convergence 2.0

Not Too Young To Run Movement’ to host largest gathering of young elected lawmakers in Nigeria

The ‘Not Too Young To Run Movement’ is billed to host Nigeria’s largest gathering of young elected legislators themed Leadership, Power and Politics on May 7 – 8, 2019 in Abuja. The Convergence 2.0 is designed to inspire, empower and expose newly elected young legislators in the 2019 elections to resources and tools required for excellent public leadership and quality representation. It presents an opportunity for the newly elected young lawmakers to reflect on Nigeria’s 20 years of democracy with a view to designing a new democratic and leadership model that promotes institutional reforms, economic development and reduces inequality.

Over 300 young leaders elected into various seats in the National and State Houses of Assemblies are expected to participate in the conference. The event will celebrate the direct beneficiaries of the ‘Not Too Young To Run Act’ signed into law on May 31st, 2018 by President Muhammadu Buhari. The young lawmakers will have an opportunity to interact and learn from the experiences of an array of highly respected and seasoned speakers headlining the conference. The keynote speech will be delivered by Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Speaker, House of Representatives. Other speakers include Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako; Hon. Nnenna Ukeje; Hon. Tony Nwulu; Hon. Raphael Igbokwe (Chair, Young Parliamentarians Forum); Hon. Luke Onofiok, (Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly); Hon. Desmond Elliot; Eugenia Abu; Udo Jude Ilo; Oladayo Olaide; Catriona Liang (British High Commissioner to Nigeria); W. Stuart Symington, (US Ambassador to Nigeria) amongst others.

Unarguably, Nigeria needs a new leadership paradigm that puts the people first. This leadership model must be driven by the philosophy of results and impact as well as accountability and transparency.  Through ‘The Convergence’, the ‘Not Too Young To Run Movement’ and YIAGA AFRICA are mobilizing a new breed of visionary public leaders to sanitize electoral politics, obtain political power through the ballot and provide accountable, responsive and innovative leadership.

The Convergence 2.0 is the second in the series of conferences hosted by the movement. The maiden edition held in December 2018 to inspire and equip youth candidates running in the 2019 elections with relevant skills and knowledge for effective campaigns. Over 400 youth candidates were supported to participate at the conference. The Convergence is supported by the United Kingdom Agency for International Development (UKAID).

Signed

Samson Itodo

Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA and Convener, Not Too Young To Run movement

YIAGA AFRICA Assess Successes, Challenges of 2019 Parallel Vote Tabulation Election Observation Deployment

YIAGA AFRICA has conducted an extensive reflection sessions with its State Focal Points in charge of election observation deployment in various states in Nigeria to assess the quality of its deployment for the 2019 elections. It can be recalled that YIAGA AFRICA through its Watching The Vote (WTV) project deployed 3906 observers across all Local Government areas in Nigeria for the 2019 Presidential elections using the Parallel Vote Tabulation methodology and has taken steps to assess the process in a bid to improve on it ahead of the Bayelsa and Kogi Governorship elections coming up November 2019.

Before the elections, YIAGA AFRICA built a structure of 48 State Focal Points (SFPs) across all 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with states like Kano, Lagos, Rivers, Anambra, Borno, Katsina and Kaduna State having more than one SFP due to its geography and population. WTV recruited SFPs were in charge of project in the state as they recruited Local Government Areas Supervisors in every LGA in Nigeria while also representing the project in election observation related activities in their states. The LGA Supervisors on the other hand recruited polling unit observers from sampled polling units with the support and coordination of the State Focal Points in the state. Thus the SFPs are in a position to assess the quality of PVT deployment in the state ranging from quality of observers and whether they have been recruited from the right polling units.

During the post-election debrief session across all Geopolitical zones in Nigeria; SFPs revealed that the WTV project helped to build the capacity of citizens and provided an opportunity for them to participate in the process of entrenching free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria. This is evident as some observers voluntarily observed subsequent elections as citizens’ observers without support from the WTV project. The PVT deployment for the 2019 general elections also improved gender mainstreaming and women participation in the electoral process as SFPs revealed that in most cases over 40percent of Polling Unit and roving observers are female.

Another major success recorded by the largest movement committed to credible elections during the 2019 elections is the fact that despite the threat to violence in some areas, WTV observers successfully deployed to sampled polling units without major hitches. Similarly, WTV observers were mostly seen as ambassadors of credible elections in their communities. Also the project built on its credibility as election stakeholders, like electoral commission, Nigerian Police other security agencies, traditional and religious leaders and other election stakeholders further reaffirmed their confidence in the WTV election observation project.

