By: JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
A coalition of domestic and international election observers accredited to observe the July 14 governorship poll in Ekiti State said the election fell short of global best practices and electoral standards.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) , Kayode Fayemi, as the winner of the election.
The observers, who comprised representatives from over 50 domestic organisations, human rights groups and international election observer bodies, based their report on lapses noticed in the conduct of the election, especially the role of security agencies.
The observers include Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness, Nigeria; Justice and Equity Organisation, Nigeria; International Republican Institute, United States of America; and Patriotic Women Foundation, Abuja, as well as the other bodies from the African Unions, among others.
The observers, who praised INEC for the proper conduct of the poll in line with global and constitutional dictates and standards, faulted the deployment of 30,000 policemen for the election.
The observers stated that the conduct of some of the security operatives and unwholesome practices of vote buying — where voters surreptitiously showed which party they voted to party agents who went behind to settle them, largely marred the electoral process.
They also said the election was characterised by ballot box snatching, sporadic shootings and driving away of some party agents as well as intimidation, oppression and forceful influence of electorate’s free will, among others.
The observers, therefore, held that the July 14 poll could not be recommended as a template for the forthcoming 2019 general elections as it fell short of global standards and spelt doom.
Addressing newsmen on behalf of the domestic observers, Gabriel Nwambu, of the Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness, Abuja, said, “The exercise witnessed a high level of unprecedented electoral related challenges and such abuse will remain contentious until justice prevails, especially in the areas of cash inducement, arrests of political stalwarts by security agents and snatching of electoral materials by political thugs, among other abuses.
“Party agents had huge cash and were close to voting points. Security agents were indifferent to cash inducement of voters. The whole process falls short of the compliance with international best standards.”
One of the International observers, Mrs Virginia Marumoa-Gae, of the IRI, USA, said trouble began at 11 am when “see and buy” started and this caused chaos across all the wards and polling units.
“Voters showed their ballot papers to party agents to collect money, thugs disrupted the voting process by shooting, but the police and other attaching security agents did well by establishing their presence at the polling units as stipulated by the constitution. We also noted that the INEC has improved on card readers this time,” she submitted