Participants at the Assessment Town hall on use of investigative tools to fight corruption

UpRight4Nigeria: Leveraging on Investigative Tools to Mobilize Young People Against Corruption

The rocky state of Nigeria’s democracy can rightly be attributed to corruption within our institutions and systems. From the lowest levels of society to private and public institutions involving every individual regardless of social, economic or political class. This has called for a greater involvement and intentional efforts of corruption stakeholders both state and non-state actors, especially young anti-corruption change agents and activists.  YIAGA AFRICA overtime have remained invested in promoting transparency, good governance, building community of experts that can support government institutions and demand for accountability thereby contributing to curbing the menace of corruption in Nigeria so as to allow national development to thrive.

In June 2019, YIAGA AFRICA’s Strengthening Citizens Resistance Against the Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP-C) project trained media and civil societies on Evidence Based Reporting of Corruption in Enugu State Nigeria as a way to improve their skills and technical knowhow in identifying, reporting and employing tools available to them to cause considerable and measurable change. Since impact must be measurable, on 25 November, 2019 YIAGA AFRICA’s Accountability and Social Justice team led by its Program Officer Tracy Keshi carried out an Impact Assessment workshop in Enugu State aimed at collating verifiable evidences from youth groups who reported corruption in the state using the investigative tools learnt from the youth capacity training on evidence based reporting of corruption which held in June. This stems from the fact that in other to correctly fight against corruption, documentation is of the essence. Beneficiaries shared reports on events implemented while utilizing knowledge gained such as writing Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, conducting social audits, and advocacy from the Evidence Based Reporting training which was documented by the Research/M&E Personnel Ezekiel Onu.

During the focus group discussion on their successes and challenges, these youth groups made up of Civil Society and Media provided documentations of their results, challenges, lessons learnt and opportunities foreseen. From small issues such as the lack of provision of toilets by landlords in slum houses, dilapidated infrastructure in a health institution to large scale issues in the power sector. ‘I formed collaborations with other CSO’s like Follow The Money, ActionAid and Media outlets’ said one of the participant.

Focus Group Discussion on the use of investigative tools to track corruption

 Another outstanding impact story is how one group has created anti-corruption policies within their organisation which other organisations are now adopting and how another is ensuring a fixed term in the leadership of his religious organisation. The media participants present expatiated on the innovative initiatives they are creating such as engaging episodes; radio show on ongoing corruption campaigns, whistle blowing, Persons With Disability and their connection to corruption, amplifying anti-corruption efforts of other youth groups on social media platforms such as Twitter especially now with Nigeria’s heated scenery of the #SayNoToSocialMediaBill while others are providing free platforms for their cohorts of anti-corruption change agents to reach a larger audience and create more impact. One of the challenges highlighted by these media groups is that most anti-corruption change agents working on key issues are not media friendly and have not been able to key in to these platforms hence the need to build capacity in this area.

In other to create synergy, help find solutions to challenges, bank in on available opportunities and expand on the successes already achieved, YIAGA AFRICA again on 26 November 2019 held a workshop for the establishment of SCRAP-C Support System to enable these young people channel their strengths as a team and deepen their accountability efforts in their various localities.

During the discussion with participants on the road map for building the Support System, Tracy Keshi encouraged the participants to run the Support Groups as their initiatives, hence the groups are tasked with deciding on the timeline of activities which includes mapping of stakeholders, meetings, and anti-corruption reporting structure. These anti-corruption change agents were grouped into three urban local governments (Enugu East, Enugu North and Enugu South) according to their local government of residence.

Drawing from the need for expertise in concise storytelling as it can aid their anti-corruption efforts, YIAGA AFRICA’s Media and Communications personnel Ovinuchi Ejiohuo concluded the workshop with a session on Storytelling for Social Impact. Going forward, YIAGA AFRICA remains committed in building strong institutions through capacity building so that all will be equipped to stand against corruption and stand #Upright4Nigeria.

Tumininu Adeeko, Research assistant and passionate advocate of women inclusion in politics

16DaysOfActivism: Gender-Based Violence Against Women in Nigerian Politics – Tumininu Adeeko

The recent atrocious murder of a women leader of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi State Mrs. Salome Abuh is another dreadful reminder that Gender-Based Violence (GBV) has eaten deep into the fabrics of our society.

In a world where inclusion seems to be the new phrase for ‘what a man can do, a woman can equally do or do better’, it pathetically does not reflect in Mrs. Salome’s case, as she lost her life in some sort of mayhem, posterior to the announcement of the governorship result in Kogi state and it is nothing but a gender targeted violence.

Women more than ever before are known to pay a higher price for their political participation than men, regardless, burning a woman to death should never have been the last resort. These politically-active women —voters, political party card carrying members, candidates, and etcetera, oftentimes find themselves at the receiving end.

Truth is, a political life may not be easy for everyone, but it poses to be more challenging for women globally. Many a time, women have been discouraged from participating in politics as it is considered not suitable for them. This is not just political marginalization but political exclusion for women. In a moment of misfortune, the level of violence, hostility, and psychological abuse directed towards women who refuse to adhere to warnings, by participating actively in elections is usually brutal—from being beaten, harassed or abused, to being burnt alive, which in the aftermath, is crowned with no access to justice.

A while back, Cecilia Ezeilo, Enugu state deputy governor also raised her voice on gender-based violence saying political violence is the major factor militating against women political participation. According to her: Continuous political violence is the major hurdle faced by women in politics and this has been designed by their perpetrators to scare women away from politics.” While it is understandable that some factors like political mis-orientation, discriminatory socio-cultural belief have been a probable menace, gender-based violence should be tackled  as mental abuse is equally unacceptable as physical abuse.

Every Nigerian woman has the guaranteed right to participate actively in politics, regardless of the political party she belongs. Therefore, no woman should be regarded as a second-class citizen whose only duty is in “the other room” and not the board room where political decisions are being made.

Women participation in politics is vitally important because nothing beats inclusive politics as it results in real gains for democratic societies. Only a woman would champion policies that benefits women, children and families- such as maternal mortality and even girl child education like no one else can.

With continuous failure in administration of justice especially in cases of gender-based violence, the case of Mrs. Abuh will unfortunately continue to thrive in the face of injustice. A government that cares for her people and in particular, the vulnerable ones like women would make efforts that would serve as deterrent measures to ensure any practices that discriminate against women participation in politics are subdued and the evil-doers are dealt with

There is need to bridge the gender gap that exists between men and women in politics. If a study could show that global wealth would increase by having women who could earn same lifetime earnings as men, far more would a politics that addresses bullying, harassment, historical abuse or violence against women in politics promote democratic governance.

In the world of politics, gender should play no factor and it should never be a determining factor because if it is, the potential of women in politics would continue to be squandered. As a nation and as a people we cannot exclude women from political participation and think we can prosper in the things of democracy. Today being one of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), I raise my voice to say if all creatures are God-given, so are women. Again I join the rest of the world to say no to violence against women.

Tumininu is a Research Assistant at YIAGA AFRICA.

She is a passionate advocate of promoting women’s rights and inclusion in political participation.

She tweets @TumininuAdeeko

Moshood Isah (1)

How INEC and Police Flout Warning Signals Before Kogi Election Debacle – Moshood Isah

It is neither coincidence nor conspiracy that negative reviews have trailed the just concluded Governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states. It is also no fluke that election observers like YIAGA AFRICA, Situation Room, and Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) are speaking in one voice, condemning the complicity in the conduct of the Governorship election in the states, especially in Kogi State.

The Bayelsa and Kogi Governorship Elections is expected to provide an opportunity for all election stakeholders especially the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigerian Police and Political parties to improve on the conduct of the February general elections. Unfortunately, the process was blighted by several complicities, which undermined its standard in virtually all ramifications. It is even more sad that all election stakeholders, especially INEC and the Nigerian police, saw this coming as there were available warning signals of voter inducement and electoral violence. Few weeks before the Governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states, an article underscoring early warning signals of violence and voter inducement was published along with myriad of other concerns raised by election stakeholders. The concerns were either met with assurances or neglected.

It can be recalled vividly when YIAGA AFRICA released its pre-election observation report raising concerns of distribution of gift items and purchase of Permanent Voters Card (PVC) for as low as N500. Reacting to this, the head of voter education and publicity in Bayelsa, Wilfred Ifogah said the commission doesn’t monitor salt and rice sharing. According him, even before the vote-buying syndrome, they used to give out commodities such as salt, rice and other things during campaign. Maybe, that is what they are doing right now that YIAGA AFRICA is calling voter inducement. “INEC does not track such things”.  While the electoral law is clear about vote buying and selling on election day within certain meters of the polling units, INEC and other security agencies did not take any proactive measure to curb what ended up becoming a rampant transaction on election day.

Similarly, the report on  recruitment of thugs and stockpiling of arms was widespread all over communication platforms and its almost impossible to imagine the security agencies didn’t take heed to this critical warning signals before it escalated. It is even more ominous that  despite the setting ablaze of a political party office and attack on a female candidate contesting in the election during the stakeholder meeting in Kogi, at the full glare of Police Chiefs, security apparatus didn’t prepare to curtail the impending violence in the state.

