Election day observation in Kogi state

Kogi-West Rerun: YIAGA AFRICA Raises Concern Over Electoral Impunity

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YIAGA AFRICA STATEMENT ON KOGI-WEST SUPPLEMENTARY ELECTION

On November 30, 2019, YIAGA AFRICA observed the Kogi West supplementary election in 53 polling units in 7 Local Government Areas (LGAs) where elections were cancelled or not concluded due to violence and disruption (Ijumu, Kabba/Bunu, Lokoja, Koton Karfe, Mopa Moro, Yagba East and Yagba West). YIAGA AFRICA Watching the Vote (WTV) deployed a total of 63 trained and accredited citizen observers including 53 stationary observers and 10 roving and collation center observers for the supplementary elections in Kogi West.

This statement is based on YIAGA AFRICA WTV findings on the observation of accreditation and voting, counting of ballots, announcement and posting of results at the polling units, and collation of results at LGA collation centers. These findings are based on reports received from 52 out of 53 polling units in the 7 LGAs and 7 LGA collation centers.

Watching the Vote Preliminary Findings on the Supplementary Election

Findings from Polling Units

Opening and Set-Up of Polling Unit

  1. As of 7:30 am, YIAGA AFRICA WTV observers reported that INEC officials had arrived at 52 of the 53 polling units in the 7 LGAs where the supplementary elections held. By 10:00 am, 52 polling units had commenced accreditation and voting.
  2. All of the 53 polling units had 4 or more polling officials present with at least 1 female polling official.
  3. APC party agents were present in all the polling units while PDP party agents were seen in 51 of the polling units.
  4. One or more essential materials like the register of voters, indelible ink/marker pen, polling official stamp, voting cubicle, ink pad, gubernatorial ballot box, and polling unit booklet were seen in all the polling units. Specifically, Smart Card Readers were present in all the 53 polling units.

Election Procedures at the Polling Units (Accreditation and Voting, Counting, Announcement and Posting of Official Governorship Results)

  1. The Smart Card Reader was not used for the accreditation of voters in 7 of the 53 polling units. Of these 7 polling units, 5 are in Lokoja LGA and 2 in Kabba/Bunu LGA. In addition, voters were allowed to vote in these polling units without using the Smart Card Reader to verify their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs).
  2. In 50 of the 53 polling units, only voters whose names were in the register of voters were allowed to vote.
  3. In one of the polling units (St. Paul’s Sch II Kabba, Kabba/Bunu LGA), counting was done in a venue (polling unit) different from where accreditation and voting was conducted.
  4. In 49 polling units, INEC polling officials counted the number of unused ballot papers; in 43 polling units, INEC polling officials counted the number of spoilt governorship ballot papers; and in 44 polling units, INEC polling officials counted the number of counterfoils for the ballot papers. However, INEC polling officials did not show how every ballot paper was marked to all party agents and observers in 2 polling units.
  5. The polling unit level results were not posted for the public to see in 7 polling units. The polling units involved were located in Lokoja, Mopa Moro and Kabba/Bunu LGA.

 

Misconduct at the Polling Units

    1. Voters were intimidated, harassed or assaulted in 3 polling units during accreditation and voting. INEC polling officials were identified as victims of the 3 incidences. Women were specifically intimidated, harassed or assaulted in 4 polling units during the same accreditation and voting process.
    2. Party agents attempted to influence voters or INEC polling officials in 10 polling units.

  

Findings on the Results Collation Process at the LGA Result Collation Centres

  1. Access to Result Collation Centers: WTV observers were initially denied access to the LGA results collation center in Mopa Moro LGA. This was later resolved.
  1. Presence of Security Personnel and Political Party Representatives: Security agents and party agents were present in all LGA collation centers.
  1. Results Collation Process:
  1. In all LGA collation centers, senatorial results Form EC 8Bs for all polling units from the wards were submitted to the collation officer and all the LGA collation center officers entered the votes in the original form EC 8C in words and in figures.
  1. APC party agents countersigned the results summary forms in all the LGA collation centers while the PDP in only 6 LGA collation centers. No PDP party agent was seen at the time of the countersigning of the results summary forms in Mopa Moro LGA.
  1. INEC officials distributed copies of the form EC 8C to the party agents and security agents present in all the LGA collation centres, and publicly posted the summary of the results in only 5 of the 7 LGA collation centers. No political party agent disagreed with the results declared in all the LGA collation centers.

 Reported Critical Incidents

YIAGA AFRICA received and confirmed a total of 25 critical incidents, which were majorly around vote-buying, vote suppression and community collusion to undermine the process. Below are some of the critical incidents and the locations where they occurred.