For instance, The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Oyo State, Barrister Mutiu Agboke opined that “WTV will always gain recognition because they have integrity, call me for any of your activity and my team I will attend”. Similarly, Dr John Oyedokun Adewoye of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Oyo State said YIAGA AFRICA WTV project is a well-recognized institution in electoral matters and assured the support of the NSCDC throughout Oyo State. Likewise, the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ondo State endorsed the WTV project saying, “honestly WTV project is doing wonderful by using data and technology to enhance integrity of election, I wish INEC will adopt the system”.

While the WTV successfully deployed observers to sampled polling units, getting quality non-partisan citizens was a herculean task especially riverine communities, clustered localities and settings with low literacy level. Despite these challenges, coupled with insurgency in the North East the team leveraged on existing relationship with members of community and opinion leaders to make sure deployment was 100% on Election Day.

As YIAGA AFRICA’s Watching The Vote prepares for the Bayelsa and Kogi Governorship elections, we remain committed to building confidence of citizens in the electoral process as we continue to build a nationwide movement of citizens committed to credible elections.

We hereby appreciate the support of election stakeholders like the Independent National Electoral Commission, Nigerian Police, NSCDC, Traditional and religious leaders, the Nigerian Union of journalists and most importantly our observers for a successful deployment of the PVT during the 2019 elections.

Samson Itodo ED YIAGA AFRICA

2019 Elections: Can the Nigerian Judiciary deliver electoral justice? – Itodo Samson

Democracy thrives with an independent judiciary that is insulated from undue interference.  The Judiciary is the hope of the common man as well as the political elite. Nigeria has just concluded its general elections where the contest for political power assumed unimaginable acmes with democratic institutions weakened and sabotaged by the state; rampageous political thugs destroyed election materials, abducted and raped election officials; voter suppression manifested through arbitrary cancellations of votes and purchase of voter cards from eligible voters; selective and non-application of electoral guidelines and violence were the order of the day. These elections have come and gone, and attention has shifted from the umpire who may have not sufficiently discharged her constitutional responsibilities. All eyes are now on the judiciary, who is not just the third arm of government but the umpire to adjudicate the petitions arising from the elections.

At this point, the critical question to ask is “Is the Nigerian judiciary ready, and able deliver justice?”

In recent times, the Nigerian judiciary has been mired in corruption scandals, their Lordships have been accused of consistently desecrating the sacred temple of justice without reprimand or sanctions. Since the Buhari administration came into office, there has been stings targeted at the judiciary with the most recent being the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria based on non-declaration of assets. Admittedly, there is corruption in the court, however, the attacks on the temple of justice have further eroded the trust and belief in the judiciary as the hope of the ordinary man. This distrust will play out in the election petitions where even if the court correctly dispenses the law, they are likely to be perceived as partisan and another gun for hire.

It is scary to note the pervading fear across board, that justice may be difficult to obtain against a ruling party. It is believed that only an overly courageous judge can muster the audacity to acknowledge an irregularity and annul an election where the ruling party won. This perceived fear of intimidation and accompanying backlash, as well as the fear of violence outbreak, are palpable trepidations for most judges today. It is therefore plausible to opine that instilling fear in judges is a viable tactic employed by politicians to muscle the judiciary and undermine its ability to deliver justice.

The judiciary cannot be sequestered from culpability. The number of conflicting judgments issued on the same or similar matters by courts of coordinate jurisdiction is alarming. Some judges are either yielding to corrupt politicians or shying away from responsibilities and in that guise issue contentious judgments. Since the conclusion of the elections, we’ve witnessed abuse of court processes.  The first was a judge who ruled on matters which fall within the purview of election petition tribunal; subsequently, others started dishing out injunctions prohibiting the counting of votes and restraining INEC from organising supplementary elections and sundry matters. If the interest of justice was ever considered some of the anomalies that unfolded would never have seen the light of the day.

The New Normal is for politicians to perpetrate electoral malpractices and urge their opponents to approach the court for judicial review. The norm is to recruit the services of legal counsel, mostly Senior Advocates with a good media profile. The lawyers are not just adept at using technicalities to subvert the law but are believed to have the ability to bribe judges to procure favourable judgments. In some cases, Senior Advocates often regarded as veterans with good media profile and public acceptance are purposely recruited to give legal proceedings a toga of legitimacy where the judges and their conspirators anticipate backlash or substantial public outcry over a procured judgement.

Another evolving trend is the safety of judges on election petition assignments.  For instance, the Osun State governorship election petition tribunals had to relocate her sitting to Abuja for security purposes. It is also important to point out the alarming fears that the location of a court may influence the judgement or ideological orientation of the judges. The Zamfara APC conundrum and ruling is a pointer.

