The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), on Saturday scored the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) high in the conduct of the Ekiti Governorship election.
Prof. Shola Omotola, Member, Centre for Democracy and Development Election Analysis Centre (CDD -EAC) and Professor of Political Science, Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, made this known in CDD’s second preliminary statement in Abuja.
Presenting the preliminary report to newsmen, Omotola said that the conduct of the election by INEC was a significant improvement on previous elections.
He said that the general atmosphere of the elections was peaceful and INEC officials arrived early for the conduct of the election.
“CDD-EAC observer reports showed that by 8:30 am, 64 per cent of polling units visited had opened, and between 8:30 am and 9:30 am, another 29 per cent had opened.
“The data indicate that 93 per cent of the Polling Units in the areas observed had started voting by 9:30 am.
“The CDD-EAC data point to a high usage of the BVAS, with 88 per cent of polling units visited reporting effective usage.
“Although there were hitches in very few locations, where our observers noted that some voters could not be accredited, the CDD-EAC observers rated the efficiency of the BVAS as either “very good or excellent.”
He added that in the 31 reported cases where the BVAS malfunctioned, 71 per cent of those cases were resolved within an hour.
“On the average therefore, CDD-EAC data indicated that it took around 2.4 minutes for voters to be processed through the BVAS.
“In 45 per cent of the cases, voters were accredited in two minutes or less, while in 87 per cent of the cases each voter was accredited within four minutes.”
Omotola said that the CDD-EAC observers reported a worrisome situation in which some voters were allowed to cast their ballot without being authenticated by the BVAS.
He said that the group also observed that INEC tried to provide assistive materials like braille, magnifying glasses for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs).
He said that 24.2 per cent of some polling units were not accessible to voters with disabilities, while only 24.1 per cent of polling units visited made provision for visually impaired voters by providing braille ballot guides and magnifying glasses.
Omotola said that CDD-EAC observers documented 41 instances of vote buying and selling at Polling Units.
He said that one of the observable patterns of vote buying was the collection of cash in brown envelopes, which was apparently meant to disguise the content of the envelopes in order to avoid arrest by the anti-corruption agencies.
He, however, said that CDD-EAC commended the arrest of some political actors who were alleged to be involved in vote buying in the course of the election.
Omotola said that the CDD-EAC Fake News Hub tracked and fact-checked a number of fake news and misinformation trending on Election Day.
“A major trending item was the purported withdrawal letter of the SDP candidate, Segun Oni, and his endorsement of the PDP candidate, which circulated across social media.
“Another claim on Twitter was that 9 million voters were expected to vote in the Ekiti 2022 gubernatorial election.
“This claim was checked by CDD-EAC fact checkers, who returned a verdict of “false” for the claim as there are 988,923 voters registered by INEC for the Ekiti Governorship election.”
Omotola said that another fake news was tracked relating to claims that in Ido/Osi, soldiers were preventing voters from going to their polling units which was verified to be false among others.
IMPROVE ON BVAS INNOVATION
A socio-cultural group, the Ladies of Substance, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to improve on the innovation of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to ensure it performs optimally during the 2023 elections.
The group Team Lead, Mrs Mojisola Akinbohun, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Ado-Ekiti, that it would make future elections in Nigeria to be credible.
Akinbohun said that the use of BVAS for Ekiti election showed a significant improvement over the previous elections.
“This is a great opportunity for INEC to showcase its preparedness for the 2023 general elections with the test of functionality and effectiveness of the BVAS.
“I commend INEC for its quick response to resolving all challenges observed during the election in Ekiti,” she said.
Akinbohun said that the group had deployed its members to monitor the election across some local government areas for independent monitoring.
She said that there were tremendous improvements in the timely arrivals of election materials to the polling units as well as responses to any issue raised by the electorate.
The team lead said the group, however, observed cases of vote buying during the election, adding that it remains a monster in the electoral system in the country, which must be checked.
Akinbohun commended the electorate that shunned and resisted attempts and temptations to sell their votes to political agents during the election in the state.
She also lauded the security for their presence, which ensure utmost calm and peace within and around the polling units and some local governments visited by the group.
The team lead said the group observed that there was an impressive turnout across the council areas the group monitored.
She commended the people of Ekiti for their maturity, especially for putting behind the string of violence and not entertaining fears against early predictions that the election might be marred by violence.
CSOS THUMB UP FOR INEC
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) has rated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) high interms of logistics and commencement of voting in Saturday’s Ekiti State governorship election.
