The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has said that last Saturday’s governorship election was marred by vote buying and other operational lapses that needed to be corrected.
Director of the centre Idayat Hassan said in a statement that the Independent Electoral National Commission (INEC) have in their own way delivered the elections even if marred by challenges of late opening and card reader malfunctioning.
While saying that the INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu had in October assured Nigerians that his team has put in place measures to ensure a hitch-free election in Anambra, she however said that there were obvious discrepancies between what was promised and what was delivered.
“The realities of the election have been far from promises made by the commission as challenges of late opening of polls, malfunctioning of card reader, flagrant vote buying and selling, and complaints of ad-hoc officials’ welfare mar a much-anticipated election. The election witnessed a late opening of polls, with polls opening averagely between 9 and 11am as against the stipulated 8am. This lateness was not unlinked to late deployment of election materials.
“Contrary to INEC’s promise that smart card readers will function optimally and that there would be no recourse to manual accreditation or use of incidence form, for the umpteenth time, the smart card reader malfunctioned. In some of the poling units we observed, the smart card readers failed to capture fingerprints of voters and instead manual accreditation was deployed. “For instance, at ward 1, polling units 002, 003, 004, at All Saints Primary School Onitsha, voters were delayed for accreditation over failure of the card readers. Same was the case at Bishop Patterson Junior Seminary Mbosi Ward 20, Polling unit 004, polling unit 003, Ubuluisiozor, Ihiala LGA, polling unit 003 St Peters Ogidi and several others,” Hassan said.
She said that elements of operational lapses started manifesting on Friday, a day to election, with some ad-hoc staff, already trained for the elections could not ascertain where they were posted to as their names were not on the INEC list.
“Information gathered from our observers revealed that INEC did not paste the final list until the eve of the Election Day. This incident generated lots of speculations that the names of trained ad-hoc staff may have been replaced overnight. For example, corps members at the Nkpor Registration Area Centre in Idemili North Local Government insisted they be paid their feeding allowance before setting out for the day’s business. INEC has however tried to blame it on the attitude of the corps members, saying some refused to go where they were posted,” she said.
On the vote buying and selling otherwise known as ‘Stomach Infrastructure’, she lamented that the place of money in Nigeria politics again reared its head during the election as agents of different political parties were sighted openly distributing food and cash gifts at polling booths to sway voters’ supports.
She said, “Our observers witnessed agents of the ruling APGA, APC and the PDP either giving cash or cooked food as gifts to voters. In some cases, voters handed over their voter cards for money. However, the incident of vote selling assumed a different dimension in this election as some voters demanded for enticements before casting their votes for parties. Some of these cases occurred at Nnewi Ichi ward, Polling Unit 003, Polling Unit 008 Umudioka Primary School Awkuzu ward 2 and some others. Our observers also captured a video of inducement at Umuenem, Otolo Ward 2, Nnewi North LGA and these were available on YouTube.”