The judiciary is tasked with the responsibility of dispensing over 639 pre-election cases arising from the party primaries and 736 cases emanating from the just concluded elections. The presidential election has four election petitions, 207 for senatorial elections, 101 for the house of representatives, 43 in governorship and 381 in the state house of assembly elections. The number of election petitions reveals the heated nature of the electoral contest and the conviction of some actors, that they were shortchanged in the just concluded elections. It is a welcome development when aggrieved candidates and political parties approach the courts for redress instead of resorting to violence. It is therefore incumbent on the court to deliver justice.

Judicial review is the bedrock of democracy, and without it, the rights and liberty of the people will be jeopardised. It connotes, the court is an impartial umpire in the business of government and controls the management of societal affairs. It is the constitutional right of the judiciary to review and cancel legislation or actions that taken illegally by the government. It further connotes the reassessment or re-examination by judges of a decision or proceeding by a lower court or government department. Judicial review must, therefore, advance the cause of electoral justice.

Moreover, electoral justice will be attained if only those who are called to dispense justice in the society are themselves part of the democratic system and are imbued with democratic ideas. Therefore, the Courts and her ministers in the temple of justice must be insulated from the undercurrents of partisan politics. As human beings, they may have their individual political beliefs, but they must divorce their professional personalities from partisan politics if they would be trusted to dispense justice without fear or favour. The Nigerian judiciary cannot afford to fail the Nigerian people.

Samson Itodo is an elections and constitution building enthusiast. He is the Executive Director of YIAGA AFRICA and Convener of the Not Too Young To run movement. Send comments and feedback to [email protected] He tweets @DSamsonItodo

 

Students at the YIAGA AFRICA Democracy Summer Camp

Yiaga AFRICA Hosts Democracy Camps with Secondary School Students in Bauchi, Nasarawa and Kogi States

YIAGA AFRICA, with support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) under the Empowering Youth for Effective Democratic Participation Project seeks to educate young Nigerians on citizenship, civic activism, and fundamental human rights so that they actively engage in participatory democracy.

The Democracy Camp (civic education camps), hosted by YIAGA AFRICA will hold for two days and bring together 100 senior secondary school students from 10 selected schools in each of the following states – Bauchi, Kogi, and Nassarawa states.

In Bauchi and Nasarawa states, the Camp will hold between 3-4 April, 2019, while the Camp will hold in Kogi at a later date.

The Democracy Camp has been held annually for the past six years as part of YIAGA AFRICA’s strategic objectives to build the next generation of leaders and civic actors.

100 students in each state participate in the civic education camp, which features workshops, debates, interactive sessions and simulation exercises exploring the fundamentals of civic activism, citizenship, human rights, and political participation.

Through the Camp, YIAGA AFRICA has and will continuously foster a new generation of informed young democratic activists across Nigeria.

YIAGA firmly believes young people possess the skill, intellect, resilience and energy needed to solve Africa’s governance and development challenges. To this end, we are driven by the desire to mobilize and empower young people with the requisite skills and knowledge that makes them agents of change in their community.

Upright Nigeria assessment on Vote buying and selling

UpRight4Nigeria: How Kaduna Youths Resisted Vote Buying, Selling During 2019 Elections

In the just concluded 2019 elections in Kaduna state, citizens prove to politicians that selling their votes is not an option. This was revealed during the YIAGA AFRICA’s assessment of UpRight4Nigeria’s pre-election vote buying and selling sensitization rally which shows that the campaign successfully mitigated vote buying and selling in Kaduna, through the Strengthening Citizens Resistance Against Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP-C) project.

In Kaduna, over one thousand (1000) youths participated in UpRight4Nigeria’s pre-election vote buying/selling sensitization and rally in three local government areas of three senatorial zones where they pledged commitments to stand against vote buying during the 2019 general elections in their individual localities.

During the assessment exercise, YIAGA AFRICA’s program officer, Tracy Keshi, addressed the impact of this sensitization, stating that the general election in Kaduna state indicated high-resistance to vote buying and selling due to the prior sensitization on voters’ rights.

According to Keshi, “it is about reaching out to Nigerian youths especially as regards to vote buying and selling, which is a form of electoral corruption. To say, I am standing up right for Nigeria, and also to sign pledge cards to firmly attest that they were not going to sell or buy votes actually helped in reducing the level of vote buying and selling”, Keshi says.

A participant at the forum, Abubakar Aliyu, said that the sensitisation he had from YIAGA Africa and SCRAP-C, before the 2019 general elections, was an eye-opener to the effect of vote selling and vote buying.