  1. Multiple voting: In PU 004, ward 8, Mopa Moro, voters who already had indelible ink on their fingers were allowed to vote.
  2. Voter suppression: In Open Space, Okedayo, Ijumu LGA, PU 004, ward 8 and PU 003, ward 5, Mopa Moro LGA, sorting and counting of votes were done before 2pm, denying some voters the opportunity to cast their ballot.
  3. Over voting: In PU 001, ward B, Lokoja LGA, voters staged a protest against the INEC officials because the number of total votes did not tally with the number of accredited voters captured by the card reader.
  4. Vote buying: In Oludun Furniture 002, Auta ward, Kabba/Bunu LGA, voters were trading their votes for money (N1,000). In PU001, ward 02 and PU 003, ward 1, Kogi Koton Karfe LGA, party agents were openly distributing money.
  5. Bribery: Party agents attempted to bribe observers in PU 002, Asuta ward, Kabba/Bunu.
  6. Lack of secrecy of the ballot: In PU 007, Asuta Ward, Kabba/Bunu LGA; PU 003, Open space by Aiyewa Quarters beside Comm. Bank Ijumu LGA; and Open space Oba Tedo polling unit, Yagba West LGA, voters showed how their ballot papers were marked before putting them in the ballot box. In Open Space by Okebukun Quarters, Aiyetoro polling unit and Open Space, Iluafon Quarters, Ayietoro polling unit in Ijum LGA, and Yaragi area Open Space polling unit, Ward D, Lokoja LGA, the voting cubicle was positioned in a way that people could see how voters marked their ballot paper. In Open Space, Okedayo, Ijumu LGA, party agents accompanied voters to the voting cubicle thereby compromising the secrecy of the ballot.
  7. Lack of results posting: In PU 004, Open Space, Inuwa, ward D, Lokoja LGA, INEC polling officials did not post the polling unit official result.
  8. Restricted observation: Four YIAGA AFRICA WTV observers were not allowed to observe in Ijumu LGA, at the commencement of the polls.

Recommendations

 Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

  1. YIAGA AFRICA calls on INEC to investigate polling units where the Smart Card Readers were not deployed and where there were incidences of over-voting. This investigation should be properly structured to ensure that officials found to have willfully acted in breach of the electoral guidelines are prosecuted.
  2. Conduct a special audit on the result collation process, especially for polling units where zero votes were recorded by the collation officer in the November 16 elections.
  3. In line with the principles of open election data, INEC should publish the polling unit results of the Kogi West Senatorial rerun and the November 16 elections.
  4. INEC should release complete details of the cancelled polling units, reasons for cancellation and the results for cancelled polling units where results were collated.
  5. Secrecy of the ballot was a challenge during the election, violating a fundamental dimension of democratic elections. INEC should continue to review the voting processes to allow voters to cast ballots with their choice free from scrutiny.

Security Agencies

  1. YIAGA AFRICA calls on security agencies to commence the prosecution of all electoral offenders arrested during the conduct of the first round and supplementary election.
  2. Security agencies must as a matter of urgency investigate the reports of security officials who interfered in the process, undermined the election process by their action or inaction, or engaged in any form of misconduct. Such officers must be duly prosecuted.

National Assembly (NASS)

  1. NASS should hold a public hearing on the conduct of the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship and rerun elections to document and aggregate instances of electoral impunity, violence and malpractice. This will foster accountability and inform reforms to the electoral legal framework.
  2. Accelerate the consideration of electoral amendment bills and ensure their quick passage.

Conclusion

YIAGA AFRICA notes the improvement in INEC election logistics deployment and management of the rerun election; however, there were reports of complicity of presiding officers who colluded with party agents and community leaders to manipulate election results.

In the YIAGA AFRICA post-election process statement for the November 16 elections in Kogi, we noted that the Kogi governorship and senatorial elections were severely compromised due to violence, brigandage, voter suppression and results manipulation. Political parties, candidates and security agencies deliberately worked to undermine the election. Consequently, we called 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. INEC failed to conduct new governorship and senatorial elections in the state, and therefore YIAGA AFRICA believes that the rerun election represents an attempt to legitimize a flawed election.

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.

 

Signed

Dr. Hussaini Abdu

Chair, Watching The Vote Working Group

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.org or on Twitter @YIAGA.

