Edo Guber: INEC Has Shown Capacity-CTA

The Center for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) has commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over its handling of the Edo Governorship elections just as it declared that the Commission has shown the capacity for the incremental improvement in the management of elections in Nigeria.

In a preliminary statement on the observation of the Edo State gubernatorial elections the CTA stated that “the Edo state Gubernatorial election, one of the Of-season elections in Nigeria’s electoral calendar held today September 19th 2020. The election was preceded by decamping of the incumbent Governor to the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the emergence of the former candidate pf the PDP in the last Gubernatorial election as the candidate of the All Progressive congress (APC). That was the climax of the intra-party and acrimony between Adams Oshiomole, the former APC National Chairman who was the former Governor of Edo state and the incumbent Governor Godwin Obaseki.

“The pre-election period was therefore characterized by intemperate comments by both sides and spate of violence which generated tensions and fears that the elections might be marred by violence.
It was against the backdrop that the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) trained and deployed 40 roving observers and 180 observers to the field covering the entire state, this preliminary statement therefore is our initial observation on the conduct of the election.

The group noted that “report from field Observers have been summarized under the following headings- Time of arrival of INEC Officials and materials
From the average from our observers deployed to the field, INEC Officials and materials on the average arrived between 8.30 and 9am even though there were few exceptions in some places where INEC Officials and materials arrived earlier.

The CTA pointed out that “Time of commencement of accreditation and voting. Most of the report from our observers indicated that on the average voter accreditation and voting commenced around 9am. This is without prejudice to the few exceptions where voter accreditation and voting started earlier than 9am.

Performance/Conduct of INEC Officials.

“We note with satisfaction, the tremendous improvement in the performance of INEC officials during this election. Our observers witnessed INEC Officials briefing voters on voting procedures and Covid-19 protocols. Observers also noted the cooperation extended to election observers
We also commend the INEC Adhoc staff in the preference given to Nursing mothers, pregnant women, the Elderly and PWDs in line with extant electoral regulations.

On Time of arrival and Conduct of Security Agents the group noted that “reports from our observers in the field indicated that they met security agents on ground in most of the polling units covered. Security officials present in most of the polling unit include officers and men of the Nigeria Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps {NSCDC). Outside the voting points, we also observe the presence of armed men of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and men of the Nigeria Army and Department of State Services (DSS) at Checkpoints.

“We however note the case of some overzealous security agents as reported by CTA observers who while on their way to Owan West LGA, reported being stopped at a checkpoint at Ozalla by Army officers and forced to turn back that observers were not allowed into the area.
Generally, reports as of the time of this statement indicate that the Police and other security agencies were professional in their conduct.
Voter turnout

While reports indicated a cautious turnout of voters in the early part of the day, our observers reported a gradual but improved voter turnout as the day progressed. Voter turnout was generally impressive especially against the backdrop of the fear of electoral violence given the intemperate and charged exchanges and attacks between the two main contending political parties in the state.
Conduct of Political Parties/Voters (Vote buying and vote selling)
A major source of concern in terms of voters’ conduct was the lack of adherence to the Covid-19 protocols despite all the efforts of INEC Officials. Reports indicate that in most of the polling units, voters refused to observe social distancing and in many refused to put on their face mask despite the best efforts of INEC officials though they were not allowed to vote without their masks. After voting, they quickly removed them.

The CTA stated that “reports indicate that the NCDC Response Team were available in some areas specifically, the NCDC Response Team were sighted in Abudu in Orhionwon LG, Ehor in Uhunwonde LG and in Ipoba in Okha-Aduwawa LG.
Observers in some units reported incidents of vote buying and discussions among voters about being paid or not being paid. The sincerity of purpose of the political class to contribute to the sustenance of our democracy is again called to question by these reports.

“The art of vote buying rather than disappearing has assumed the character of anonymity. The political class it appears have further perfected the art and strategy of discrete vote buying.

“As we continue to observe the process of collation of results from this election, we note that INEC has shown the capacity for the incremental improvement in the management of elections in Nigeria. However, we call on all stakeholders to continue to maintain law and order and in particular, act in compliance with the provisions of the Electoral act and watch the conclusion of the process. The police must guarantee the protection of lives and properties especially observers” it added.

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