The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), an accredited foreign observer group to the 2019 general elections has commended the Nigerian voters for trooping out en masse to cast their ballots during the Presidential and National Assembly polls.
WANEP’s co-Chair, Bar. Aisha Abdullahi, said the exercise was peaceful generally, but marred by isolated cases of violent fracas, irregularities and other acts of electoral malpractice in some states. She spoke during the maiden Election Day press conference in Abuja.
Bar. Aisha, said WANEP deployed 114 Election Observers to take stock of the voting process in the 36 states of the the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)-Abuja using the Arc GIS technology that was developed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
“Our observers noted the commencement of voting on time in most polling stations across the country. However, observers reported late opening of polls in several stations due to late arrival of polling officials and materials.
“In some cases, as at 10:00 am, materials were yet to be distributed to areas such as Gwagwalada Area Council of FCT and Mashi LGA of Katsina State.
“In an isolated case, the absence of security personnel at Shehu Manzo ward of Gombe LGA, Gombe State, resulted in delay of the commencement of polls. Card readers were not functioning appropriately in some stations visited for example, in Ward 4, PU 002 at St. Jonathan in Ondo State, and also Yardole Kasuwa area of Kebbi State, but the technicians addressed the situation. Concerns abound over the disenfranchisement of eligible voters due to technical issues experienced with the use of card readers.
“Meanwhile, our observers witnessed the inducement of voters in Kumbotso LGA of Kano State and Konshika LGA of Benue State, where voters were reportedly seen receiving money from party stalwarts to vote their preferred candidates.
“Also, key violent incidents reported include shooting in Ayimgba, Dekina LGA of Kogi State. There was fighting in Ward 18 Khana, Port Harcourt, Rivers State following alleged snatching of voting materials,” she added.
On the voting process, the WANEP co-chair, said their observers noted moderate voter turnout, orderliness and compliance of voting procedures by polling officials in most polling stations visited.
She also added that voting materials were reported to be sufficient in most polling stations, while ballot papers were insufficient for the number of registered voters in some polling stations. Aisha Abdullahi, further said that in Borno, Yobe, Lagos, Kogi, Always Ibom, Rivers, Zamfara and Delta, WANEP’s observers on field reported 31 major incidences of electoral violence and malpractice.
She listed the incidents to include ballot box snatching, multiple bomb explosions, intimidation of voters, abduction of polling officials, destruction of election materials, and shooting of a 35-year old man by military men of 223 Brigade Command, in Yobe State, among others.
She pointed out that WANEP condemned the violent activities reported and called on security agencies to reinforce security in affected areas and other areas to forestall a recurrence in the Governorship and State House of Assembly polls.
“It is pertinent for candidates and their political parties to abide by the Peace Accord they signed. They should also refrain from inflammatory statements or publication of results and all acts that are capable of instigating mayhem as we await the official announcement of results by INEC,” Bar. Aisha appealed.