By Chris Ochayi 01-12-2016
ABUJA – The Alliance for Credible Elections, ACE-Nigeria, has warned that vote buying and non payment of allowances to security agents deployed to man election duties constitute a threat to free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.
The ACE-Nigeria, while presenting the report of observation of the just concluded governorship election in Ondo State by its Acting General Secretary, Mma Odi, in Abuja, warned further that vote buying has the capacity to derail the nation’s hard earned democracy.
She said that there were incidences of votes buying by agents of politicians in many polling units across the state as observed by the ACE-Nigeria during the conduct of the poll.
The ACE-Nigeria, which deployed 92 observers and 8 supervisors that carried out the direct observation of the election, however awarded the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, a pass mark in conduct of the election.
She said, “The INEC staff displayed high level of professionalism at the polling units during the voting process, but thee was issue of lack of knowledge of procedure by the election officers especially the ad-hoc staff.
Besides, the group noted that the process leading to governorship election both by the judiciary, the outgoing Governor Olusegun Mimiko, the INEC and the presidency was geared to the advantage of the APC candidate, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu to the detriment of the PDP candidate. “From the foregoing we can confidently state that 2016 Ondo State governorship election was peaceful orderly but not credible.”
According to her, “Poor welfare condition of security agents deployed for the election duties is becoming a threat to free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria. ACE-Nigeria and partners are calling on police authorities to ensure henceforth timely payment of allowances of officers on election duty, and also to include vote buying as a critical issue of concern and build the capacity of its officers to handle it.
“We observed buying of votes by the political parties to induce voters to vote for their parties, the act of buying and selling of votes during elections is inimical to free, fair and credible elections and something urgent needs to be done to ensure those who emerge winners in an election are true reflection of the will of the people.
“In Akinremi Estate polling unit 001, Igoba/Isinnigbo, 005, Akure North local Government Area, and many other poling units across the state, attention of security agents were drawn to the issues of vote buying but they vehemently refused to address it.”
The ACE-Nigeria listed poling units that recorded votes buying as “Captured by some of our observers” include, Adegbeno Cam-polling unit Code 007, Owode Camp in Akure North LGA, polling unit code10,St.David’s Primary Scholl Ibule, Ifedore LGA, Akinnayayo, CSA Stores, Isilu Ehimpe Ward, Idanre LGA polling unit code 003, St. James Primary School Oda polling unit 005 Akure North and Ajipowo RCCG Junction 1, Gboki/Isikan 1 Ward, Akure South.
To this end, Odii declared that “Vote buying and selling is not a threat to free, fair and credible elections, it has the capacity to derail our march to consolidation of democracy in Nigeria”, recommending that “Political parties, their candidates, supporters and the citizens desist from vote buying and selling to avoid truncating our hard won democracy.”
The group concluded that, “Based on the observers feedback and in spite of the few cases of electoral malpractices, by political thugs, the election was violent free but could not be adjudged as total transparent.”