruction not to respond to the situation, if not already prepared to support the brigandage. As a result, the results of these elections cannot be said to reflect the preferences of voters in Kogi.
“In such a circumstance, YIAGA AFRICA calls upon INEC to conduct a thorough investigation of the conduct of the Kogi governorship and senatorial elections and to conduct a new election that gives voters a genuine opportunity to exercise their right to vote.”
The group, which deployed a pre-election observation (PREO) mission across all 21 local government areas (LGAs) in the state, said there was a trend of stocking up small arms and an active recruitment of thugs in the state before election procedures commenced.
“YIAGA AFRICA deployed a total of 548 observers for the Kogi elections with 500 polling unit observers deployed to 250 sampled polling units. Polling unit observers provided reports on the conduct of the election day process from the opening of polls to the posting of results at the polling unit level,” the report read.
“While Watching The Vote’s (WTV) Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) data demonstrated the commencement of polls in the state, the situational analysis of the process highlighted major infractions that had significant potential of impacting the credibility of the process.
“WTV expressed concern about the possible impact of this stockpiling and recruitment on the conduct of peaceful elections in the state, especially given the lack of response by security agencies before the elections. The PREO findings indicated a trend of voter inducement, including the purchase of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and voter information details.
“WTV observed political parties moving from house to house in Ankpa LGA to document names, polling unit numbers and addresses of citizens with PVCs, offering advance payments of five hundred naira (N500) and gift items such as vehicles in several communities ahead of the election.”
The group also attested to cases of intimidation of voters and polling officials by armed men and party agents, ballot snatching, vote buying, accreditation without card readers, and attack on both observer groups and journalists alike.
“WTV recorded intimidation and harassment of voters, observers and polling officials by unknown armed men and party agents of some identified political parties,” it said.
“These cases were reported in: PU 017 Ward 12 and PU 027, AyingbaEtiaga Ward Dekina LGA, PU 001 Ward C Lokoja LGA, Ojuwo Junction Market Square, Ankpa; Lokoja (PU 001, Ward C), Ofu (PU 005, Ugwalawo ward), Ankpa (Ojokwu ward 3) and Igalamela/Odolu (PU 022, ward 08) LGA.
“The process degenerated to sporadic shooting in PU 027, AyingbaEtiaga, Dekina LGA. YIAGA AFRICA also received reports of intimidation of journalists and election observer groups like Inclusive Friends, Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room and Search for Common Ground in the full glare of security agencies who made no effort to forestall or reprimand the political thugs.
“Election infarction, including snatching and stuffing of ballot boxes and papers were reported and confirmed in: PU 006Anyigba ward, Dekina LGA, Asuta Ward, AAyetoro Gbede Unit II High Court PU, 005, OdoluAjaka ward 1, 22/08/07/015, Oganaji LGEA Primary School, AnyigbaDekina.
“These were also reoported in PU 008 Olamaboro Ward 3 Ceremonial Sqaure, PU 003 Ukwo Ward 01 OLUBUN PU, ASUTA WARD, PU 003, Obaji Ward 1, Kogi K. K LGA, PU001, Ejule/Alla Ward, Ofu LGA, PU001, Ogaki Ward 06, PU-002,Aiyetoro Gbede, PU-003,Ilemo Mopamuro, PU-004, Lokoja.”