…suffer mild election tension, violence
There was tension and violence in about five per cent of the polling units monitored during the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections on Saturday, a coalition of over 80 human rights organisations under the aegis of the Nigerian Civil Situation Room has observed.
The organisation however noted early deployment of election officials and materials across the country, with many states deploying election officials and materials to the RACs on time.
The NCSSR said its network of observers reported that election officials arrived at about 8:30am in 80 per cent of polling units visited, while accreditation of voters began at 8:30am in about 67 per cent of polling units observed.
The conveners of the NCSSR: Ene Obi, Asma’u Joda and James Ugochukwu, through the coalition, made these observations in its interim statement obtained by journalists in Abuja.
The statement read, “Election security: At the time of this report, the Situation Room observed tension in about five per cent of polling units. Sources of these tensions include destruction of election materials, disruption of materials distribution, arguments and quarrels between party agents and fighting among party supporters.
“Specifically, in Polling Unit 009, Nto Edio 3 Ward, in Obot Akara LGA of Akwa Ibom State, ballot boxes were destroyed by aggrieved political party members.
“Also, in Aluchi Ward, Nasarawa Eggon LGA of Nasarawa State, thugs destroyed materials at the distribution centre, thereby disrupting the distribution of materials. The Situation Room is particularly concerned by reports that in some communities in Lagos State, there are traditional festivals coinciding with the election day, which could discourage voter turnout and increase tensions.
“Situation Room observed the presence of security personnel in 82 per cent of polling units monitored. The Situation Room also observed security personnel intervening to quell some of the tensions in the polling units and commends this intervention while advocating for vigilance and action against incidents of vote buying,” it remarked further.
Continuing, the group stressed, “Vote-Buying: The Situation Room observed vote-buying in eight per cent of polling units visited. In some of the polling units, party agents were asking voters to show who they voted for. There are also reports of voter inducement through sharing of money and food items, as well as collection of bank account details of voters. For example, in Polling Unit 008, Ward 5, Onitsha North LGA of Anambra State, party agents were seen collecting account numbers of voters.
“Also, in Polling Unit 002, Bakin Kasuwa, Utai Ward in Wudil LGA of Kano State, party agents were seen sharing fabrics and wrappers to voters. This incident was also observed in Polling Unit 022, Nguru Ward, Nguru LGA of Yobe State. Incidents of vote-buying have been escalated by the Situation Room to the police,” it disclosed.
It maintained, “The Situation Room has observed a low voter turnout. There is expectation that voter turnout would improve, as the election progresses. We call on election observers, the media and the general public to continue to be vigilant and report incidents to the Situation Room using our contact details.”
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