Edo Poll: There Were Vote-For-Cash And Cash-For-Vote Deals – TMG

Edo Poll: There Were Vote-For-Cash And Cash-For-Vote Deals – TMG

By Maximus Chukwuka | Staff Reporter on September 30, 2016
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governorship, Osun, Rerun, Adeleke, INEC
File: Elections on-going in Nigeria

The Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, a coalition of human rights, non-governmental and civil society organizations has issued a press release on the just concluded Edo State Governorship election.

In a statement issued  on Thursday, September 29, 2016 which was e-mailed to The Trent and signed by the chairperson Abiola Akioyede-Afolabi – the organisation noted that it deployed 100 citizen observers throughout the Edo State to observe the gubernatorial election.

The  Observers according to the chairperson  were deployed across the 18 local government areas (LGAs) of Edo State. They witnessed the entire Election Day process from setup of the polling unit through the announcement and posting of the official results.

Accordingly, the observers called the Information Center to report their observation findings at the end of the exercise.

Summary of Findings

Based on our observer reports from all the 18 LGAs, TMG finds that the Election Day process commenced early in most of the polling units visited, there was prompt deployment of materials and personnel by INEC except in a few places as well as proper conduct by security personnel in all the polling units visited. Largely, the polling process was generally peaceful in spite of few reported incidents of violence, intimidation, harassment and delays during the set-up and opening of polling units, and those associated with accreditation and voting processes.

TMG observers reported complaints about allegations of inducement of voters by political partisan the basis of ‘vote for cash/cash for vote’ to influence who they voted for. This will be a sore narrative of 2016 Edo State Election. We condemn the pathetic, sorrowful and ignoble act as it is our considered view that when people sell their votes, they become slaves to those who bought it, they surrender their power and strength as citizens and they are robbed of the moral right to hold the politicians accountable or question any wrongdoing by the politicians.

TMG, however, wishes to recognize the commendable level of participation in the election by the citizens of Edo State and congratulate their peaceful conduct throughout the Election Day process. TMG also observed that the adequate security presence at the polling units was of tremendous help in maintaining the peaceful environment. TMG notes further that the process provided most people of Edo State with a meaningful opportunity to exercise their rights to vote, and that in spite of the few reported incidents of intimidation, violence, and voter inducement, these incidents do not significantly undermine the integrity of the accreditation, voting and counting processes.

About Transition Monitoring Group (TMG)

TMG is Nigeria’s premier citizen observer group. TMG observed the transition from military rule to the return to democratic rule in 1999 and all subsequent national and state elections after. TMG is a coalition of over 400 civil society organizations based in all 36 states and the FCT. TMG reports are based on findings from our carefully selected, trained and accredited citizen observers. TMG volunteers are drawn from every corner of the State and include: men and women, people with disabilities (PWDs), youths and elders, Christians and Muslims. TMG is an independent and strictly non-partisan organization with no affiliation to any political party or candidate.

Findings 

Set-up and Opening of Polling Units:

TMG observers arrived as early as 7:30am across all the polling units they were deployed to observe. We observed prompt deployment of materials and INEC personnel across most of the observed polling units, except in few places.

TMG observers reported an average deployment of at least 4 INEC officials in most of the observed polling units and a good proportion of them were women, security personnel were also seen in all of the observed polling units, proper conduct by the security personnel was largely observed.

Party agents were also seen in all of the observed polling units. However, many among the contesting Political Parties were unable to deploy Agents to several Polling Units.

Accreditation and Voting:

Accreditation and voting commenced between 8:00am – 9:00am in most of the observed polling units. Card readers functioned optimally in the observed polling units, and polling officials ask voters for their permanent voters’ cards in the observed polling units.

Polling officials applied indelible ink on left fingers of accredited voter in the observed polling units. Some voters were accredited to vote even though card reader could not verify their permanent voter card. The few incidents of Card Reader malfunctioning were promptly attended to by the INEC ICT team and were mostly resolved.

Equally, we observed that voting cubicles were set-up in all polling units so voters could mark the votes in secret. Ballot box was shown to be empty before being locked as reported and polling officials stamped, signed and dated every ballot paper before issuing them to voters in the observed polling units.

Counting of Votes / Declaration of Results:

Polling officials counted numbers of unused ballot papers, counterfoils for used ballot papers, and spoilt ballot papers and sorted ballot papers into piles by political parties in the observed polling units.

Most of the party agents present signed the declaration of results forms and most of the party agents were given copies of the gubernatorial election result for the entire polling unit.

Results for the gubernatorial election were posted for the public to see in most of the observed polling units. Largely, observers reported that the accreditation, voting and counting processes were orderly and peaceful throughout.

Critical Incidents:

Critical incidents are electoral irregularities, whether intentional or inadvertent, that could undermine the integrity of the overall process if they were to occur at significant levels and rates.

• The most frequent reported incidents are vote buying/voter bribery.
• The moderate ones included among others, intimidation and harassment, campaigning/campaign materials at polling units,

Recommendations and Conclusions:

The conduct of elections provides the opportunity to draw lessons with the aim of improving future ones. At TMG, we recognize that no electoral process can be perfect. However, as a growing democratic society, we should seek to make the conduct of our elections better than the previous ones.

It is important that as we seek to improve upon our electoral process, there should be improved communication between INEC and other election stakeholder. We wish to call for a more effective synergy between INEC and Security agencies so as to avert the new ugly narrative that led to the postponement of the Edo election and call for a better collaboration in Ondo and subsequent elections. We call on all stakeholders to draw lessons from the just concluded Edo polls to improve upon upcoming ones. Accordingly, and based on the findings above,

TMG makes the following recommendations:

1. INEC should ensure that similar tempo is sustained in other subsequent elections as observed in the just concluded Edo election by ensuring early training and retraining of personnel as well as early deployment of personnel and materials respectively.

2. Prompt communication of changes in plan by INEC should be considered very important in order to forestall wastage of resources and unnecessary voter apathy.

3. The security agencies should judiciously engage all forums and channels of communication with the INEC and other electoral stakeholders to prevent unnecessary overlaps with the mandate of the INEC.
4. Political Parties should place more emphasis on a more innovative and decent ways of canvassing votes ahead of elections rather than embarking on cash inducement of voters as experienced in a pocket of polling units during the election.
5. Voters should freely exercise their franchise without undue interference or inducement by the politicians. Votes should be based on trust on the candidates to deliver on electoral promises and party manifestoes rather than how much money a political party or candidate can offer on Election Day.
6. TMG decries the alarming rate of voided votes which is becoming a recurring decimal in Nigeria election. There is need for election stakeholders, CSOs, political and INEC to take the issue of voter education serious as we approach Ondo and other future elections.
7. TMG seize this opportunity to stress the need for further electoral reform especially the need for creation of Electoral Offences Commission.

TMG commends INEC for its steadfastness as it continues to ensure integrity of the polls and outcomes. We believe that the commitment of INEC to Edo election will shore up citizens confidence in the ability and integrity of the commission to successfully conduct future polls.

TMG calls for calm and urge parties, candidates and their supporters who may have misgivings or wishes to challenge the outcome of the election to seek redress through appropriate channels and not to take laws into their hands.

TMG commends the security agents largely for the professional conduct exhibited throughout the polling process. TMG also recognizes the dedication of the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) members who served and continue to serve as polling officials despite the many challenges. Above all, TMG commends the citizens of Edo State for their determination to exercise their right to voteand peacefulness of the polling process.

Thank you.

Long live Edo State!

Long live Nigeria!!

Long live TMG!!

Abiola Akioyede-Afolabi (PhD)
Chairperson, Transition Monitoring Group 

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