“I was approached to sell my voter card during elections, I refused to sell it because it was the only weapon I have as a citizen of Nigeria to vote for the leader of my choice during the election. Thanks to YIAGA Africa for sensitisation.

Aliyu Musa, a student of Kaduna State University who, “thanks YIAGA Africa for enlightening us on corruption”, described corruption as a symptom that things, somewhere, were going in the wrong direction.

“It is not only government that engages in corrupt practices; as an individual, I have learnt that even playing truancy by staying away from school is corruption.

Ishaq Idris, a businessman, however, said that people who did not comply with laid down rules in the society and failed to be law-abiding citizens should be sanctioned. “If people should respect   rules and regulations that govern the entity –family, enterprise, government, council, country — certainly the society will be corrupt free.

Umma Sani, another participant, expressed concern that some people in authority turned around to manipulate the system to their advantage. “Custodians of policies, rules and regulations should be held with a high sense of respect and accountability, they should wish to meet their creator with pure hearts,” he said.

YIAGA AFRICA had initially conducted advocacy visits to Kaduna state police command, pre-election town hall meetings with various youth groups and a campaign rally. This was followed by the post-election evaluation where close to 700  youths agreed to inculcate and nurture right attitudes to corruption, as they all signed Upright for Nigeria pledged cards, committing to stand up right for Nigeria.

A major achievement from the sensitization is this significant number of youths who signed the pledge cards and are very determined to carry on with this project as ambassadors of UpRight4Nigeria.  

Idris Muhammad at WTV Data centre

Inconclusive Elections: Lessons Not Learnt – Idris Muhammed

The essence of democracy is to give citizens equal access and conducive atmosphere to elect their leaders regardless of who they choose or what the candidates have to offer, anything less is a great threat to the existence of democracy. The current progressive decline of the quality of elections in Nigeria is worrisome and frightening, with the situation dragging the nation to a democratic precipice.  The just concluded supplementary elections in Kano, Sokoto, Plateau, Benue, Bauchi have recorded the same or even more irregularities that led to its initial cancellation by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). No matter what the outcome of these elections, Nigerians may still lose confidence in the system.

Regardless of one’s political affiliation, there was high level of abuse of human rights in the recent gubernatorial elections in Nigeria.  The desperation exhibited by both the incumbent and the opposition to get the result in their favour by all means is taking us back to square one with desperate politicians deploying every trick in their hats to disrupt the peaceful conduct of the election with a view to swaying voters to their side. In fact, the electoral guideline did not matter at all, going by the level of intimidation of voters especially women, elections observers and journalists witnessed during the elections. The political actors from both sides had a field day destroying the sanctity of the democratic process.

More controversial was the Kano rerun election described by most election observers as nothing but a sham and a charade that turned the tenets of democracy on its head. In broad daylight, politicians deployed political thugs that overpowered the security agencies and forced the electorates to leave the polling units. There were clear instances where party agents and political thugs tortured and intimidated voters into voting their candidates. In Nasarawa, Dala, Bichi and Minjibir Local governments for example, political thugs restricted the electorates’ access to polling units, stoning them and violently disrupting the peaceful elections.  In a nutshell, several observer groups report showed a lot of irregularities, harassment of voters, INEC officials and abuse of the exercise. All these power tussle and desperation was as a result of the political value of Kano state and the political calculation ahead of 2023 elections. However, these desperate political elites have little or no interest of the masses in their hearts.

Despite the heavy security deployment in Benue state, an INEC returning officer was shot dead by political thugs in Gboko, where election materials were burnt to ashes, polling officials assaulted and disallowed to perform their duties. This is not the kind of elections that Nigerians need, of course democracy is supposed to be functioning well to provide enabling environment for everyone to feel safe. While, Sokoto and Plateau recorded little incidents but have issues of underage voting and high rate voter inducement, Bauchi election was peaceful as reported, but there were incidences of policemen leaving polling units as a result of rancor among the party supporters and agents. This is a clear indication that we are not ready to move from the present political madness.

Many public affairs commentators are of the belief that Nigerians deserve elections at once. This will enable the country to cut down on election expenses, and above all discourage voter apathy. They opined that this is doable only if the relevant sections of the electoral law are amended by adopting simple majority system just like in the national assembly elections. Furthermore, INEC should be given the power to disqualify any candidate or political party that causes electoral.

The factors that resulted in inconclusive election such as violence, over voting, underage voting, and cancellation have repeated themselves in the just concluded supplementary polls. Sadly, the factors became worse due to the desperation of politicians who turned elections into a do or die affair. For instance, in Kano state, the war of supremacy between Kwankwaso and Ganduje has reached its peak with the supporters of the duo brandishing and using dangerous weapons against one another. The quest for power among Nigerian politicians is born out of the huge financial benefits attached to the offices. We need to make politics less attractive, If politicians see politics as a call to duty many would drop their desperation to clinch power against all odds.

