…Int’l monitoring group scores exercise high despite apathy
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Strong indications have emerged that the All Progressives Congress, APC, may win all the slots of the Saturday, Local Government elections to elect Chairmanship and vice-chairmanship, as well as councilorship officers into 20 Local Government Areas, LGAs and 37 Local Council Development Areas, LCDAs, going by results from wards and council areas so far.
Though, the exercise, marred with apathy, hitches and pockets of violence, was adjudged to be generally peaceful across the state.
Security apparatus were adequately deployed across the polling areas in the metropolis to ensure safety of lives and property of citizens. They were seen moving in convoy patrolling some areas.
Commander of the Rapid Response Team, RRS, of the Lagos Police Command, Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, Yinka Egbeyemi, led a t of personnel to trouble prone areas to maintain peace.
LASIEC, had earlier stated that the results of the polls would be announced by the presiding officers at each polling unit and subsequently, the final results will be announced by it after collations across councils.
One of the early results received by Vanguard showed APC sweeping the votes in Iba LCDA. Ward E, pulling unit 022 update showed councilorship,
APC 93, APGA 1, PDP. 11
While chairmanship recorded APC 98, APGA 0, PDP 3, void 4.
Vanguard also gathered that the youngest council chairman, under the APC platform in Coker-Aguda LCDA, emerged winner with an emphatic result. Details of results were still been awaited as of press time.
Same reports of APC winning filtered in from such councils as; Oriade, Oshodi, Apapa, Ono, Amuwo-Odofin, Surulere, Agege, Alimosho, Ikeja, Ikoyi, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Ikorodu, Epe, Ipaja Mosan -Okunola, riverine areas in Badagry, among others.
Meantime, there was low turn out of voters in a contest with a total of 6,570,291 registered voters across 13,323 polling units in 20 LGAs and 37 LCDAs.
Vanguard gathered that on the final list of candidates for the election according to LASIEC on the eve of exercise, a total of 133 candidates will be contesting for the office of the Chairman with 131 Vice Chairmanship candidates.
Of the 133 candidates for the office for the Chairman, 16 are women and of the 131 Vice Chairman candidates, 106 are women. Indicating that the contesting parties fielded more women for the office of the Vice-Chairman.
While 15 parties are to contest in the election, it was observed that an average of three political parties was on the ballot papers for both the LGA/LCDA chairman and council election.
While experiencing some hitches in logistics, late opening and commencement of polls was a general observation across the state.
Specifically, Mushin, Ikoyi, Ikeja, Obalende, Amuwo-Odofin, Somolu, Surulere, among other LGAs, recorded late deployment of electoral materials.
It was observed that officials were still waiting to be deployed to their assigned polling units by 8:16 am. By 10:00 am, only 17 of the polling units visited in Mushin had polling officials present and were concluding set-up to commence accreditation and voting process.
However, in Ward C Surulere and in Lawanson, Mushin LGA, most of the Polling Units did not have security personnel on-site as of 11 am.
Additionally, a few security personnel were seen on the streets of Lagos state.
It was also discovered that majority of political parties did not deploy party agents to the polls: APC and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, agents were the only party agents seen in the majority of the polling units visited.
While other party agents were seen in few polling units.
No strict compliance with COVID-19 Protocol: Though, it was observed that the provision of hand sanitizers and handheld infrared thermometers across the polling units, there was no enforcement on the usage.
Polling officials and voters were not adhering to the COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical safety protocol and physical distancing.
There were reported cases of violence following violent disruption of the accreditation and voting process across polling units in Somolu LGA; this was caused by the confusion over the inclusion of a party name on the ballot.
The aggrieved party faulted the name printed on the ballot which had YP which is not one of the officially recognised political parties. In a few of the polling units, the YPP supporters protested the non-inclusion of their party on the ballot and asked voters to boycott the election.
Pre- exercise events
Recall that in the run up to the exercise, People With Disabilities, PWDs, under the aegis of Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, CCD, accused the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, LASIEC, of plans to exclude over 2 million of their members from actively participating in the Juiy 24, council polls in Lagos State.
Executive Director of CCD, Mr. David Anyaele, stated this on Thursday, at a public presentation of findings on the pre-election assessment of LASIEC provisions for PWDs for July 24, 2021 Local Government elections, held in Maryland, Onigbongbo Local Council Development Area, LCDA, Ikeja.
According to Anyaele: “We are worried that LASIEC has decided to exclude over 2 million PWDs in the July 24 council polls in Lagos.”
He added that despite series of petitions, “LASIEC has not complied with the provision of the law on inclusiveness of PWDs in the exercise.
“Our expectations with reference to election and voting process during the Covid-19 in the state, access should be provided for PWDs in the process and ensure no one is left behind in participating in the electoral process.
Also, an international election monitoring group, Yiaga Africa, on the eve of the exercise, stressed the need for LASIEC n ensuring free, fair and transparent exercise in order to boost citizens confidence in the council election process.
The group also expressed fears over possible apathy that could mar the exercise in view of the low sensitization of electorate.
However, in situation reports released by YIaga at the end of voting signed by
Mr. Eze Nwagwu and Cynthia Mbamalu, both Board members, observed that voters were intimidated, harassed/assaulted in a few polling units during accreditation and voting, in Ward B Badagry LGA.
According to Yiaga: “The findings presented in this statement are based on information received from the Watching The Vote, WTV observers on set-up, and the commencement of voting and accreditation at the polling units, Late opening of polls and deployment of polling materials:
“As of 8:30 am, Yiaga Africa WTV observers reported that no polling official was seen in 61 of the polling units visited.
“Polling officials were deployed as expected: Majority of the polling units visited had an average of 2 polling officials present as stated in the LASIEC election guideline.
“Election essential materials were adequately deployed: WTV tracked the presence of essential materials such as the register of voters, polling official stamp, voting cubicle, ink pad, ballot boxes, incident form and polling unit booklet in polling units.
“These materials and many more were seen in most of the polling units that were opened. However, the WTV observers reported that the majority of the Smart Card Readers were not fully charged.
“In addition, the reports indicate that the Smart Card Readers were not used in some of the polling units visited.
“WTV observers reported that voters were intimidated, harassed/assaulted in a few polling units during accreditation and voting, in Ward B Badagry LGA.
“Attack on WTV Observer: In PU 008, Ward B Badagry, an observer was beaten up for recording an attempt to snatch a ballot box by a party agent.”
In conclusion, YIaga Africa called on all political parties and candidates, LASIEC and security agencies to play their parts in ensuring a credible election.
“Yiaga Africa with her citizen observers is observing the election on behalf of the people of Lagos State and Nigeria, to ensure people’s votes are accurately counted,” Nwagwu stated.