Just two days to the Governorship election in both states, YIAGA AFRICA hosted both the Public Relations Officers of both  Police and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSDCDC) on its weekly program to discuss election security ahead of the polls.  As we expected, security agencies gave all the assurances left in this world saying at least 35,000 Police officers have been deployed to Kogi State with over 10,000 NSCDC personnel to support. Security officials appeared on various fora and meetings ahead of the election to continue boosting electoral officials’ confidence on the safety of personnel and materials while also assuring citizens safety of their lives and properties. One of such meeting was the early warning scan organized by Search for Common Ground; another Civil Society Organization who observed early warning signals before the elections. At the meeting, stakeholders including journalists raised major security concerns, which was met by assurance by the police chief at the event saying the police force is embarking on visibility policing to track any unwanted that may want to disrupt the process. Assurances upon assurances was what the citizens got from security agencies before elections but it’s so unfortunate that the police service commission claim the force was overstretched to manage just two state elections.

In the words of YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote Board Chair, Dr Hussaini Abdu “the unacceptable vote procurement (vote buying) and violence perpetrated by the systematically recruited and prepared party officials and thugs were carried out under the full glare of the almost nonchalant security officials. They acted helplessly as if they were under instruction not to respond to the situation, if not already prepared to support the brigandage.”

The challenges in Kogi state 2019 gubernatorial elections squally lies on the role and failures of security agencies, the police in particular, political parties, the major candidates and their state and non-state accomplices. These stakeholders deliberately worked to undermine the election. They appeared to be more concerned about electoral victory than the credibility and legitimacy of the process.

Until the law and those that implement it have the guts to shame and prosecute culprits of electoral complicity, Nigeria may just begin to give up on its electoral democracy. While waiting for stakeholders charged with the responsibility of conducting a free, fair, credible and peaceful elections to take responsibility, there is further need for the executive and legislative to expedite necessary actions on electoral reforms.

Moshood Isah

Media Officer of YIAGA AFRICA

He tweets @moshoodpm

Olabisi Malik was part of YIAGA AFRICA’s election observation mission in Kogi state

Bayelsa/Kogi Polls: Reversing Trend of Electoral Travesty- Olabisi Malik

The just concluded November 16 governorship election in Kogi and Bayelsa states are expected to provide an opportunity to improve on the 2019 general elections but unfortunately they are providing a pointer to the infamous 2007 general elections. The 2007 poll was adjudged by  domestic and international observation mission as one “that fell short of basic international and regional standards for democratic elections and cannot be regarded as credible, free and fair”.  The  elections were deeply flawed due to poor organization, lack of transparency, widespread procedural irregularities, significant evidence of fraud, particularly during the result collation process, voter disenfranchisement at different stages of the process and lack of equal conditions for contestants.”

It is shameful that twelve years after, the same description is used by both International and domestic observers to describe the Kogi and Bayelsa 2019 governorship elections. It can be recalled that about a year ago, during President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2018 Easter message to citizens, he mentioned that “the dark days of Nigeria’s elections being manipulated by violence and rigging by corrupt politicians and their agents are over. They are confined to the dustbin of history where they rightly belong. I remain committed to bequeathing a legacy of supremacy of the people’s will through the ballot box”.

In reality, the Presidents’ statement seem to be words embellished with mere rhetoric – probably uttered with good intentions but are obviously without any substance of truth. We need to understand that an election is a stakeholders’ affair, it is only legitimized when the electorates are provided with mechanisms that allow them to freely choose who governs them. It is the desire of Nigerians that our election process are drenched with all the variants of integrity and fairness, however, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Security agencies and the political parties, unfortunately, did not pass the minimum quotient of integrity in the elections.

To Nigeria and her watches, the November 2019 governorship elections presented an opportunity for INEC to redeem her image, but unfortunately, the commission fell short of the citizen’s expectations. INEC is saddle with the constitutional responsibility of conducting free and fair elections in Nigeria, but there is a regression in the quality of elections held since 2015 – with the 2019 election shabbily conducted and ended with many petitions.

Elections are a cogent part of the people’s fundamental Human rights, more specifically civil and political rights, and a pillar of democratic societies. Citizens elect their leaders or representatives, and these elected officials are accountable to the citizens who elected them to that office of power. However, the show of shame displayed by  political parties during the just concluded elections raises the question if the public office is to serve the people or to enrich the pockets of the ones called to serve. The polls were replete with ballot box snatching, destruction of electoral materials, voter suppression, arson, maiming, all orchestrated by armed thugs.

For instance, over six people were killed in Lokoja, Dekina, and Ayetoro, Kogi state while in Bayelsa state, armed thugs were imported from outside the state with a mission to  harass, beat, and coerce innocent citizens who came out to lawfully exercise their franchise. Journalists, local and international observers were not left out of the assault. All these infractions on the fundamental rights of citizens were carried out in the full glare of the security agents.

The men of the security agencies whose duty is to protect citizens either scampered for safety or collaborated with the armed thugs and their paymasters. Several videos and reports were circulating the social spaces showing uniform men carting away ballot boxes. Alas, It is crucial to point out that there is no report of a single arrest made during the chaotic elections.

The politicians have now perfected their citizen-mandate-stealing through violence and the deployment of thugs to disrupt voting process oblivious of the fact that the process through which an elected leader emerges determines his or her legitimacy.  The case where politicians muscled their way to power through illegitimate means does not uphold the tenet of true and liberal democracy. The just-concluded elections have also provided explanations for the insecurity the country has experienced over the years.  The thugs armed by the politicians are often the ones who resort to armed robbery, kidnapping and other vices when there are no elections to steal.

The activities experienced and reported in the Kogi and Bayelsa election speaks’ for itself, just so aptly put by a famous Latin phrase, Res Ipsa Loquitor, “the fact speaks for itself” – these facts speak so loud and clear. INEC must do the needful as advised by different observer groups who observed the election process in both states, in other to redeem the confidence of citizens in the commission.  The two dominant parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC) should note that Nigerians are watching.  They are on the path of truncating the most extended period of uninterrupted democracy the country has ever experienced.  History will not judge them well, and Nigerians will hold them to account some day soon.

Olabisi Malik was part of YIAGA AFRICA’s election observation mission in Kogi state

Chisom Anaduaka Program Intern at YIAGA AFRICA Center for legislative engagement

How Political Class Undermine Citizens Freedom – Chisom Anaduaka

Recent development in Nigeria has continued to show that Nigeria’s political elites have remained bent on undermining any form of freedom the ordinary citizens have in determining how the nation is run. From the elections in Kogi which successfully denied citizens freedom to freely determine their leaders to the social media bill which seek to restrict free speech, Nigerians have been continuously relegated to the background in the affairs that affect their lives. Evaluation of these developments make one  to begin to wonder if those that are supposed to hold the tenets of the Nigerian constitution where fundamental human rights and freedom are boldly enshrined are on the verge of capitulating to their own whims and ego.

A gentle reminder by Black’s Law Online Dictionary shows that freedom is the state of being free; liberty; self-determination; absence of restraint; the opposite of slavery. The power of acting in the character of a moral personality, according to the dictates of the will, without other checks, hinderance or prohibition than such as may be imposed by just and necessary laws and the duties of social life. The prevalence in the government and the constitution of a country, of such a system of laws and institutions as secure civil liberty to the individual citizens.

From the forgoing definition, one begins to question the level of freedom Nigerians are currently having to do as little as exercising their civic duties without coming at a cost.  There is also no gainsaying that various sections of the Nigerian constitution has preserve certain freedom  which include, but not limited to, Right to Life, Right to Dignity of Human Persons, Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion, Right to Freedom Of Expression And The Press, Right to Peaceful Assembly And Association, Right to freedom of Movement, etc. Despite the fact these ‘freedoms’ have been stated and regarded as enforceable rights, they are still being limited, constrained and even breached by those who are meant to implement and protect against violation.

A typical instance is the just concluded Kogi and Bayelsa elections which has raised more questions than answers as regards citizens freedom of expression and thus have kept people asking whether we are truly operating a democratic system as gunshots, killings and ballot snatching were the order of the day especially in Kogi State. As a matter of fact, the pre-election environment has already provided early warning signals of violence which in itself has hindered citizens freedom to vote and be voted for, due to fear of their lives. If citizens are reluctant to cast their votes due to the fear of being killed or harassed at polling units because of their party affiliations, where then is our Right to Freedom of Association?

The recent news of the death of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) women’s leader of Wada Aro Campaign Council, Ochadamu Ward Kogi, Mrs Acheju Abu who was burnt down to death in her apartment for exercising her right of freedom of association which is an abuse or rather a slap to the provisions of the constitution which is the grund norm of the society. It is even unfortunate that these offenders still walk the streets freely without any form of prosecution. This is not to talk about the various complicity in the just concluded elections which in many ways hindered citizens from exercising their franchise.

