As a member of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, we were in Ekiti state with other members of the coalition to observe the election. Aspilos Foundation was deployed to Ekiti-West senatorial district alongside 2 other organisations and we visited 18 polling units across Okemesi, Ipole, Iddo-Ile, Aramoko, Ikogosi, Erijiyan and Erio Ekiti. Asides the 18 polling units that we visited and interacted with voters, security personnel and INEC staff, we cursorily observed several others. We collated our report backed with images and presented to the rest of the Situation Room. This alongside with reports from other members that observed in other locations was used to put togther the statement below. Any statement from any other civil society coalition should be disregarded, this is the official statement of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room.
INTERIM STATEMENT BY NIGERIA CIVIL SOCIETY SITUATION ROOM ON THE EKITI STATE GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION HELD ON SATURDAY 14 JULY 2018- Issued: 09:00 am, Sunday 15 July 2018
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room observed the July 14 2018 Governorshipelection in Ekiti State and received field reports from its deployed observers and other partners and election observer networks.
Opening, Accreditation & Voting
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room received reports of the early setting-up and opening of polls in most of the Polling Units observed in Ekiti State. There was an early turnout of voters in most parts of the State as a good number of voters queued up well ahead of the opening of polls. Accreditation and voting went on very well, although there werecomplaints and issues recorded with the Smart Card Readers in some polling units. The process of accreditation and voting was relatively slow due to the challenge of authentication of fingerprints by the card readers. However the process was mostly peaceful across several Polling Units as most voters conducted themselves in an orderly manner. Polling officials largely conducted the elections in a very professional manner, evidencing good management andtraining and were more effective in discharging their duties compared to past elections. Priority voting was well coordinated for elderly persons and pregnant and nursing mothers. While progress may have been made, it is important to point out that access to Polling Units remains a challenge forpersons with disabilities (PWDs).
Conduct of Security Personnel
The deployment of security personnel, including the police, for the elections was largely well organised. Most Polling Units had good numbers of security personnel attending to them. The police and security personnel across the Polling Units conducted themselves professionally and contributed to the peaceful conduct of the election. There was however, heavy military patrol within the State. Several of the security agencies including the Prisons Service,Customs, Immigration, State Security Services, Federal Road Safety Commission, etc, were mobilized for the elections, in ways that raised concern, that they may intimidate voters and reduce turn out.
Situation Room observed widespread financial inducement and vote buying in and aroundseveral of the Polling Units. In some cases the location and positioning of the polling booths and ballot boxes contributed to the non-secrecy of the ballot and vote buying. The major political parties were very much culpable in this breach. The widespread nature and brazenness of vote buying by political parties and candidates create a dent on the outcome of any election and raise concern that Nigeria’s electoral process is being monetized with impunity.
Collation of results
Sorting and counting went very well; in a few isolated cases there was restiveness at the Polling Units as a result of arguments over invalid ballot papers.
- Situation Room commends the people of Ekiti State for coming out to vote in the elections and for conducting themselves peacefully, despite the apprehension that preceded the election due to the actions of some individuals and institutions, including fears of over-policing.
- Situation Room also commends the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the noticeable improvement in the conduct of the elections. However, we call on INEC to improve on access to polling units for Persons Living With Disabilities, the elderly, pregnant women and nursing mothers. We also call on INEC to improve on the secrecy of the balloting process as a means of addressing vote buying. INEC is also advised to improve on the functionality and processing time of the Smart Card Reader ahead of the 2019 elections.
- Situation Room commends the Nigeria Police for the improved conduct of its personnel during the elections. We call on the police to be proactive in the enforcement of the provisions of the Electoral Act to reduce violations of the law, especially vote buying.
- While we recognize the security challenges in the country, the situation room continues to question the heavy military deployment and involvement in elections. We also note the broad composition of the security agencies in the election and are worried about such developments when Nigeria should be working towards a more civil security approach to elections.
- The worrying trend of vote buying escalated to desperate levels, with the major political parties sharing blames. This trend portends grave danger to Nigeria’s democracy, as it undermines the responsibility of citizens to freely choose their leaders and threatens the essence of democracy. Vote buying represents a major setback to the gains made with Nigeria’s electoral process and denies Citizens the power to hold elected official accountable and responsive to the needs and aspirations of Nigerians. Vote buying is also a threat to the emergence of women as elected representatives with the increasing cost of electoral politics.
- Situation Room calls for urgent legislative action and law enforcement to tackle the challenge of vote buying in Nigeria’s elections.
- Situation Room calls on citizens of Ekiti State to remain peaceful and urges all persons aggrieved with the outcome of the election to follow the legal process in seeking remedies.
Clement Nwankwo, Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) and Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room.
The Situation Room is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria and includes such groups as Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD),Enough is Enough Nigeria, Wangonet, Partners for Electoral Reform, JDPC, Proactive Gender Initiative and Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), CWAE, NISD. Others are Development Dynamics, Human Rights Monitor, Election Monitor, Reclaim Naija, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Alliance for Credible Election (ACE), CITAD, Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN), CISLAC, WREP, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Aspilos Foundation and several other CSOs numbering more than Seventy.
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