Young speakers and principal officers with facilitators after capacity building work shop on developing citizens driven legislative agenda

YIAGA AFRICA Builds Capacity of Young Speakers, Principal Officers on Citizens-Driven Legislative Agenda

 As part of its effort to ensure quality representation and legislation, YIAGA AFRICA hosted a two-day legislative agenda workshop for young speakers and technical working committee members in State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria. The workshop was designed to contribute towards the development of a Legislative Agenda for the State Houses of Assembly, which would outline the key priorities and objectives of the 9th Assembly and aid the development of a coherent implementation strategy.

Addressing speakers and principal officers,  Coordinator of YIAGA AFRICA Centre for Legislative Engagement, Dr Ernest Ereke said developing a citizens’ driven legislative agenda will provide the platform for a responsive, innovative and accountable leadership which would encompass the needs of the citizens, thereby, providing direction for representatives in the discharge of their legislative duties.  He further said “it is critical to provide technical support to these State Houses of Assembly in designing and developing a citizens-driven legislative agenda to drive the legislative business of the Assembly.”

Dr Ernest speaking to young lawmakers on legislative agenda

He appreciated the huge sacrifice of young speakers and principal officers saying, despite tight schedules, they have availed themselves for the purpose of developing a citizens-driven legislative agenda. He said to the Speakers, “in between steering your various State Houses of Assembly, to the right path…we keep coming to you to input our contributions and you keep accommodating those contributions to further strengthen your legislative capacity and the institutions in your various states.”

Giving his remark, the Speaker, Oyo State Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adebo commended the technical support of YIAGA AFRICA, not just to the lawmakers but to the assembly.  He further promised to deliver the best legislation to serve as a positive precedent so that other young lawmakers can build on it.

In a similar vein, another young speaker, Rt. Hon. Abok Nuhu Ayuba of Plateau State House of Assembly noted that the legislative agenda workshop organised by YIAGA AFRICA is the first of its kind in Nigeria saying “we are doing so much to ensure that the Not Too Young To Run constitution amendment is fully implemented across Nigeria, and we are doing so much to ensure that we bring the much-needed change”. Since July this year, YIAGA AFRICA has been working with the youngest speakers of the legislature, to help build a citizens-driven legislative agenda. This two-day workshop was undertaken as part of the development process.

Legislative agenda workshop with young speakers and principal officers

In November, YIAGA AFRICA deployed researchers to all the Local Government areas of Oyo, Plateau and Zamfara States to administer research surveys to gather data that would encompass the needs of the citizens. At this workshop, the facilitators guided the Technical Working Groups and Speakers to assess the Legislative Priorities of the House of Assembly towards setting benchmarks for prioritizing legislation over the four-year tenure of the assembly. The workshop ultimately aided the development of action plans as well as monitoring frameworks.

 

Also present at the workshop were Board Chair, YIAGA AFRICA, Dr. Hussaini Abdu, Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA, Samson Itodo, Senior Program Officer (Youth), Ibrahim Faruk, and research consultant, Prof. Shola Omotola, who gave presentations on the Legislative Agenda development process.

Legislative Score Card and Peer review

YIAGA AFRICA Hosts Peer Review Meeting as Not Too Young To Run Beneficiaries Share Successes, Challenges, Experiences

The experiences of young lawmakers and beneficiaries of the historic Not Too Young To Run Act in Nigeria, has been encouraging, fulfilling, empowering , rewarding, educative and revealing, as revealed by the young lawmakers themselves during a two-day peer-learning meeting in Lagos.

The meeting, which aimed to develop a peer review mechanism to enhance their legislative performance and provide opportunity for peer learning, saw young legislators share their learning experiences on the success in their first six months of legislative responsibilities. The meeting also provided a platform for young legislators across Nigeria with similar experiences to evaluate each other over a legislative session.

During the meeting, Executive Director of YIAGA AFRICA, Samson Itodo reminded young lawmakers, especially speakers and principal officers, that their performances as pioneers and beneficiaries of the Age reduction constitution amendment , would determine the success of young people in future elections.

Itodo said the  peer review meeting will enhance legislative performance and provide an opportunity for peer learning, enabled a platform for young lawmakers to share lessons, challenges and successes from their first six months in office.

In this vein, expert facilitator, Dr. Jake Dan-Azumi, a Senior Research Fellow from the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies introduced the legislators to a framework for reviewing their activities. He also addressed the participants on ‘Committee System and Legislative Oversight’, as well as the constitutional power of the legislature to check and balance the executive.

Similarly, Mr. Hezekiah, Pioneer Administrative Head of the National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO) gave an overview of the appropriation process, legal framework and jurisdiction, and best practices for budgeting. The meeting also had Dr. Shuaibu Danwanka, Director, National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies in attendance. He exposed the legislators to the process of bill drafting and motions; it was a highly participatory session.

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]

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