While limiting citizens freedom to express themselves as enshrined in section 39 of the constitution, the recent development in the National Assembly to criminalise what they describe as hate speech has further added salt to an already sour wound. The Bill which  proposes the death penalty for any statement intended to demean or brutalize another or the use of cruel and derogatory language on the basis of real or alleged membership in a social group, has passed second reading.

What comes to mind here is: on what basis can someone judge the statement of another? Where there is a literal meaning, there is also the intended meaning of the speaker. There cannot be any clear-cut definition of the so-called hate speech and it can be used as propaganda in the hands of a party against an opposition party. Thus, this will further legitimize the desperate effort of the political class to subdue its agitating citizens. We are in a country where people do not want to argue with paramilitary officers for fear of being arrested even though no crime has been committed.

This is a clarion call for the government to ensure that the provisions of the Chapter Four of the 1999 Constitution are ultimately guaranteed; let us be truly free as defined in the second paragraph of this article.

Chisom is a Program Intern at YIAGA AFRICA’s Center for Legislative Engagement

Townhall Oyo

YIAGA AFRICA Partners Oyo Assembly on Citizens-Driven Legislative Agenda

The Oyo State House of Assembly in partnership with YIAGA AFRICA organized a town hall on the development of a Citizen Driven Legislative Agenda. The town hall aimed at getting feedbacks from the constituency and giving opportunity to the constituency to contribute to the development of the 9th State Assembly Legislative Agenda.

In the welcome address at the town hall, the Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin stated although legislative agenda was not a popular practice, especially in Oyo State, it was the best way to give direction to the legislature.

“Although the state has a four-cardinal programme, which includes Security, Education, Agriculture and Health, we want the people of the state to contribute towards what they will like to see and the kind of laws they want the Assembly to develop. The meeting is meant to collect and aggregate people’s contributions towards good legislature in the state,” Ogundoyin said.

In addition, Dr. Ernest Ereke, Coordinator YIAGA AFRICA Centre for Legislative Engagement said, the development of the legislative agenda by the Assembly will encourage youths and other stakeholders’ participation in the law-making process and other activities within four (4) years of the legislative engagements of the 9th Assembly.

He said the town hall meeting was the initiative of the Assembly and YIAGA AFRICA is proud to be providing technical support. “The Assembly wants to give itself agenda that will guide its activities in the next three years or thereabout. In developing the legislative agenda, the Assembly thought that it would perform better if it had the contributions of the citizens,” Dr. Ereke stated.

Hon. Ayotunde Olajide Fatokun, Chairman, Parliamentary Council, highlighted the achievements of the 9th Assembly and their influence on the executive to embark on some projects, such as, road/bridge amendment, renovation of public schools and the purchase of new security vehicles. In his goodwill message, Hon. Babatunde Oduyoye, Special Adviser to the Governor on Political matters, assured the Legislature and citizens that the executive arm of government will give the Assembly all the support to ensure that the Legislative Agenda is launched and implemented.

The town hall had in attendance 32 Honourable members from the State House of Assembly, Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, Attorney General, Commissioner of Youth and Sport, Deputy Clerk of the State House of Assembly, CSOs, Non- Indigenes and 3 representatives each from the 33 Local Government Areas.

Prior to the town hall, YIAGA AFRICA had deployed enumerators in all the local governments in Oyo state to find out from people what they actually want from the lawmakers. The organization’s coordinator, Dr. Ereke mentioned that this was aimed at getting as much opinions as possible that would fit into the legislative agenda.

During the interactive session with constituents, Prof. Shola Omotola, YIAGA AFRICA, presented a paper on “Enhancing Democratic Accountability through Citizen Participation in Legislative Agenda”. He mentioned the rights of the citizen and one of which is their input to the legislative agenda. He encouraged the citizens to constantly interface with the legislature. The representatives from the 33 Local Governments expressed their needs and the expectations they have for the 9th Assembly. They stated the challenges faced and asked the assembly for interventions.

See more pictures below.

WTV Board members addressing a press conference on Kogi Governorship elections

YIAGA AFRICA Process Statement 2019 Kogi Governorship Election

Download Statement Below

YIAGA AFRICA Process Statement 2019 Kogi Governorship Election

Introduction

Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives us great pleasure to welcome you to YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV) Statement on the conduct of the Governorship and Kogi West Senatorial District election. YIAGA AFRICA deployed a total of 548 observers for the Kogi elections with 500 polling unit observers deployed to 250 sampled polling units. Polling unit observers provided reports on the conduct of the election day process from the opening of polls to the posting of results at the polling unit level. The WTV Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) data revealed that INEC officials had arrived at 52% of the sampled polling units by 7:30 am, with accreditation and voting commencing in 79% of the sampled polling units by 9am with essential electoral materials like the smart card reader present in 98% of polling units. While the PVT data demonstrated the commencement of polls in the state, the situational analysis of the process highlighted major infractions that had significant potential of impacting the credibility of the process.

This statement on the conduct of the elections is based on WTV observation of the processes of accreditation, voting, and the counting and posting of results. This statement represents a culmination of our findings from the pre-election environment through election day and highlights critical incidents observed that threaten the credibility of the elections.

YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!”. Employing the PVT methodology – the gold standard for citizen observation – WTV deployed 500 stationary observers in pairs to a representative statistical sample of 250 polling units, and 27 mobile observers located in all 21 local government areas (LGAs) of Kogi state. WTV also deployed 21 collation centre observers to each of the LGA collation centres.

YIAGA AFRICA implemented its WTV observation to provide citizens, candidates, political parties and INEC with independent, accurate and timely information that reflects the ballots cast at polling units for the Kogi gubernatorial election and Kogi West senatorial election.

 

Pre-election Observation Findings

In line with YIAGA AFRICA’s commitment to electoral integrity through citizen oversight of the electoral process, WTV deployed a pre-election observation (PREO) mission in Kogi in all 21 LGAs over a period of eight weeks. The WTV PREO highlights certain findings that are consistent with emerging trends that threaten the conduct of a peaceful and credible election in Kogi. Major findings highlighted include:

  1. Political Campaigns and Rallies Marred by Violence: Political campaigns and rallies in Kogi were marred with brigandage, assault and violence. Observers reported violent physical attacks at rallies/meetings or campaign events across the LGAs with specific reports of intimidation of candidates/supporters in Ankpa, Dekina, Idah and Ofu LGAs.
  2. Stockpiling of Arms, Ammunition and Recruitment of Political Thugs: WTV highlighted the worrisome trend of easy access and stockpile of small arms and light weapons and the active recruitment of thugs in the state. WTV expressed concern about the possible impact of this stockpiling and recruitment on the conduct of peaceful elections in the state, especially given the lack of response by security agencies before the elections.
  3. Money Politics and Abuse of Electoral Laws: The PREO findings indicated a trend of voter inducement, including the purchase of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and voter information details. WTV observed political parties moving from house to house in Ankpa LGA to document names, polling unit numbers and addresses of citizens with PVCs, offering advance payments of five hundred naira (N500) and gift items such as vehicles in several communities ahead of the election. The campaigns were a contest between the highest bidders and the trend projected a possible overbearing influence of money in the election due to the level of vote buying, community collusion and electoral thugs bargaining.
  4. Status of Election Administration and Preparations: while the pre-election report indicated the early commencement of activities by INEC, the question on early and effective deployment of materials and personnel was a concern in the pre-election phase. The findings from WTV’s monitoring revealed the reasonable compliance of INEC with the elections timetable as indicated in the conduct of preparatory activities such as recruitment and training of ad-hoc staff, stakeholder engagements and voter education amongst others, in preparations for the November 16 polls. Of important note is the role the courts played in the election, especially with the last-minute judgements that impacted on elections operations and logistics management. The conflicting nature of those judgments delivered by courts of coordinate jurisdiction complicated INEC’s preparations for the elections.

 

Summary of Election Day Findings

On election day, YIAGA Africa received and confirmed a total of 69 incident reports from its WTV observers. Critical incident reports capture instances that could undermine the integrity of the electoral process. Majority of the incidents observed on election day include: snatching or stuffing of ballot boxes, vote buying/bribery and accreditation of people without using card readers each recorded in over 10 polling units.