Idris Mohammed is a Program Officer YIAGA Africa Abuja.

[email protected]

Tweets @idpyar

Upright 4 Nigeria

YIAGA urges youths to be law abiding, shun corruption

An NGO, YIAGA Africa, has called on youths in the country to be law abiding and shun corruption.

The Project Officer of Yiaga Africa, Ms Tracy Keshi, made the call at a forum in Kaduna on Tuesday organised in partnership with Strengthening Citizens Resistance Against Prevalence Corruption (SCRAP-C).

Keshi said that the forum was necessary in order to review the experiences of youths during the 2019 general elections, in relation to vote buying and other election irregularities in Kaduna state.

She said that YIAGA Africa and SCRAP-C, had before the elections, held sensitisation programmes to promote Corrupt-Free Societies in Nigeria with Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa, Borno, Yobe and Abuja as coverage areas.

“We choose Kaduna to be one of our host states because it is a religious, homogeneous state; advocating corrupt-free society will help minimise the influence of hate speech and religious violence in the state,“ she said.

She further urged the youth to continue to be upright and embrace positive endeavours so that they could be useful to Nigeria.

A participant at the forum, Abubakar Aliyu, said that the sensitisation he had from YIAGA Africa and SCRAP-C, before the 2019 general elections, was an eye opener to the effect of vote selling and vote buying.

“I was approached to sell my voter card during elections, I refused to sell it because it was the only weapon I have as a citizen of Nigeria to vote for the leader of my choice during election. Thanks to YIAGA Africa for the sensitisation.

Aliyu Musa, a student of Kaduna State University who, “thanks YIAGA Africa for enlightening us on corruption”, described corruption as a symptom that things, somewhere, were going in the wrong direction.

“It is not only government that engages in corrupt practices; as an individual, I have learnt that even playing truancy by staying away from school is corruption.

Ishaq Idris, a businessman, however, said that people who did not comply with laid down rules in the society and failed to be law abiding citizens should be sanctioned.

“If people should respect rules and regulations that govern the entity –family, enterprise, government, council, country — certainly the society will be corrupt free.

Umma Sani, another participant, expressed concern that some people in authority turned around to manipulate the system to their advantage.

“Custodians of policies, rules and regulations should be held with high sense of respect and accountability, they should wish to meet their creator with pure hearts,” he said.

High point at the occasion was the swearing of oats by the participants to be conscious of avoiding any form of corruption; either at home or work places.

Source: nnn.com

WTV MID DAY SITUATION PRESS CONFERENCE

YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote Mid day Situational Statement on the Set up and Opening of Polls



Introduction

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests – welcome to the YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV)’s Situational Press Conference on Opening and Set-Up of Polling Units for the March 23, 2019 governorship supplementary elections. This briefing is the second in a series of three planned press conferences to be hosted by YIAGA AFRICA. We equally invite you to join us at the same location on Sunday, March 24 2019 at 2:00pm when YIAGA AFRICA will share its findings from the observation of the conduct of the elections in each of the states affected.

For the Governorship supplementary elections, YIAGA AFRICA deployed 258 stationary polling unit observers, 6 roving observers and 97 LGA results collation centre observers. The observers were properly trained to observe the entire election day process from opening and setup of the polling units, accreditation, voting, announcement and posting of the official results. All reports are sent via coded text messages to the National Data Centre to enable YIAGA AFRICA provide timely information on the conduct of elections in the polling units observed.

Watching the Vote Findings

This report contains initial WTV findings as at 1:30 pm, with complete reports received from her observers in 225 Polling units in 89 LGAs in the 5 states where the Governorship Supplementary Elections are being conducted.

