Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), said vote buying and electoral violence remained the sore points in the Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi governorship elections.
Dr Jack Johnson, Member of the CDD Election Analysis Centre (CDD-EAC) made this known in Abuja at a news conference on the off-cycle elections.
Jackson said that the CDD-EAC, had been observing the off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi with a deployment of over 150 fact-checkers and observers in all three states, as well as a team of data clerks, reviewers and analysts in its situation room in Abuja.
He said that overall there was early commencement of polls as well as the usage of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), however, there were several reports about voter inducement across all three states.
” Observers reported incidents in PU 1, Ward 8 and PU 11, Ward 1 in Sagbama LGA in Bayelsa West.
“In Bayelsa Central, vote trading was reported in PU 16, Ward 6 in Yenegoa LGA, PU 22, Ward 13 in Southern Ijaw LGA with reports of voter inducements ranging from N5,000 – N22,000, including other items such as wrappers.
“In PU 30 and 31, Ward 13, along with money, rice was also shared to buy votes.
” we are concerned that there were allusions that it might be linked to the delayed flood and subsidy palliatives that state governments only started distributing two days ago.”
Jackson said that CDD observed that in Kogi, there were reports of vote buying in PUs 004, 038 and 039 in Ward A of Lokoja LGA, where party agents were allegedly sharing out money to voters upon confirmation that they voted for their party candidates.
He further said that the two major parties’ agents were reported to have engaged in vote buying, with N2000 to N3000 shared and same at PU3 Mbutu Ward, Aboh Mbaise LGA as well as PU11, Civic Centre Ward, Mbaitoli LGA.
He added that in PU 7, Central School UmuNakanu Ehime LGA, in Imo, there were reports that INEC ad hoc staff were given monetary inducements by party officials.
He said that incidents of vote buying were concentrated in Mbaitoli-Ezinihitte, Owerri West and Njaba LGAs with the highest number of collected PVCs amongst the LGAs in the state with 150,012 and 134,192 cards.”
Jackson said that regrettably, electoral violence remained a sore point in this election.
He added that electoral violence was reported in Dekini LGA, specifically in Agala Ogane PU, Anyigba town, a thug was reportedly shot and killed by military officials while fleeing in an attempt to snatch a ballot box.
“There was a similar attempt in Ganaja PU, Ajaokuta LGA where the LGA chair was apprehended by voters.
“In Yenagoa LGA, observers reported that one person was shot at Famgbe community and, in PU 24 Ward, voting ended abruptly when thugs destroyed election materials at about 11:45 a.m.
“We note that in these area polling units, there was little or no presence of security officials.
“Similar instances were reported in Brass PU 7 Ward 7, observers reported that there were no security agents as late as 10:19 a.m. in spite of voting having started.”
Jackson said CDD also noted some election irregularities as well as fake news.
He said that days to the election, it was consistently claimed that the SDP candidate in Kogi, Murtala Ajaka, stepped down from the race and on the morning of the election, a false message was circulated that Ajaka was disqualified because of his running mate’s certificate controversy.
He added that there was a similar situation in Imo, where a video was circulated that purportedly showed the PDP’s candidate, Sam Anyanwu, had stepped down and endorsed the incumbent governor of the APC.
He, however, said that the video was similarly debunked but not before it had been widely reported on social media and on news platforms.