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Pockets of Violence not Enough to Justify Cancellation of Kogi Guber Poll, Says Coalition of INEC Observer Groups

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By Olawale Ibrahim, Lokoja

The Coalition of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) accredited Civil Society Observer groups who monitored Kogi gubernatorial and Senatorial Elections have disclosed that violence that occurred in polling during the election is not enough to justify cancellation in some quarters.

The Coalition at a press conference in Lokoja on Tuesday stated that they Observed elections in Kogi n 16th November 2019, adding that it was observed that the voters came out turned out in large .

The Coalition noted that the voters were waiting for electoral officers and materials in some pooling units

“Voters were able to exercise their franchise in an orderly and peaceful manner. The elections were smooth and successful in most areas across the state as observed by our members.

“Voting commenced slightly behind schedule in many places but this lateness was generally offset by hitch-free and speedy conclusion, except in some areas for reasons which we will state later.

“Elections in a few polling centres were marred by violence, ballot box snatching and other forms of disruption, by hoodlums, some of them in police uniform, working for unknown principals. The Coalition calls on the Nigerian Police and other law enforcement agents to unearth the faceless individuals behind such criminal activities.

“INEC deployed over 16,000 persons including regular and ad hoc staff for the election process. Coalition considers this adequate and reports that observable hitches relate to quality (character and training), rather than adequacy in numbers of electoral officers.

“INEC also supplied enough voting materials and Coalition members did not observe shortage of voting materials anywhere, although some materials were sent to the wrong place.

“The use of technology, particularly the smart card readers presented minor challenges but the INEC generally resolved this or effected lawful alternatives.

“Coalition noted the usual problems with some voters not finding their names in the displayed voters registers. In some instances, the affected voters had presented themselves at the wrong polling units and had to be re-directed.

“In other instances however, it seemed clear that the names of some voters were totally missing, or the list containing their names (alphabets) were not displayed, or were displayed late. Though incidents of this nature were relatively too few to impact the results of the elections, the Coalition still advises the commission to do better in future elections.

 

“As said earlier, Coalition observed incidences of violence which affected a few polling units across the state. The severity of such incidences were more pronounced in certain areas, particularly Lokoja. This is because of the sophistication of the operations in the affected units in the state capital.

“Coalition must however note that while the worst act of violence disrupted polling in the affected units, the actual damage to the electoral outcomes remained minor overall.

In comparison to franchised rigging malpractices such as hijack and unlawful thumb-printing of ballots on a massive scale, ballot box snatching tends to affect much fewer votes and it is a wonder that politicians and their thugs still resort to it.

“Also, of more severity is observed quid pro quo and transactional malpractices such as vote buying and voluntary breach of secrecy in voting between voters and agents of political parties. Voters and political parties voluntarily exchanged money for votes with the voter contriving to reveal his thumb-printed ballot in order to  receive payment.

“Nevertheless, Coalition notes that violence has remained a sad reality of elections in Nigeria for decades and the relevant authorities must do more to stamp it out.

In all fairness, Coalition must state that security personnel posted to election duty in the instant elections were generally on time at their duty post and were able to assist the process admirably in places where violent disruption did not happen, the coalition posited..

 

 

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