  1. As at 7:30 am, YIAGA AFRICA WTV observers reported that INEC officials had arrived at 83% of 23 PUs in Bauchi, 46% of 65 PUs in Benue, 68% of 28 PUs in Plateau, 48% of 85 PUs in Kano and 98% of 45 PUs in Sokoto state. 
  • At 9:00 am, 100% of 22 PUs in Bauchi, 71% of 56 PUs in Benue, 100% of 27 PUs in Plateau, 78% of 76 PUs in Kano and 100% of 39 PUs visited in Sokoto had commenced accreditation and voting.
  • 100% of the polling units visited in Bauchi, Benue, Plateau and Sokoto states had both APC and PDP agents present. While 97% of polling units in Kano had APC agents and 87% had PDP agents.
  • All the polling units visited in Bauchi, Benue, Plateau, Kano and Sokoto state had 4 or more polling officials present. At least 1 in 4 of the officials is a female. When compared to other states, the polling units visited in Bauchi state had fewer women as polling officials. In addition, not less than 96% of polling units visited in these states, had security personnel present.
  • One or more essential materials like register of voters, indelible ink/marker pen, polling official stamp, voting cubicle, ink pad, gubernatorial ballot box and polling unit booklet, were not seen in 10% of 59 PUs in Bauchi, 37% of 23 PUs in Benue, 33% of 28 PUs in Plateau, 18% of 79 PUs in Kano and 9% of 40 PUs visited in Sokoto state. More importantly, Smart Card Readers were present in 100% of polling units in Benue, Plateau and Sokoto state and were not present in 2% of 57 PUs in Bauchi and 1% of 79 PUs in Kano state.
  • Polling units were set up so that voters could mark their ballot paper in secret without exposure in: 87% of 23 PUs in Bauchi, 95% of 57 PUs in Benue, 85% of 26P Us Plateau, 81% of 79 PUs in Kano and 90% of 40 PUs visited in Sokoto states.

Critical Incidents

YIAGA AFRICA has received the following critical incidents from her observers;

  1. Voter Suppression and Intimidation: YIAGA AFRICA received reports on voter suppression manifested in the form of denying voters access to polling units by political thugs. This was prevalent in Kano State in the specific locations; In Kofa Gida Allahrama PU 008, Kanawa Cikin Gari Ward 05, in Sumaila LGA; Zango PU 021, Karaye ward 03, Karaye LGA; and Agawawa, PU 012, Bichi ward 02, Bichi LGA in Kano state, voters believed to be supporters of one of the major parties were harassed by party thugs. In some cases, the thugs chased out the voters from the polling unit.
  2. Intimidation of Observers and media reporters: In PUs 008 and 010, Kwarkiya Ward of Minjibir LGA Kano state, WTV Observers’ Election Observation Checklist were snatched and destroyed by thugs alleged to be supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC). . Observers were also chased away in polling unit 008, Kanawa ward; Cikin Gari ward 05, in Sumaila LGA; and PU 07, Batayya ward 02, Albasu LGA in Kano state. In Zango PU 021, Karaye ward 03, Karaye LGA in Kano state, observers and media reporters were chased away by political party thugs.
  3. Disruption of the Electoral Process: YIAGA AFRICA also received reports of destruction of the election materials, clash between political party agents and political thugs which resulted in disruption of the process. For instance Election materials for Azendi-Eshi Council Ward-02 of Ukum LGA in Benue state were burnt before deployment to polling units. This affected the commencement of the elections in all the polling units under this ward. In Tse Akough- Near Tse Ak Polling unit 012, Yaav Ward, Kwande LGA in Benue state, a political party thug attempted to snatch the ballot papers and it resulted to a fracas between party agents at the polling unit. The security officials intervened by providing security for INEC officials. A clash between APC and PDP supporters disrupted the process and threatened voters and observers access to Naadatul Islam primary school polling unit, Gwammaja ward 21, Dala LGA and PU  021 (Zango 4), Karaye ward of Karaye LGA, Kano state. This was later resolved after the police intervened.  In Kofar Gidan Litti Kulku l, PU 020, Yelwa ward 12 of Dala LGA, Kano state, voting process commenced after 10am due to disruption of the electoral process and determination of political party thugs to prevent commencement of polls. Voting was also disrupted in Dudu PU 010, Rara ward 03, Raba LGA in Sokoto as political thugs were reported to have snatched the ballot box for the polling unit.

4. Vote Buying:

Widespread reports of vote buying and selling were received from polling units in Plateau, Kano and Benue states.

5. Bribery and Conspiracy: YIAGA AFRICA received reports of bribery of polling officials and security officials in Angwa Kasua 001 PU, ward 11, Mangu LGA in Plateau State. In PU 001, Kodape Primary School, Karu, Nassarawa state, security agents particularly the Nigerian Police received bribes from party agents. Embarrassingly, the negotiation for the bribe resulted in a brawl between police and party agents.

6. Threat to Secrecy of the Ballot: In PU 011 Darki Zango Islamiya, ward Darki, Wudil LGA in Kano State, voting was conducted without a voting cubicle, with party agents allowed to cross-check how each voter voted.

