Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms (CODER), a non-governmental organization, accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to monitor the recently concluded Edo State governorship election has released its report on the conduct of the election.
Recall, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Godwin Obaseki, won the election with 307,955 votes, while his closest challenger, Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) polled 223,619 votes. Obaseki won in 13 local government areas while Ize-Iyamu, won in five.
CODER had deployed 50 observers trained and duly accredited by INEC for the poll to oversee the activities of citizen observers across the 18 local government areas of the state.
In a report released on Monday, co-signed by its national coordinator, Mr. Temitope Shaba and spokesman, Comrade Ayodele Adewale, CODER said that though the pre-election measures taken through various initiatives to prevent violence appear effective in curbing the perceived and real violence that would have been rampant during the election, there were still pockets of violence including reported shooting of an INEC staff at RA 10, Unit 6 in Etsako Central.
According to CODER: “Various reports from groups that observed the election are being studied to determine the percentage of irregularities at the election and whether or not these infringements are at the scale to discredit the overall process.
“CODER’s observers deployed to various Local Government Areas recorded incidences of vote buying, intimidation of voters, shooting, ballot snatching, non-compliance with COVID 19 protocol by voters and incidence of incomplete ballot from INEC which almost led to serious chaos at one of the polling units in Oredo Local Government Area.
The report however, added that though the Edo election is better than the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections, it believes the off-cycle election presents the opportunity for key stakeholders especially INEC to deepen the democratic process.
CODER further advised INEC to focus on various electoral offenses documented by observers with offenders properly prosecuted even as it prepares for the Ondo State governorship election slated for October 10.
“Effective engagement of both local and international observer groups by INEC must also be prioritized for proper debriefing beyond observation reports submitted to the body that may not really be fully reviewed.
“Ondo State Governorship election is next. INEC needs to lead the process of making Ondo election better than Edo to increase the confidence of electorates in the electoral process and point a way forward for future elections in Nigeria,” CODER said.