The most serious of the critical incidents reported include;

  1. Intimidation or harassment of voters and polling officials: WTV recorded intimidation and harassment of voters, observers and polling officials by unknown armed men and party agents of some identified political parties. These cases were reported in:  PU 017 Ward 12 and PU 027, Ayingba Etiaga Ward Dekina LGA, PU 001 Ward C Lokoja LGA, Ojuwo Junction Market Square, Ankpa; Lokoja (PU 001, Ward C), Ofu (PU 005, Ugwalawo ward), Ankpa (Ojokwu ward 3) and Igalamela/Odolu (PU 022, ward 08) LGA. WTV observers were beaten and their observation checklists destroyed. and, then the process, degenerated to sporadic shooting in PU 027, Ayingba Etiaga, Dekina LGA. YIAGA AFRICA also received reports of intimidation of journalists and election observer groups like Inclusive Friends, Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room and Search for Common Ground in the full glare of security agencies who made no effort to forestall or reprimand the political thugs.
  2. Ballot box snatching/stuffing: Election infarction, including snatching and stuffing of ballot boxes and papers were reported and confirm in:  PU 006 Anyigba ward, Dekina LGA, ASUTA WARD, AYETORO GBEDE UNIT II HIGH COURT PU, 005,  Odolu Ajaka ward 1, 22/08/07/015, Oganaji LGEA Primary School, Anyigba Dekina, PU 008 (WTV Sampled PU) OLAMABORO WARD 3 CEREMONIAL SQUARE, PU 003 Ukwo Ward 01 OLUBUN PU, ASUTA WARD, PU 003, Obaji Ward 1, Kogi K. K LGA, PU001, Ejule/Alla Ward, Ofu LGA, PU001, Ogaki Ward 06, PU-002,Aiyetoro Gbede, PU-003,Ilemo Mopamuro, PU-004,Lokoja
  3. Vote buying/bribery: YIAGA AFRICA received reports on vote suppression manifested in the form of denying voters access to polling units by political thugs. This was prevalent in: At Aluaja, Iyano Ward in Ibaji LGA, Lagazi/Fam Center ward which has about 5 Polling units situated closely, LEA Primary Atsagba and Central Primary School gboloko, PU 005, AGOR,  PU 006, Ward 01 Ediya – North, Ajaokuta LGA, PU 010, Ward 01, Ankpa Township ward, PU001 Ugwoda Ward, Idah LGA, PU007 Itale II, Iyano Ward, Ibaji LGA, PU009, Ward 03 Kogi KK, PU-01,Odole 1 Mopamuro, WARD 007 UNIT 5 IN ISANLU, YAGBA EAST, ward 08, PU 01 Isanlu, Yagba East, Ward- 10 Nadazi farm centre PU 003, PU-005 Ward-Lokoja B,
  4. Accreditation of people without using Card Reader: Aiyekpele 1 and 2. PU 022/08/08/002. Aipkele 1 and 2 Open space, Ajaka Ward 2 Igalamela/Odolu, AT THE PU ATI-AJA, 2, PU 027 AYINGBA, Barrak 2 PU 002, Adumudume Dekina, GRA CML Primary school, Anyigba Dekina, PU 009 IN ANYINGBA COMMERCIAL SECONDARY SCHOOL, PU 004, Ugwolawo Ward 1, 05, PU 005 Ward-Deregu, Ganadga Ajaokuta, PU 005 Ugwulawo Ward 10, Ofu LGA, SAMPLED P.U, Ward-Odo Egbe 2 PU-005,Egbe Yagba West
  5. Violence and Attack on Observer Groups. WTV observers were unable to observe election day processes due to issues of violence in or near the polling units in Dekina, Ankpa, Okene, Lokoja and Ibaji LGAs.

The critical incidents reported highlight some of the key challenges associated with the conduct of Kogi 2019 governorship and senatorial election.

Findings on the Election Process

YIAGA AFRICA observed that security officials and election day materials deployed late, resulting in polling units opening late. As at 7:30 am, YIAGA AFRICA WTV observers reported that INEC officials had arrived at 52% of polling units.

In addition, YIAGA AFRICA condemned the violence and brigandage in some polling units resulting in disruption of voting. YIAGA AFRICA called on INEC to cancel elections in those polling units where there were cases of snatching of ballot papers/boxes, violence, and disruption of the polling.

In the spirit of transparency, YIAGA AFRICA called on INEC to make public the list of polling units where elections are canceled. YIAGA also called on security agencies to ensure adequate security was provided to voters and INEC in order to complete the process of voting, results collation and declaration.

Accreditation and Voting Processes

YIAGA AFRICA observed accreditation, voting, and counting at polling units in all 21 LGAs. YIAGA AFRICA’s updated findings are based on reports from 233 of 250 sampled polling units.

  • At 83% of polling units the card reader functioned throughout the day.
  • At 91% of polling units every potential voter’s fingers were checked for indelible ink before being permitted to vote.
  • At 92% of polling units every potential voter’s permanent voter card (PVC) was checked by the card reader. At 95% of polling units every potential voter’s PVC was checked against the register of voters. At 97% of polling units no one was accredited to vote who did not have a PVC.
  • At 92% of polling units every potential voter’s fingerprints were checked by the card reader.
  • 91% of polling units the voting cubicles were set up so no one could see how the voters marked their ballot papers. However, at 15% of polling units it was possible to see how a voter’s ballot paper was marked when it was put in the ballot box.
  • At 98% of polling units indelible ink was applied to the cuticle of a finger of every accredited voter.
  • During accreditation and voting, at 17% of polling units voters crowded the polling officials, at 11% of polling units there were attempts by people to influence the polling officials,
  • 25% of polling units completed accreditation and voting by the designated time of 2:00pm while by 3:00pm 79% of polling units had completed accreditation and voting.

Counting

  • At 97% of polling units polling officials showed how every ballot paper was marked to everyone present.
  • At 94% of polling units an APC polling agent signed the official results form (EC.8A).
  • At 83% of polling units a PDP polling agent signed the official results form (EC.8A).
  • At 47% of polling units a SDP polling agent signed the official results form (EC.8A).
  • At 9% of polling units polling official recounted the ballot papers.
  • At 89% of polling units the official results were posted for the public to see.

 

Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, YIAGA AFRICA’s data, based on two months of reports from our citizen observers, exposes serious shortcomings in the pre-election period, the election day environment and, to a lesser extent, in the conduct of the polls themselves. These issues seriously compromise the credibility of the Kogi gubernatorial and senatorial polls.

While we recognize it is the sole responsibility of INEC to conduct elections and ensure their credibility and acceptability, it is important to state clearly that there are other stakeholders whose roles are equally important in determining the credibility of elections – security agencies, political parties and their related recruits and candidates. To a great extent, the attitudes, actions and dispositions of these stakeholders could make or mar the credibility of any election.

On this particular election, while we believe, there has been significant improvement in the conduct of elections in the country, especially in INEC’s conduct and processes, we note some drawbacks in election logistics management, quality of election personnel; integrity and transparency of the results collation. The challenges in Kogi state 2019 gubernatorial elections squally lies on the role and failures of security agencies, the police in particular, political parties, the major candidates and their state and non-state accomplices. These stakeholders deliberately worked to undermine the election. They appeared to be more concerned about electoral victory than the credibility and legitimacy of the process. The unacceptable vote procurement (vote buying) and violence perpetrated by the systematically recruited and prepared party officials and thugs were carried out under the full glare of the almost nonchalant security officials. They acted helplessly as if they were under instruction not to respond to the situation, if not already prepared to support the brigandage.

Political parties failed to contest these elections according to the democratic rules of the game and instead vied for elected office based on buying votes rather than speaking to issues, manipulating the courts for political advantage, and compromising the political environment to prevent political competition. While it is political parties that have undermined the pre-election and election day environment thereby undermining the fundamental rights of voters of Kogi state to fully and freely participate in all aspects of the electoral process, it is the security agencies that have failed to maintain public order and to bring to book those responsible for electoral offenses and it is the courts that have entertained the shenanigans of political party petitions designed only to limit political competition. While INEC, like the people of Kogi state, is itself a victim of the actions of political parties, the security agencies and the courts, once again INEC failed to put in place sufficient safeguards and operational practices to ensure the elections could be conducted despite these perennial challenges.

These elections took place against the backdrop of the 2019 general elections, those elections did not meet the expectations of many Nigerians and were a missed opportunity to enhance public confidence in the country’s electoral institutions. Kogi governorship and senatorial elections, as well as the Bayelsa gubernatorial election held on the same day, provided an opportunity of all election stakeholders to change Nigeria’s electoral trajectory.

Instead, the people of Kogi have not been given the opportunity to fully exercise their right to vote. As a result, the results of these elections, regardless of the outcome cannot be said to reflect the preferences of voters in Kogi. In such a circumstance, YIAGA AFRICA calls upon INEC to conduct a thorough investigation of the conduct of the Kogi governorship and senatorial elections and to conduct a new election that gives voters a genuine opportunity to exercise their right to vote. Perpetrators of violence and their sponsors should be arrested and prosecuted. Consistent with our own protocols and international best practice, YIAGA AFRICA will not release its PVT results data as the PVT estimates cannot reflect the preferences of Kogi voters because the political parties, security agencies and the courts compromised the credibility of the Kogi governorship and senatorial elections.

We are deeply worried and concerned about this emerging trend in electoral manipulation and the deepening culture of impunity. Failure to institutionally and decisively act could undermine our democracy. Our politicians, political parties and security agencies have become important threats to our democracy and we must work to hold them to account. The Nigerian political class should be recognized as such and place in the right plinth for interrogations, increased engagement and be exposed for local and international sanction.