Preliminary Observation

  1. YIAGA AFRICA notes the resilience demonstrated by registered voters in some states to cast their vote in the supplementary elections. Kano, Bauchi and Sokoto recorded an appreciable level of turnout of women and youths for the election.
  • YIAGA AFRICA condemns the deployment of thugs by the two major political parties in the elections. Despite huge deployment of security personnel for the elections, political thugs visibly attacked voters and disrupted elections in some polling stations in Kano and Benue states without any resistance or reprimand from security agencies. This is worrisome and raises serious questions on the effectiveness of security deployment for the supplementary elections.
  • Proliferation of small and light arms: YIAGA AFRICA notes with concern the possession of small and light arms by political thugs in the election. This illegal possession of arms poses a threat to political stability and human rights. There’s need to investigate the illegal possession of arms by political thugs and hold their sponsors to account.
  • In view of the contentious nature of the elections in some states, INEC should strengthen its oversight on the results collation process. Judging from experience, collation and returning officers should be put under strict supervision as the collation process begins to halt any attempt to cancel votes arbitrarily. Where returning and collation officials misapply the electoral guidelines, the Commission should ensure timely reversal of such misapplication and communicate its decision in a timely manner. This is essential for boosting stakeholder confidence in the elections.
  • INEC should maintain its periodic briefing with election stakeholders on the elections at the National and state levels. INEC’s online and offline media platforms should be utilized in sharing information with the public. YIAGA AFRICA reiterates its earlier call to INEC to make public the data on PVC collection rates in the affected polling units.
  • YIAGA AFRICA urges security agencies to perform their functions within constitutional limits. We reiterate our call on security agencies to provide adequate security for election materials and officials, accredited observers, media personnel and voters. Also, security agents must remain non-partisan and professional throughout the election. We call on the leadership of the Nigerian police to investigate reports of bribery and corruption against police officers on election duty.

YIAGA AFRICA will continue to observe the elections in the 5 states where her observers are deployed. As noted earlier, YIAGA AFRICA will deploy 97 LGA results collation centre observers to monitor the results collation process. We urge INEC to ensure the results collation centers are accessible to observers, media and party agents. As an independent election observer group, we will provide a detailed assessment report of the result collation process in the 5 states with governorship rerun elections.

YIAGA AFRICA is undertaking the Watching The Vote project to provide Nigerian voters, governorship candidates, political parties, civil society and INEC with independent information on the conduct of the elections. The Watching The Vote project is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!”

Thank you and God Bless the people of Nigeria!

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.



WTV SUPPLEMENTARY ELECTION PRE-ELECTION PRESS CONFERENCE

Pre-Election Press Statement YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote 2019 Governorship and State Assembly Supplementary Elections

Introduction

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests – welcome to the YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV)’s Preliminary Press Conference on the observation plans for the governorship and state assembly supplementary elections scheduled for March 23, 2019 and the pre-election environment leading up to the elections. This briefing is the first in a series of three planned press conferences to be hosted by YIAGA AFRICA in this election. We equally invite you to join us at the Watching The Vote Data centre, Floor 01, Niger/Enugu Hall, Transcorp Hilton, Abuja on Saturday 23 March 2019 at 2pm when YIAGA AFRICA will share its Situational Statement on the set up and opening of polls and on Sunday 24 March 2019 at 2:00 pm when YIAGA AFRICA will share its Preliminary Statement on the conduct of the elections.

On March 9, 2019, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted Governorship and State House of Assembly elections across the federation. Although there was an improvement with the management of election logistics, the election was fraught with egregious violations of electoral guidelines, intimidation, vote buying, violence and disruption by thugs and some security personnel resulting to inconclusive elections in some states. These inconclusive elections have become a subject of litigation resulting to several court injections restraining INEC from concluding the election in some states like Adamawa and Bauchi states. Notwithstanding, INEC has fixed March 23, 2019 to conclude the governorship elections in Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto states and State Assembly elections in Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Edo, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Lagos, Nassarawa, Osun, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba and FCT Area council elections in Abaji, Bwari, Gwagwalada and Kuje.   

YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote Observation of the 2019 Governorship and State Assembly Supplementary Elections

On March 23, 2019, YIAGA AFRICA will deploy duly trained and accredited stationary and roving observers to observe the conduct of the supplementary elections in the affected polling units and states. YIAGA AFRICA will deploy 258 stationary observers and 6 roving observers. 97 LGA results collation centre observers. Our observers will observe the entire election day process from setup of the polling units, accreditation, voting, announcement and posting of the official results and will send in periodic reports to the Watching the Vote National Data Centre located at Floor 01, Niger/Enugu Hall, Transcorp Hilton, Abuja where they will be processed and analyzed. This deployment will enable YIAGA AFRICA to provide the most timely and accurate information on the governorship rerun elections in the 5 states.