It stated this in an interim report jointly signed by the Convener, Ms Ene Obi; Co-conveners Ms Asma’u Joda and Mr James Ugochukwu on Saturday in Ado-Ekiti.
The Situation Room is made up of over 70 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent election in Nigeria.
It stated that the Situation Room observed early arrival of poll officials and election materials in 93 per cent of the polling units observed.
“Set up was done promptly and polls commenced before 9:00a.m.,in at least 88 per cent of the locations.
“This is an improvement of both the Anambra State Governorship Election 2021 and FCT Area Councils Election 2022,” it said.
The situation room said that as at the time of issuing the release, the election had been generally peaceful, with voters conducting themselves in a civil manner in most of the polling units.
“The redistribution of voters done by INEC still does not take care of the issue of large number of voters in some polling units as many new polling units had abysmally low numbers while older polling units remain overcrowded.
“There were also polling units sited in private residences such as PU006 Omiragunsin’s House, Okemesi Ward 1, Ekiti West LGA and PU003 in front of Ezekiel’s House Iroro/Ita Alafia Iroro Imegun, Ward 3 Araromi Omuo, Ekiti East LGA,” the situation room stated.
On the performance of Bi-Modal Verification Accreditation System (BVAS), the Situation Room said that observations indicated the BVAS was functional in at least 76 per cent of the voting locations.
The situation room however, said, that there had been many reports of delays and malfunctioning of BVAS machines in voting units especially those with many registered voters.
It cited examples of the locations where the machines malfunctioned to include PU 002 Igbaletere by Mechanic Workshop, Ward 6 Ado Okeyinmi, Ado-Ekiti LGA where the Machine was going on and off intermittently.
The situation room added that at PU 007 LA Primary School Oke Afin, Otun Ward III and PU018 Igogo Ward II both in Moba LGA, the BVAS failed, as well as at PU 014, Ward I Okemesi, Ekiti West LGA, among others.
“Furthermore, INEC’s distribution of the BVAS devices was not proportionate to the population of registered voters by polling unit.
“The Situation Room stated that poll officials gave priority to Persons With Disabilities (PWD) voters, elderly persons and pregnant women in most of the polling units observed.
“However, citizens refused to recognise people with albinism as persons with disabilities (PWDs), thereby failed to accord them special consideration at the polling units. Also, voting cubicles were not easily accessible to PWDs,” it said
The situation room added that there were reports of widespread vote buying by political party agents across the 16 Local Government Areas of the state.
“In many instances, voters were induced with money ranging from N4,500 to N10,000 by asking them to flag completed ballot papers as proof of voting in the specified manner in what they term See and Buy.
“Situation Room strongly condemns this blatant violation of the electoral law.”
On presence, conduct and welfare of security officials, the Situation Room said that security officials deployed for the election were diverse and cut across the police, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) etc.
It observed that security officials arrived at polling units on time and were civil in their conduct.
“However, the impact of their presence was not felt in voters’ coordination at most of the polling units.
“Also, the police failed to halt the apparent vote buying witnessed by observers in virtually all the polling units.”
The situation room called on the people of Ekiti State to continue to conduct themselves in a peaceful and responsible manner.
“We wish to remind the police authorities of their responsibilities to halt and apprehend those involved in voters’ inducement and maintain law and order throughout the process and beyond.
“Situation Room calls on INEC to ensure that the on-going process is concluded transparently and credibly.”
VOTERS COMMEND INEC
Voters have commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for hitch-free conduct of the Saturday’s Ekiti State governorship election.
A cross section of those who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ado-Ekiti on Saturday also lauded the peaceful conduct of the election.
A 70 year- old visually impaired voter, Mr Peter Adebayo, who voted at 017 polling unit in Basiri Ward 10, Ado-Ekiti expressed joy that the election went well and the people with Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) were accorded priority.
Adebayo said that although he was expected to vote unguided, but he was told braille guide was not made available at his pulling unit.
“I’m not disappointed because they told us that is no accurate data where they deployed the braille guide. There are some polling units now that are not being in used.
“After this election, I will be among those who will let INEC know where to deploy the braille guide in the future,” he said.
Adebayo said that he came out to vote because it was his civic right to do that in spite his health condition.
“Also I came out to vote because I need to contribute my quota in the running of government,” he said.