Despite the serious failings of the Kogi gubernatorial and senatorial elections, YIAGA AFRICA wants to thank those voters who went to the polls despite the myriad of challenges. We would also like to thank the many Nigerians across the state who volunteered to serve as non-partisan election observers on behalf of all the people of Kogi. Despite the shortcomings of the elections, YIAGA AFRICA commends the dedication and commitment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYCS) members who served as ad hoc poll officials.  YIAGA AFRICA also appreciates the collaboration of our development partners and their commitment to Nigerian initiatives to ensure credible elections in our country.

YIAGA AFRICA, through the #WatchingTheVote initiative, is committed to promoting more credible elections by providing independent information on the conduct of elections and independently verifying the accuracy of election results. #WatchingTheVote is For All Nigerians, Beholden to No One, and Driven By Data.

Long live Kogi state, long live Nigeria. Thank you.

— End —

Dr. Hussaini Abdu

Chair, YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote – Kogi Observation Mission

Samson Itodo

Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA

For media inquiries please contact:

Moshood Isah

Communication Officer

YIAGA AFRICA

Tel. +234 (0) 703 666 9339

Email: [email protected]

Learn more about #WatchingTheVote at www.watchingthevote.org or on social media on Facebook at facebook.com/yiaga.orgor on Twitter @YIAGA.

 

WTV Board members addressing a press conference on the outcome of Bayelsa Election

Watching the Vote Process Statement 2019 Bayelsa Governorship Election

Download Statement Below

Watching the Vote Process Statement 2019 Bayelsa Governorship Election

Introduction

The November 2019 Governorship election in Bayelsa presented another opportunity for voters in Bayelsa to elect their Governor. The election experienced a slow start with the late commencement of polls across the state. The PVT data showed that as at 7:30 am, only 24% of polling units had polling official present and as at 12:30 only 56% of polling had opened and commenced the voting process. YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV) deployed 500 polling unit observers to a total of 250 sampled polling units in each of the eight Local Government areas with 21 mobile observers roving the LGAs in the State and providing near real-time information on the conduct of the election across the state. The WTV polling unit observers deployed by 7:00 am to the sampled polling units remained at the polling unit till the close of polls and posting of results at the polling units.

Deploying the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology, YIAGA AFRICA released its preliminary situational statement on the commencement of the election which in addition to providing data highlighting the late commencement of polls noted that opening polling units had election materials present with the card reader, for instance, present in 83% of the opened polling unit. However, the situational analysis indicated certain challenges in the electoral process that may impact on the credibility of the process.

This statement on the conduct of the elections is based on WTV observation of the processes of accreditation, voting, and the counting and posting of results. This statement represents a culmination of our findings from the pre-election environment through election day and highlights critical incidents observed that have the potential of undermining the credibility of the election.

YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!”. Employing the PVT methodology – the gold standard for citizen observation – WTV deployed 500 stationary observers in pairs to a representative statistical sample of 250 polling units, and 21 mobile observers located in all 8 local government areas (LGAs) of Bayelsa state. WTV also deployed 8 collation center observers to each of the LGA collation centers.

YIAGA AFRICA implemented its WTV observation to provide citizens, candidates, political parties and INEC with independent, accurate and timely information that reflects the ballots cast at polling units for the Bayelsa gubernatorial election.

YIAGA AFRICA once again commends voters in Bayelsa state who came out to vote despite the challenges with opening of polls and the rain.

Summary of Pre-Election Observation Trends

YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote in the pre-election statement highlighted major findings that remained consistent in the pre-election environment and shared emerging trends that had the potential to impact on the credibility of the process. Amongst these were:

  • Security threats, Recruitment of Thugs and Arms stockpiling: Reports in the pre-election phase indicated active recruitment of thugs and militants and stockpiling of arms with more reports on this received from Southern Ijaw, Sagbama, Brass and Yenagoa. The stockpiling and easy access to arms and recruitment of thugs was also indicated by reports of sporadic shootings in some of these LGA’s.
  • Threats of Violence: The pre-election environment revealed a consistent and worrying trend of violence trailing the political campaigns. Observers’ reports indicated verbal and physical attacks during the campaigns and rallies. This continued into the election week resulting in the death of 3 citizens in Nembe LGA indicating possible threat of intimidation and political intolerance.
  • Money Politics and Abuse of Electoral Laws: The pre-election findings indicated a trend of voter inducement, purchase of the permanent voter’s card and voters details which was deployed as a campaign strategy by the political parties. The campaigns were a contest between the highest bidder and spender and the trend projected a possible overbearing influence of money in the election to be reflected in the level of vote-buying, community collusion and electoral thugs bargaining.
  • Logistics Challenge: While the pre-election report indicated the early commencement of activities by INEC, questions around early and effective deployment of materials and personnel were a concern in the pre-election phase. The pre-election report, for instance, indicated that while non-sensitive materials were deployed in all the 8 LGAs early, the deployment of sensitive materials by INEC from Yenagoa to the LGA was delayed to Friday, 15th November 2019 due to the uncertainty created by conflicting court decisions. As such WTV confirmed the last set of materials were only deployed by 4:30 pm on the eve of the election to the LGAs.
  • Last Minute Court Decisions: YIAGA AFRICA is concerned with the trend of last-minute judgments issued by courts on pre-election matters without recourse to its implication for election management, public safety and citizens participation. More worrisome is the conflicting nature of these judgments delivered by courts of coordinate jurisdiction. Nigeria needs to retool her legal framework to address the duality of jurisdiction of courts and timeline for the determination of pre-election cases.

The Watching the Vote findings on the election process is based on reports received from 202 of our 250 sampled polling units in addition to our preliminary situational analysis of the commencement of polls in Bayelsa state issues on Saturday 16th November 2019.

Watching the Vote Findings on the Election process

Absence of Voting or incomplete process at polling unit: Reports from Watching The Vote observers revealed that election did not either hold or were not completed in about 24% of the Watching the Vote PVT sampled polling units. This indicates that elections did not hold, or the election process were not concluded in over 300 of the polling units in Bayelsa state. However, YIAGA AFRICA WTV polling unit observers remained in the polling units where elections were conducted from the opening of the polling units to the posting of results. Our findings show:

  • Accreditation and Voting
  • At 90% of polling units, the smart card reader was used throughout the day.
  • At 69% of polling units, the smart card reader functioned throughout the day.
  • At 91% of polling units, every potential voter’s fingers were checked for indelible ink before being permitted to vote.
  • At 93% of polling units, every potential voter’s permanent voter card (PVC) was checked by the card reader. At 93% of polling units, every potential voter’s details were checked against the register of voters. At 99% of polling units, no one was accredited to vote who did not have a PVC. At 95% of polling units, no one was denied accreditation because their name had been ticked on the register of voters.
  • At 87% of polling units, every potential voter’s fingerprints were checked by the card reader.
  • 72% of polling units were set up so no one could see how the voters marked their ballot papers. However, at 11% of polling units, it was possible to see how a voter’s ballot paper was marked when it was put in the ballot box.
  • At 91% of polling units, indelible ink was applied to the cuticle of a finger of every accredited voter.
  • At 96% of the polling units no one was permitted to vote whose name did not appear in the voters register while in 99% of polling units no one was allowed to vote without a PVC.
  • At polling units, overall 63% of voters were accredited by the smart card reader verifying both their PVC and fingerprints, 32% of voters were accredited with only their PVC being verified, and 3% of voters were manually accredited.
  • At polling units, 2% of voters were turned away and not permitted to vote for any reason.
  • During accreditation and voting, at 27% of polling units voters crowded polling officials, at 18% of polling units there were attempts by people to influence the polling officials, and at 4% of polling units there were incidents of intimidation, harassment or violence.
  • At 2% of Polling units governorship ballot box or ballot papers were snatched or stolen.
  • At 15% of Polling units the governorship ballot box was stuffed.
  • 54% of polling units completed accreditation and voting by the designated time of 2:00 pm while by 3:00 pm 24% of polling units had completed accreditation and voting. 18% of polling units finished voting after 4pm and in 4% of polling units voting was suspended to finish tomorrow.

2)    Counting

  • At 92% of polling units polling officials showed how every ballot paper was marked to everyone present.
  • At 10% of polling units an Accord polling agent signed the official results form (EC.8A).
  • At 93% of polling units an APC polling agent signed the official results form (EC.8A).
  • At 86% of polling units a PDP polling agent signed the official results form (EC.8A).
  • At 16% of polling units polling official recounted the ballot papers.
  • At 87% of polling units the official results were posted for the public to see.

Critical Incident

YIAGA Africa received and confirmed a total of 21 incident reports from its WTV observers. The incident reports capture instances of infractions that could undermine the integrity of the electoral process. The reports capture late commencement of polls, not opening of polling units, vote buying/bribery, intimidation and harassment of voters and polling officials, manual accreditation and voting, community collusion security interference and observers not allowed to observe in few polling units.

