By Emmanuel Elebeke & Glory Odizuru
Civil Society Organizations on Monday passed a vote of no confidence on the just concluded Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections and called on President Buhari to show leadership in redeeming the sanctity of the ballot from what they called ‘gunpoint democracy’.
The group operating under the auspices of Centre for Democracy Development, CDD and Election Analysis Centre (EAC) made the call while briefing the press on the outcome of the Bayelsa and Kogi elections at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
In the report read by the Executive Director of CDD, Hassan Idayat, the group said the sheer magnitude of the violent assault on the sanctity of the ballot was shocking beyond description, insisting that the outcome of the process was so criminally subverted and should not be allowed to stand.
The report she said recorded the deaths of 10 people in various shooting incidents and attacks across Kogi State alone, while CDD EAC accredited nonpartisan observers, including trained roving journalists, reported over 79 critical incidents also in Kogi State off-cycle governorship and the rerun Senatorial elections.
The report reads in part: ‘‘On November 16 in Kogi and Bayelsa States, the very foundation of our 20-year-old democratic order came under a grievous assault. Enthusiastic citizens, including men, women, youth, and People with Disabilities (PWDs) who trooped out to vote for candidates of their choice were left absolutely disappointed. ‘‘Many voters were disenfranchised as a result of constant threats to life and limb throughout the process. Elections that would have to enable everyday citizens to express their democratic preferences were violently and crudely undermined by an unrelenting band of partisan outlaws.
‘‘At the CDD Election Analysis Centre (EAC) in Kogi and Bayelsa from where we received field data and updates on the conduct of the polls, the sheer magnitude of the violent assault on the sanctity of the ballot was shocking beyond description. The outcome of a process that was so criminally subverted should not be allowed to stand.
‘‘These incidents combined to damage the credibility of the polls. The incidents ranged from hijack of electoral materials by thugs, kidnap of INEC ad hoc staff, vote-buying, attacks on observers, intimidation of voters and under-aged voting. Other reported incidents, which call to question the credibility of these polls include widespread stuffing of ballot boxes, ballot snatching, and multiple voting. The level of malpractices in these elections was pervasive as reported by our CDD EAC observers on the ground.
‘‘Our observers reveal that violence and disruption of voting constituted 66.21 percent of the total reported incidents. Vote trading which was also widespread across the state constituted 28.38% of total reported malfeasance while under-aged/multiple voting constituted 5.41% of total incidents reported.’’
The group, however, called on all electoral stakeholders in the two states to remain calm, and not despair, urging that, ‘‘Collectively, we must work on behalf of the country to reclaim our electoral system from the grip of the partisan outlaws.’’