The Elections Observation Mission of the National Consultative Front (NCFront), taking stock of the 2020 Ondo Governorship Election, has commended the electorate for their overall civility and resilience during the election.
In a statement on Sunday, jointly signed by its members, Mr Isa Aremu, Dr Tanko Yunusa, Mr Ernest Ofoye, Princess Adesola Ogunleye and Dame Olabisi Adu, the NCFront Observation Mission urged residents to sustain the peace which prevailed during the poll.
The group said: “NCFront commends the good people of Ondo State for the overall civility and resilience demonstrated during the voting process and their patience during the counting process.
“The NCFront Observation Mission, which stormed Ondo with a firm resolve to be stand against cases of electoral violence, vote buying and selling, affirms that the just-concluded election, is an improvement on the Edo 2020 electoral process.
“We therefore wish to commend INEC and other key stakeholders, especially the Nigerian Press, for ensuring substantial peace and credibility in Ondo 2020.
“We also like to admonish political actors and supporters to shun any act capable of discrediting and derailing the final outcome of the election.
“We wish to task the winner of this keenly-contested election to be magnanimous in victory by extending the olive branch to his fellow contestants in the interest of a united and stable Ondo State.”
NCFront said it deployed over 300 Observers to Ondo State after proper training and orientation to observe and provide real-time pre-election and post-election reports.
NCFront said in spite of the heavy downpour that almost marred the voting process, the electorate peacefully performed their franchise.
“The security agencies, especially the police, were fair and firm in discharging their duties, a conduct which was sustained throughout the entire process of counting, collation, transmission and announcement of the results.
“NCFront observers identified poor adherence to the laid-down guidelines of INEC on COVID-19 in most areas visited.
“There was also zero compliance to physical/social distancing guidelines,” the group said.
NCFront said that while 25 percent of the voters observed did not wear their face masks, others put them in their pockets and bags and some wore them on their chins.
The group, which commended the large voters turnout, applauded INEC logistics arrangement compared to the recent Edo State governorship election.
On voters inducement, the group said: “NCFront Situation Room received reports of vote buying from Ijomu, Akure South LGA, Ose, Ondo West, Ilaje, and Akure North.
“Across several polling units, the secrecy of the ballot was somewhat compromised in spite of attempts by polling officials to prevent voters and party agents from showing how ballot papers were marked.
“Some people were seen making signs and eye contacts. Law enforcement agents made no serious attempt to discourage this anomaly or to reprimand offenders.”
On the functionality of the Card Readers, NCFront said its observers reported overall improvement in the effectiveness of Smart Card Readers, saying, however, that voting was suspended in some areas where card readers malfunctioned.
According to the group, based on the challenges observed, NCFront, recommended peculiar mobility needs and facilities for people with disabilities in future elections.
“Sensitive materials such as braille should be provided for voters with visual impairment. There is an urgent need for an electoral reform that takes cognizance of electronic voting in the face of COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is the need for decentralisation of polling units within the wards to reduce the challenges of contracting COVID-19 and problems associated with overcrowding at the polling units.
“There is the need to break some polling units into Voting Points for ease of administration and crowd management during voting.”
It said that INEC should also extend the voting period in polling units where election commenced late due to late deployment of election materials and personnel and in the location where elections were delayed due to rainfall and other natural causes.
NCFront urged INEC to ensure transparency and openness on issues of cancellation of votes, provision of information and determination of the margin of lead in line with extant electoral laws.
The group suggested that accredited observers and journalists should be granted unrestrained access to observe the collation process, while security personnel should remain professional and non-partisan throughout the election.
NCFront added that INEC should henceforth investigate cases of election malfeasance and ensure the prosecution of electoral offenders.