The grievous incident was:

Not Conducting Election: Election was not conducted in 24% (61 of 250) of YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV sampled polling units. This incident was more prevalent in 28 polling units in Southern Ijaw LGA, 11 polling units in Ogbia LGA, 9 polling units in Ekeremor LGA, 7 polling units in Nembe LGA, 5 in Sagbama LGA and 1 in Yenagoa LGA. Statewide this data suggests that elections may not have been held in several hundred polling units thereby seriously compromising the rights of people of Bayelsa to freely determine for themselves their elected governor.

Table 1: Distribution of Bayelsa Polling Units that Did Not Conduct Elections
 

LGA

PVT Sample PVT Sample with No Elections Percent PVT Sample with No Elections
Polling Units Registered Voters Polling Units Registered Voters Percent Polling Units Percent Registered Voters
Brass 22 9,975 0 0 0% 0%
Ekeremor 27 14,812 9 5,798 33% 39%
Kolokuma/Opokuma 20 7,926 0 0 0% 0%
Nembe 28 11,744 7 2,716 25% 23%
Ogbia 36 12,922 11 3,572 18% 28%
Sagbama 28 16,568 5 2,632 18% 16%
Southern Ijaw 59 22,347 28 10,342 47% 46%
Yenagoa 30 30,205 1 550 3% 2%
Total 250 126,499 61 25,610 24% 20%
Source: YIAGA AFRICA

PVT Results Estimates

As noted as part of its overall observation effort for the Bayelsa gubernatorial election YIAGA AFRICA conducted a PVT in which citizen observers were deployed to a statistical sample of 250 polling units across all eight LGAs in the state. In addition, to closely observing the opening, accreditation, voting and counting process, PVT observers also collected the official results for each sampled polling unit. Because the PVT observers closely observed the entire process and reported the official results from a representative sample of polling units, the PVT is the only methodology that can independently verify official election results.

It is important to remember, though, that it is only INEC that announces official results and declares the winners of elections. PVT is an advance observation methodology to provide all stakeholders with accurate, timely, independent, nonpartisan data on the conduct of elections and the accuracy of official results.

YIAGA AFRICA, however, is not able to independently verify, one way or the other of the official results for the Bayelsa gubernatorial election because elections did not hold in 61 of 250 or approximately 24% of sampled polling units. This reduces the PVT sample and therefore YIAGA AFRICA cannot verify the outcome of the result.

While YIAGA AFRICA’s PVT results data cannot be used to verify gubernatorial election results, the PVT results data based on official results from 165 sampled polling stations suggests that the election is too close to call. As Table 2 shows, it is a statistical draw between the two leading candidates meaning that either candidate could win the gubernatorial election. Either of the leading two candidates could receive 50% or more of the vote. Thus, the PVT results data cannot be used to verify the results or to suggest which candidate received the most votes. However, the PVT results does clearly show that this is a close election and that every vote count.

While INEC should always make a strive on protecting the rights of citizens to vote, given the closeness of the election, it is even more critical that every registered voter be given an equal opportunity to vote and that elections should be held for every single polling unit that was unable to hold elections on Saturday, November 16, 2019. Any decision short of this would undermine the inclusiveness of the elections and would call into question the credibility of the election.

Table 2: WTV PVT Estimates based on Reports from 171 of 189 (90%) Polling Units were Elections were Held
Party WTV PVT Estimated Range
APC 61.6 % to 46.4%
PDP 52.1% to 36.9%
All Other Parties 2.1% to 0.5%
Source: YIAGA AFRICA

Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, YIAGA AFRICA’s data, based on reports from our citizen observers located in the eight LGAs of Bayelsa state, exposes serious shortcomings in the pre-election period, the election day environment and in the conduct of the polls themselves.

While YIAGA AFRICA notes the role of INEC as the Election Management Body, It is important to state clearly that beyond INEC, the attitudes, actions and dispositions of stakeholders like the security agencies and political parties could make or mar the credibility of any election.

The Bayelsa gubernatorial election still experienced political parties building their campaign strategy around deploying sufficient money to buy the elections, acquiring arms and paying thugs who are willing to disrupt the process. This practice remains inimical to democratic development in Nigeria and regardless of what party benefits from the outcome of the election, the question on the development of our electoral democracy and the quality of participation remains a major challenge. The political class have perfected their act of undermining the process and is consistently making it difficult for INEC to conduct the elections across board. Beyond the parties are also the security agencies who are failing in their critical role of supporting the work of INEC for the safe, effective and successful deployment of materials and safeguarding the process. This failure remains a factor enabling the late commencement of polls, breach of the electoral laws and the willful commission of electoral offences.

The election revealed the need for INEC to put in place sufficient safeguards and operational practices to ensure the elections could be conducted in such a way that the right to vote is facilitated. For instance, having polling units were votes were not conducted becomes a major issue and a question of the breach of fundamental right to vote, especially in this instance were voting was not conducted or process not completed in 24% of PVT sampled polling units implying that potentially up to 300 polling units with nearly 200,000 registered voters may have not been given the opportunity to exercise their franchise. YIAGA AFRICA urges INEC to provide a detailed account of all polling units for which no election was held and to ensure elections are held for all polling units. Any decision short of this would undermine the inclusiveness of the process and would call into question the credibility of the elections.

The Bayelsa gubernatorial election which was held on the same day as the Kogi Gubernatorial and Kogi West Senatorial elections provided an opportunity for all election stakeholders to change Nigeria’s electoral trajectory especially after the experience of the 2019 general elections. While this trajectory was not changed, there are still opportunities for improvement, especially with the next round of off-cycle elections. In all, there is only so much INEC can do because the outcome of elections is determined by a culmination of factors which includes the actions of political parties/candidates and their commitment to electoral integrity and the commitment of the security agencies to a credible and democratic process.

Despite the challenges observed in the Bayelsa gubernatorial elections, YIAGA AFRICA wants to thank voters who went to the polls despite the myriad of challenges. We would also like to thank the many Nigerians across the state who volunteered to serve as WTV non-partisan election observers on behalf of all the people of Bayelsa. YIAGA AFRICA commends the dedication and commitment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members who served as ad hoc polling officials.  YIAGA AFRICA also appreciates the collaboration of our development partners and their commitment to Nigerian initiatives to ensure credible elections in our country.

YIAGA AFRICA, through the #WatchingTheVote initiative, is committed to promoting more credible elections by providing independent information on the conduct of elections and independently verifying the accuracy of election results. #WatchingTheVote is For All Nigerians, Beholden to No One, and Driven By Data.

Long live Bayelsa state, long live Nigeria. Thank you.

 

Dr. Aisha Abdullahi

Chair, YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote – Bayelsa Observation Mission

Ezenwa Nwagwu

Co-Chair, YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote – Bayelsa Observation Mission

Cynthia Mbamalu

Project Director, YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote

 

For media inquiries please contact:

Moshood Isah

Communication Officer

YIAGA AFRICA

Tel. +234 (0) 703 666 9339

Email: [email protected]

Learn more about #WatchingTheVote at www.watchingthevote.org or on social media on Facebook at facebook.com/yiaga.orgor on Twitter @YIAGA.

WTV Board members addressing a press conference on the outcome of Bayelsa Election

Watching the Vote (WTV) Statement on 2019 Bayelsa Governorship Election Results

Download Report Below

Watching the Vote (WTV) Statement on 2019 Bayelsa Governorship Election Results

Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives us great pleasure to welcome you to the YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV) press conference on the results for the 2019 Bayelsa governorship election.

On Sunday November 17, 2019 YIAGA AFRICA released its preliminary statement on the conduct of the Bayelsa governorship election. That statement was based on data reported by YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching the Vote (WTV) citizen observers who were deployed for over two months throughout the state. For the pre-election period, YIAGA AFRICA deployed 21 long-term observers across the state starting in late September.

For election day, we deployed 21 mobile observers and for our Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) we deployed 500 citizens observers to a statistical sample of 250 polling units located across all eight local government areas (LGAs) of Bayelsa. As well as 8 LGA Result collation observers to the LGA Collation Centers.

YIAGA AFRICA’s preliminary statement highlighted shortcomings in the pre-election period, the election day environment and the conduct of the polls on election day. In particular, PVT observers reported that there were no elections held at 61 of 250 sampled polling units and therefore potentially 24% of all polling units in Bayelsa did not hold elections. As a result, we released PVT results data indicating that the Bayelsa governorship election was too close to call. Therefore, YIAGA AFRICA called upon INEC to provide a detailed account of all polling units for which no election was held and to ensure elections are held for all polling units. Any decision short of this would undermine the inclusiveness of the process and would call into question the credibility of the election.

INEC has now released results for the Bayelsa governorship election without holding elections in all polling units. INEC announced 352,552 votes or 71% for APC and 143,172 or 29% votes for PDP. These results are not consistent with the PVT estimates of between 62% and 46% for APC and 52% and 37% for PDP. This suggests that the results were manipulated during the collation process. If the tabulation process had been conducted properly then INEC’s official results would fall within the PVT estimates.

