In this statement on the Ekiti State election of July 14, the Nigerian Human Rights Community (NHRC) says vote-buying has no impact on the outcome.
The statement was signed by Dr. Taiwo Adeleye and Comrade Sola Ajayi, among others.
We have read so many reports, many of them accurate but there have also been inaccurate reports released to score cheap political gains.
We monitored the election. Many of us here were in Ekiti as monitors. We were in Ekiti two weeks before the election, gathering information and monitoring pre-election activities. It was easy for many of us to predict the outcome of the election even before INEC released the results on Sunday morning. We have gathered here to set the records straight and to present the issues the way they are in the most factual manner. We wish to make the following observations:
The turn out during the election is impressive. Ekiti has 842,731 registered voters. This number shortly before the election increased to about 900,000. This is quite commendable considering the total population of the entire state which is 2.7million people. Out of the figures, 667,064 PVCs were collected while 246,270 PCVs were not collected. There are 177 wards in 131 towns and villages located in 16 local governments. The number of voters represent about 65 percent of the voting age which is one of the highest in the country.
- That the security operatives performed above average. There were no incidences of police harassment, intimidation or human rights violations, prior or throughout the one day exercise. Even though 30,000 security operatives were posted to Ekiti state, their conducts and performances represent a remarkable improvement compared with 2014 when soldiers invaded Ekiti State, arrested the members of the All Progressives Party, (APC) and ensured many of them were not released until after the election.
- In comparative sense, there is tremendous improvement in security. We should not be quick to forget that in 2014, militants in military uniforms invaded Ekiti State under the guise of security operatives shooting indiscriminately across the state.
- We should not forget that the current governor elect, Dr Kayode Fayemi, in 2014, was shot at. The bullets hit an APC member who died on the spot. But this year, no single person was killed in Ekiti State. This is quite commendable.
- We wish to commend the conducts of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) for the exceptional ways they conducted the election. We observe the arrival of voting materials on time. The idea of allowing voters to be accredited and vote at the same time was remarkable. There were few cases of malfunctioning machines, but these were not significant.
- We commend the coverage of the election by the print and electronic media. There was a conscious attempt by the media to report in an objective and balanced manner. Though it was a local election, the presence of mainstream media from across the country was commendable. The aspirants largely had access to the mainstream media. The media also in many respects avoided sensationalism.
- However, we frown at the resort to manipulation of the state owned media by the government of Mr AyodeleFayose. It is an act of brazen violation of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) for the Broadcasting Corporation of Ekiti State (BSES) to be used to broadcast election results when INEC was yet to release the results to members of the public.
CONDUCT OF ELECTION
- There were instances of malfunctioning of the card reader. For instance at Ikere, the machine did not function when the PDP gubernatorial candidate wanted to vote. It took the intervention of INEC official, a woman at the polling booth who gave preferential treatment to Prof. Olusola Eleka, before he could vote.
- To a large extent, the election was free and fair. It reflected the free will of the people of Ekiti State. To this end, Dr Kayode Fayemi won the election convincingly. It is trite and a clear resort to blackmail to lay claim that the election was rigged in favour of any particular candidate.
CORRUPTION AND VOTE-BUYING
- We wish to put this in historical context. Some of us who participated in the various elections, since 1999 till date, observe a new culture of bribery and corruption in the electoral system. But this is not new. It is wrong to now uphold this development as being largely responsible for the outcome of the July 14 election.
- The reality is that it did not start today. It has been part of the problems confronting Nigeria since independence. For instance political parties are found of buying food essentials for traditional rulers and community leaders ahead of election. This has been standard practice which is quite unfortunate.
- However, in 1999, there were no significant cases of bribe-for-vote across the country compared to what we have today.
- In Ekiti, workers were paid 3000 naira on the eve of the election as bribe so that they could vote for the state government favoured candidate. This is a well-known fact. The state government also paid 7,000 naira each to pensioners on the eve of the July 14 election. The cash paid was not listed as part of their legal entitlement but as inducement to ensure they voted for the PDP. There can be no clearer evidence of election malpractices than this.
- Under the Ekiti State administration, manipulation of elections through cash inducement is a directive through the framework of STOMACH INFRASTRUCTURE.
- We state here that Fayemi won the July 14 election convincingly. It is share blackmail to continue to lay claim that the election was manipulated.
The state government, apart from paying cash to workers and pensioners, was using the state controlled public radio and television to canvass for votes against the principles of equal access and corporate responsibility.
- Our monitors also discovered the setting up of phantom election monitors by the state government. These monitors were given fake identities and protected by some security officials at the prompting of the state government.
- This fraudulent group has been making false claims that the election was rigged in favour of Fayemi while, in actual fact, they worked as proxy for the state government.
The NHRC wishes to recommend the following:
- Political parties should adopt direct primaries. This will enable mass participation of party members in the selection of candidates for the various elective positions.
- That to eliminate corruption in the electoral system, ballot boxes should be kept far away from voters so that the decision of each voter will be known only to the voter.
- That Federal Government should demonstrate political will to implement the recommendations of the Justice Uwais Panel which recommended Electoral Tribunals for election offenders.
- Ekiti needs more polling booths. In many instances voters had to be transported for over 4 kilometers before they could vote.