Matters Arising

  • Judicial interference with the electoral process: Following the March 9 elections, political parties have resorted to procuring court injunctions to restrain INEC from concluding the elections in states like Adamawa and Bauchi. YIAGA AFRICA is concerned with the manner some judges have granted applications without recourse to judicial precedent and extant laws. For instance, Justice Abdulaziz Waziri of the Adamawa State High Court issued an injunction restraining INEC from conducting rerun elections in Adamawa following an application by the Movement for Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD), a political party that never presented a candidate in the main election. Similarly, Justice Inyang Ekwo of Federal High Court in Abuja also issued an order restraining INEC from continuing with the collation of results in Bauchi state based on an ex parte motion initiated by the All Progressive Congress (APC) and its candidate Mohammed Abubakar. This emerging trend undermines democratic institutions like INEC and could dampen citizens confidence in the judiciary. The National Judicial Council (NJC) should without further delay caution members of the bench to refrain from interfering with the electoral process through the issuance of questionable orders and injunctions.
  • INEC’s Information management and communication: YIAGA AFRICA notes the confusion and misinformation in public domain with respect to states and polling units where rerun governorship elections will be conducted. YIAGA AFRICA believes this confusion was informed by INEC’s poor data management and timely dissemination of information on the supplementary elections. This we believe, may affect turnout of voters for the supplementary elections. YIAGA AFRICA reiterates that openness and transparency are a pre-requisite for boosting stakeholder confidence in the electoral process.
  • Election Security: Nigerians have received assurances from security agencies on their non-partisanship and professionalism in the management of election security operations. INEC also informed stakeholder that it has received assurances of support from the security agencies. YIAGA AFRICA has received reports of heavy deployment of security personnel to the states with governorship rerun elections. It is our considered opinion that security deployment for elections should be commiserate with level of threats.
  • Heighten incidence of voter inducement: In an attempt to woo voters, politicians have resorted to voter inducement using gift items, suspicious community empowerment programs and cash handouts in locations considered to be swing wards and polling units. From all indications, the supplementary elections in some states will be determined by the highest bidder. This is worrisome and poses a huge threat to Nigeria’s democracy and political legitimacy.

Recommendations

Electoral transparency

  • INEC should make public the data on PVC collection rates in the affected polling units. This information should be shared with stakeholders and posted on all INEC’s online and offline media platforms.
  •  INEC should ensure accurate and timely deployment of election materials to affected polling units on election day.
  • It is important to note that these supplementary elections were occasioned by the non-use of card readers or failure to deploy them to affected polling units. With this in mind, INEC must insist on electronic accreditation of voters using the Smart Card Readers and PVC.
  • In view of the contentious nature of the elections in some states, INEC should strengthen its oversight on the electoral process especially the results collation process. There should be strict compliance with the Regulations and guidelines for the elections. Where INEC officials misapply the guidelines, the Commission should ensure timely reversal of such misapplication and communicate its decision in a timely manner. Also, election officials who disregard electoral guidelines should be sanctioned appropriately.
  • INEC should maintain its periodic briefing with election stakeholders on the elections at the National and state levels. INEC’s online and offline media platforms should be utilized in sharing information with the public.

Improved election Security

  • YIAGA AFRICA calls on the security agencies to ensure proper coordination and collaboration in the management of election security. The Nigerian Police is the lead security agency responsible for election security therefore, sister agencies should respect proper lines of communication and rules of engagement. Security agencies must at all cost remain non-partisan and professional in their conduct and operation.
  • Security agencies should ensure election officials and materials are adequately secured. YIAGA AFRICA reiterates the need for security agencies to respect the rights of Nigerians in the light of series of harassment and intimidation of voters that characterized the recently conducted elections.

Political Parties and candidates

  • YIAGA AFRICA calls on all political parties contesting in the supplementary elections to ensure they encourage their supporters to come out and vote within the ambit of the law and to refrain from vote selling and violence.
  • YIAGA AFRICA also calls on all Political parties to refrain from deploying thugs or promoting any disruptive action that would lead to violence or halt the conclusion of the elections.

Voters:

YIAGA AFRICA calls on Nigerian citizens who are the biggest stakeholder in this election to turn out in their numbers and cast their votes by properly thumbprinting the ballot to reduce the number of rejected/invalid votes.

YIAGA AFRICA undertook the Watching The Vote project to provide Nigerian voters, governorship candidates, political parties, civil society and INEC with independent information on the conduct of the elections. The Watching The Vote project is “Driven by Data – For All Nigerians – Beholden to None!

Thank you and God Bless the people of Nigeria!

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]

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