YIAGA AFRICA Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT)

YIAGA AFRICA WTV adopts the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology for election day observation at the polling units. The PVT is a proven and advanced observation methodology that employs well-established statistical principles and utilizes sophisticated information technologies. YIAGA AFRICA WTV provides timely and accurate information on the conduct of accreditation, voting, and counting as well as independently verifies the official governorship results as announced by the INEC.

PVTs are not exit polls. WTV citizen observers do not ask voters for whom they cast their ballot. Instead, the PVT relies on the official results from polling units for which there have been observers watching the entire process. This tested and proven election observation methodology has been deployed in over 50 countries around the world including Nigeria – most recently by YIAGA AFRICA for the 2019 presidential election.

YIAGA AFRICA PVT sample of polling units was drawn according to well established statistical principles and is truly representative of all of the polling units because the percentage of sampled polling units for each LGA is similar to the percentage of all polling units for each LGA. For example, Brass LGA has 8.80% of all the polling units in Bayelsa (159 of 1,804) and 8.80% (22 of 250) of the sampled polling units are in

Brass LGA. While not identical, the percentages for every LGA are very close, clearly demonstrating that the PVT sample is representative of the entire state demonstrates the representativeness of sampled polling units).

High Percentage of Polling Units with no Election.

The WTV data shows that election was not conducted in 24% (61 of 250) of YIAGA AFRICA’s WTV sampled polling units. This incident was more prevalent in 28 polling units in Southern Ijaw LGA, 11 polling units in Ogbia LGA, 9 polling units in Ekeremor LGA, 7 polling units in Nembe LGA, 5 in Sagbama LGA and 1 in Yenagoa LGA of the PVT sampled polling units. Statewide this data suggests that elections may not have been held in several hundred polling units thereby seriously compromising the rights of people of Bayelsa to freely determine for themselves their elected governor.

Table 1: Distribution of Bayelsa Polling Units that Did Not Conduct Elections
 

 

LGA

PVT Sample PVT Sample with No Elections Percent PVT Sample with No Elections
Polling Units Registered Voters Polling Units Registered Voters Percent Polling Units Percent Registered Voters
Brass 22 9,975 0 0 0% 0%
Ekeremor 27 14,812 9 5,798 33% 39%
Kolokuma/Opokuma 20 7,926 0 0 0% 0%
Nembe 28 11,744 7 2,716 25% 23%
Ogbia 36 12,922 11 3,572 18% 28%
Sagbama 28 16,568 5 2,632 18% 16%
Southern Ijaw 59 22,347 28 10,342 47% 46%
Yenagoa 30 30,205 1 550 3% 2%
Total 250 126,499 61 25,610 24% 20%
Source: YIAGA AFRICA

INEC Official Results

INEC has announced the official results for the Bayelsa election and made a return. As stated in YIAGA AFRICA preliminary statement, the PVT is not able to independently verify, regardless of the outcome, who won the Bayelsa gubernatorial election because elections did not occur in 61 of 250, or approximately 24%, of sampled polling units. This reduces the PVT sample and therefore YIAGA AFRICA cannot verify the outcome of the result.

However, the PVT is still able to determine if the collation process was conducted properly and expose manipulation during the collation process. If the official results as announced fall outside of the PVT estimated range, then the results have been manipulated during the collation process.

As Table 2 shows, the official results as announced by INEC for APC and PDP are not consistent with the PVT estimates, suggesting that the collation process may have been manipulated. INEC announced that APC received 352,552 or 71% of the vote while the PVT estimated range is between 62% and 46% meaning that the largest vote share APC could have received is 62% of the vote. Similarly, INEC announced that PDP received 143,172 or 29% of the vote while the PVT estimated range is between 52% and 37% meaning that the smallest vote share PDP could have received is 37%.

Table 2: Comparison of INEC Official Results and PVT Estimates for Bayelsa Gubernatorial Election
 

 

LGA

APC PDP
INEC
Official
Result
PVT
Estimated
Range
INEC
Official
Result
PVT
Estimated
Range
Brass 23,831 69% 77% to 30% 10,410 30% 70% to 22%
Ekeremor 2,1489 54% 49% to 32% 18,344 46% 68% to 51%
Kolokuma/
Opokuma
8,934 36% 45% to 22% 15,360 62% 77% to 54%
Nembe 83,041 98% 100% to 97% 874 1% 2% to 1%
Ogbia 58,016 80% 66% to 44% 13,763 19% 55% to 33%
Sagbama 7,831 11% 27% to 9% 60,339 87% 91% to 72%
Southern Ijaw 124,803 96% 80% to 30% 4,898 4% 66% to 16%
Yenagoa 24,697 55% 68% to 44% 19,184 43% 54% to 40%
Bayelsa 352,552 71% 62% to 46% 143,172 29% 52% to 37%
Source: YIAGA AFRICA

Southern Ijaw

While Table 2 shows discrepancies in other LGAs, the most significant manipulation of the collation process was for Southern Ijaw. INEC’s official result for APC is 124,803 votes or 96% while the PVT estimates the maximum vote share possible is 80%. At the same time, INEC’s official result for PDP is 4,989 or 4% while the PVT estimates the minimum vote share possible is 16%.

As noted above, 46% of PVT sampled polling units in Southern Ijaw held no election, suggesting that up to half of all polling units in the LGA did not open. However, INEC announced that a total of 130,121 votes were cast in Southern Ijaw out of 165,449 registered voters for a turnout of 79%. This is not possible given the widespread failure of polling units to hold elections across the LGA.

Conclusion

YIAGA AFRICA, through its Watching the Vote initiative, is committed to promoting more credible elections by providing independent information on the conduct of elections and independently determining if the results announced reflects the votes cast. #WatchingTheVote is For All Nigerians, Beholden to None, and Driven By Data.

Since the commencement of the Watching the Vote initiative, YIAGA AFRICA has consistently told the people of Nigeria that if election results are accurate we will confirm them, but if there is manipulation we will expose it. The PVT data shows that there were no elections in approximately 25% of polling units and suggests that the collation process for the Bayelsa governorship election was manipulated – particularly for Southern Ijaw LGA.

This calls into question the official results announced by INEC and credibility of this election. While the PVT cannot determine who has won the governorship election for Bayelsa, regardless of the outcome, the PVT estimates suggests that the official results were manipulated during the collation process.

YIAGA AFRICA urgently calls upon INEC to conduct an inclusive, transparent and accountable audit of the Bayelsa gubernatorial results that involves political parties and civil society. The audit must include two elements. First, it must identify all polling units that had no election on November 16 so that new elections can be held for those polling units. Second, it must re-collate the results for those polling units that did hold elections on November 16 so that the correct partial results can be determined. YIAGA AFRICA stands ready to work with INEC on this audit so that the people of Bayelsa can have confidence in their elections and the results for the 2019 governorship results.

It is important to state clearly that beyond INEC, the attitudes, actions and dispositions of stakeholders like the security agencies and political parties could make or mar the credibility of any election. The Bayelsa governorship election still experienced political parties building their campaign strategy around deploying sufficient money to buy the

elections, acquiring arms and paying thugs who are willing to disrupt the process. This practice remains inimical to democratic development in Nigeria and regardless of what party benefits from the outcome of the election, the question on the development of our electoral democracy and the quality of participation remains a major challenge.

The political class have perfected their act of undermining the process and is consistently making it difficult for INEC to conduct the elections across board. Beyond the parties are also the security agencies who are failing in their critical role of supporting the work of INEC for the safe, effective and successful deployment of materials and safeguarding the process. This failure remains a factor enabling the late commencement of polls, breach of the electoral laws and the willful commission of electoral offences.

Those found responsible, from INEC, political parties, security agencies, or any other body, for either preventing a polling unit from opening or manipulating the results during the collation process must be held accountable and brought to book. The culture of impunity in Nigeria must end. Further, Nigeria needs to retool her legal framework to address the duality of jurisdiction of courts and timeline for the determination of pre-election cases.

The Bayelsa governorship election which was held on the same day as the Kogi Gubernatorial and Kogi West Senatorial elections provided an opportunity for all election stakeholders to change Nigeria’s electoral trajectory especially after the experience of the 2019 general elections. While this trajectory was not changed, there are still opportunities for improvement, especially with the next round of off-cycle elections. The National Assembly must as a matter of urgency prioritize electoral reform in their legislative agenda.

This is a call to President Buhari to prove to Nigerians that he is committed to electoral reform and leave a legacy of reforms that ends electoral impunity, strengthens democratic institutions and deepen the culture of democratic accountability. Despite the serious challenges observed in the Bayelsa gubernatorial elections and the need for an audit, YIAGA AFRICA would like to thank voters who went to the polls despite the myriad of challenges and commends the people of Bayelsa for maintaining peace through the process of collation and announcement of results. We would also like to thank the many Nigerians across the state who volunteered to serve as WTV non-partisan election observers on behalf of all the people of Bayelsa. YIAGA AFRICA commends the dedication and commitment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members who served as ad hoc polling officials. YIAGA AFRICA also appreciates the collaboration of our development partners and their commitment to Nigerian initiatives to ensure credible elections in our country.