Also 90-year- old Mrs Asake Atogi, who voted at PU 001, Ward 01, Iyin Ekiti, Ifelodun/ Irepodun said that she came out to vote at 7 a.m and she was attended to immediately.
Atogi said that she deemed it fit to vote because she wanted the state to develop.
She urged all residents to maintain peace.
Mr Olawadare Olawale, an 84 year-old man who voted at PU 011, ward 5, located front of Oluri Compound, Igede 1, commended INEC for given priority to elderly people.
Olawale said that he got to the PU at 8.10am and he was allowed to vote within 30 minutes.
“Here they allowed the aged, nursing mothers and pregnant women to vote first.
“The voting process is free and fair without any challenge. The BVAS is working and the ad hoc officers are performing their duty.”
Olawale advised residents of the state to continue to conduct their themselves peaceful irrespective of the outcome of the poll.
Mrs Beatrice Olowoyan, a 70 year-old- woman said that the election was peaceful and commended INEC for not allowing the elderly to suffer in the course of voting.
“I am one of the person that canvased to people to come out to vote.
I also participated in the voting because of my children, so that if anyone of them is contesting in the future people will not say that they did not know his parent.
Meanwhile, the NAN reports that the operation of BVAS function was without hitches in most of polling units visited.
In Iyin-Ekiti, PU 001, Ward 011, Bada Compound, Irepodun/ Ifelodun (Iyin II) with 698 registered voters, the Presiding Officer, Mr Onne Christian, said that the only BVAS deployed to the centre performed optimally.
In polling unit 12 ward 05 located at Oisaye House Igede 1, Irepodun/Ifelodun, the Presiding Officer, Mr Oyebode Sule, said that the BVAS for 392 registered voters worked well.
Also, Mr Opara David, the Presiding Officer at PU011, Ward 05, at in front of Oluri Compound, Igede1 and Mr Akande Olarenwaju at PU 014, in front Obale Compound, Iyin II Ward 11 both confirmed that the BVAS worked well.
BAMIDELE, OLUJIMI LAUD INEC ON BVAS
Two serving Senators representing Ekiti in the Senate have urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) to improve on the newly introduced Bimodal Voters Authentication System (BIVAS) in the conduct of future elections.
They are Sen. Opeyemi Bamidele, representing Ekiti Central Senatorial District on the platform of APC, who is also the Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters and Sen. Abiodun Olujimi, Ekiti South Central on the platform of PDP.
In his remarks, Bamidele spoke with newsmen in Iyin-Ekiti, his hometown in Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government area, after voting at Ward ‘B’ Unit 003.
Bamidele said there was need for the new technological innovation to encompass all facets of electoral process, including accreditation, voting and electronic transfer of votes.
The APC senator said that electronic transfer of votes would not only improve the poll credibility, but would also stamp out the fears of people in tampering with results at the collation centres after election.
He lauded the security arrangements and massive turnout of voters across the state.
According to him, the upsurge in the number of voters substantiated that Nigeria is now having a remarkable improvement in the conduct of elections.
“With BVAS, there is no fear of anybody tampering with the accreditation process and that is the beauty of democracy.
“So, the the next stage for INEC is having electronic transfer of votes.
“With this, nobody will have any fear of interception at the collation centres and that will add to the integrity of our election.
“From the reports I heard from the start of the voting, it has been a peaceful process. We owe it a duty to collectively protect the integrity of this process.
“All of us are bothered with the kind of tension in towns before this election, but I am personally happy for the way it has turned out peacefully,” Bamidele said.
Commenting, Olujimi expressed delight at the turnout of events in Ekiti governorship election, particularly at the large turn out of voters, describing the process as peaceful and heartwarming.
Addressing newsmen, shortly after casting her vote at Ward 7, Unit 7, Iworo Quarters in Omuo-Ekiti, Olujimi said: “The turnout was huge.
“For the first time, nobody is struggling to snatch ballot boxes, maybe because of voters’ education or our experiences in the last House of Assembly re-run election where we lost three lives or maybe the politicians now know that they have to mobilise to win.
“This time, politicians know that there is no short cut; you just have to mobilise. I have been here since morning and the BVAS has not stopped for once. People are now better informed and they have turned out en masse to vote.
“Kudos to INEC, the security men are almost half of the voters, maybe because of our past experiences too. But none of them intimidated voters, they are just doing their jobs.
“INEC has really stepped up its acts; if the situation in my unit is what it is elsewhere, the BVAS has not stopped working and it has made voting very smooth,” Olujimi said.