Long live Bayelsa state, long live Nigeria. Thank you.

Dr. Aisha Abdullahi

Chair, YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote – Bayelsa Observation Mission

Ezenwa Nwagwu

Co-Chair, YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote – Bayelsa Observation Mission

Cynthia Mbamalu

Project Director, YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote

For media inquiries please contact:

Moshood Isah

Communication Officer

YIAGA AFRICA

Tel. +234 (0) 703 666 9339

Email: [email protected]

Learn more about #WatchingTheVote at www.watchingthevote.org or on social

media on Facebook at facebook.com/yiaga.org or on Twitter @YIAGA.

Dr Aisha Abdullahi during situational press conference in Bayelsa

Watching the Vote Preliminary Situational Statement 2019 Bayelsa Governorship Election

Download Report Below

PRELIMINARY  SITUATIONAL STATEMENT  2019 BAYELSA GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION

Introduction

YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote (WTV) for the 16th November 2019 Governorship election in Bayelsa state deployed 500 polling unit observers to a total of 250 sampled polling units in each of the eight Local Government areas with 21 mobile observers roving the LGAs in the State providing near real time information on the conduct of the election across the state. The WTV polling unit observers deployed by 7:00am to the sampled polling units and will remain at the polling unit till the close of polls and posting of results at the polling units. In order to provide accurate and timely information on the election process, YIAGA AFRICAs Watching the Vote is deploying the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) which is an advanced and proven methodology that employs well established statistical principles and utilizes sophisticated information technologies for election observation. Using this methodology, YIAGA AFRICA can independently determine if the official result announced reflects the votes cast.

In addition to the polling units and mobile observers, YIAGA AFRICAs WTV eight result collation observers will be at the LGA results collation center to observe the process and send in reports on the collation process.

YIAGA AFRICA commends those voters who have so far come out to vote despite the challenges with opening of polls and the rain. The WTV Midday situational statement based on Watching The Vote observation so far highlights findings that enables a systematic assessment of seven process-related issues which includes the: opening of polling units and presence of polling officials and Election materials; presence of security personnel, commencement of accreditation and voting; deployment of the smart card readers; and presence of party agents. It also highlights critical incidents observed that may threaten the credibility of the election.

These are preliminary findings as of 12:30 pm on election day with reports received from 229 of our 250 sampled polling units. The following data will be updated as additional reports are received from WTV observers at sampled polling units.

Watching the Vote Midday Findings

Overall, while election day is not over, YIAGA AFRICA is very concerned about reports from our citizens observers of violence and attempts to disrupt the process, late opening of polling units across Bayelsa State and vote buying. Where polling units have opened, WTV citizen observers report that they largely have the required materials.

  1. As of 7:30 am, YIAGA AFRICA WTV observers reported that INEC Officials had arrived at only 24% of polling units across the state. Arrival of polling officials was identical across the three senatorial districts.
  2. By 12:30 pm, only 56% of polling units had opened across the state. Opening rates again varied by LGAs. WTV citizen observers reported that 23% of polling units were open by 9am; 18% between 9am and 10am; 15% between 10am and 12 noon; 12% not open by 12 noon; and 33% not yet reporting.
  3. On average open polling units had 4 polling officials present of which 2 were women.
  4. 79% of open polling units had security agents present.
  5. Card readers were observed in 83% of polling units.
  6. Register of voters, were seen in 82% of open polling units, indelible ink (marker pen) in 79% of open polling units, official stamp in 82% of open polling units, voting cubicle in 79% of polling units, ink pad (in voting cubicle) in 82% of open polling units, Governorship Ballot box in 82% of open polling units, Polling unit booklet were present in 80% of open polling units.
  7. The Braille Ballot guides were present in 28% and the PWD poster (Poster EC 30E) were present at 68% of open polling units.
  8. Accord Party agents were seen at 10% of open polling units, APC party agents were seen at 83% of open polling units, and PDP at 74% of open polling units.

As of 12:30, the YIAGA AFRICA WTV Data Center had also received some verified critical incident reports:

  • Late deployment of materials: reports across the state indicate late commencement of polls. In Otuoke community, Ogbia LGA for instance, election materials and personnel had not deployed from the Registration Area Centres to the polling units by 9:30am. Complaints from the ad-hoc officials revealed that they were ready to deploy the night before but were held down by hoodlums in the community and the security agents were not helpful. This affected deployment.
  • Violent Disruption of the process: Armed thugs attacked polling units under Opolo Townhall/Community, Yenagoa LGA, shooting sporadically, disrupting the process with some casualties. Security personnel present at the time were not helpful. In addition, Political parties sharing money caused the disruption of the process in Futire Polling unit, Ward 6 (Otuasega), Ogbia LGA.
  • Thugs Carting away with Election Materials and Boat Conveying Election Material: In Ward 12 and 13 in Okpoama, Southern Ijaw LGA, some political thugs, led by the local government chairman hijacked INEC materials and disrupted the voting process. There were reports of sporadic gunshots in the polling unit. In addition, WTV received a report that a boat conveying election materials and polling officials that were deployed to 4 polling units (PUs 10, 11, 12, and 14) in Apoi Ward 15 in Kologbene Community in Southern Ijaw, was hijacked.
  • Attack on WTV Citizen Observers and not Allowed to Observe: WTV observers were attacked by party agents in Opolo Town Hall, Epie II Ozyi Polling Unit in Yenagoa LGA. One of the observers was beaten, their observation materials were confiscated, and they were asked to leave the polling unit.
  • Destruction of Election Materials: WTV also received and verified reports that fighting between party agents for APC and PDP resulted in the destruction and burning of election materials in Polling Unit 8, Ward 4 and in Ward 3 all in Ogbia LGA. Materials were also destroyed, and the process halted in PU 007, Ikarma, Okorbia, Yenagoa LGA.

 

Urgent Action Recommendations

Urgent actions are needed by INEC, security agencies and political parties to restore calm and ensure all eligible voters have an opportunity to vote.

INEC

  • YIAGA AFRICAs WTV calls on INEC to extend voting time from 2pm to 5pm due to the late commencement of polls to ensure all registered voters have a reasonable opportunity to vote.
  • INEC should investigate the high reports of materials being carted away and destroyed in some wards and for some polling units and ensure that votes are not recorded for those polling units. INEC should postpone voting for those locations to enable voters to participate the following day.
  • INEC should as a matter of urgency coordinate with the security agencies to provide adequate security for the polling officials deployed across the state especially in hot spot LGAs. This is also very important for the collation process.
  • INEC officials should act in utmost sense of responsibility and professionalism and must remain neutral at all times.

Security

  • YIAGA AFRICA calls on the security agencies to effectively deploy to secure the election materials and the INEC officials deployed in the field, especially from communities where observer groups have sent in reports of disruption of the process. This includes ensuring proper inter-agency coordination for effective protection of lives and properties, and in securing the process especially in the creeks.
  • Security agents should ensure that individuals disrupting the process and buying votes are arrested.
  • Security agencies should ensure that its personnel acts in utmost professionalism and remain impartial throughout the conduct of this election.

Political Parties

  • YIAGA AFRICA calls on contesting political parties and candidates to stop their supporters from disrupting the process.
  • YIAGA AFRICA calls on political parties, candidates and their supporters to refrain from disrupting the process and attempts to undermine the elections.
  • Political parties and candidates should refrain from buying votes as the process continues.

Conclusion

YIAGA AFRICA WTV is fully prepared to observe and provide timely information as the process continues in Bayelsa. Our observers will continue to watch the process until the end of voting and the posting of results. In addition, our LGA result collation observers will be at the LGA result collation Centre’s to observe the process and provide information on the results collation.

We call on the good people of Bayelsa state, especially the voters to not be deterred by the challenges but rather to remain patient until they cast their votes.

YIAGA AFRICA with her citizens observers is observing the election on behalf of the people of Bayelsa and Nigerians, to ensure that the people’s votes are accurately counted.

We call on all people of Bayelsa, the parties and candidates, INEC and the security agencies to play their parts to ensure a peaceful, credible and conclusive process.

Thank you and God Bless the people of Bayelsa State.

Dr. Aisha Abdullahi

Chair, YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote – Bayelsa Observation Mission

Ezenwa Nwagwu

Co-Chair, YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote – Bayelsa Observation Mission

Cynthia Mbamalu

Project Director, YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote

For media inquiries please contact:

Moshood Isah

Communication Officer

YIAGA AFRICA

Tel. +234 (0) 703 666 9339

Email: [email protected]

Learn more about #WatchingTheVote at www.watchingthevote.org or on social media on Facebook at facebook.com/yiaga.orgor on Twitter @YIAGA.