Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests – welcome to the YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote (WTV)’s Midday Situational Press Conference on Opening and Set-Up of Polling Units for the governorship and state assembly elections on March 9, 2019. 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 10 March 2019 at 1:00 pm when YIAGA AFRICA will share its findings from the observation of the conduct of the governorship elections.
For the Governorship election, YIAGA AFRICA deployed 682 observers across 642 LGAs in 29 states where governorship elections are conducted. These include 642 stationary observers and 40 roving observers. YIAGA AFRICA will also deploy observers to 642 LGA results collation centres and 29 state result collation centres. Our 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 report will be send in reports via coded text messages to the National Data Centre to enable YIAGA AFRICA provide timely information on the conduct of election in the polling units observed. This statement is an update on the Mid-Day Situational assessment of the opening of polls for the 9 March, 2019 Gubernatorial elections.
Watching the Vote Polling Unit Set-Up Findings
This report contains initial WTV findings as at 11:30 am on election day, with complete reports received from polling units visited by the Watching the Vote observers in 642 LGAs in the 29 states where Governorship Elections are being conducted.
- As of 7:30 am, YIAGA AFRICA WTV observers reported that INEC officials had arrived at 56% of 663 polling units visited across the 29 States.
- By 9:00 am, 77% of 663 polling units visited had commenced accreditation and voting.
- 585 of polling units visited had 4 or more polling officials present, of which at least 2 are female. The polling units visited in the North West geopolitical zone had fewer women as polling officials than other zones. In addition, 95% of these 584 polling units visited, had security personnel present.
- Of the 585 Polling units visited, APC party agents were seen in 76% polling units and PDP party agents in 97% polling units.
- Essential materials (register of voters, indelible ink/marker pen, polling official stamp, voting cubicle, ink pad, presidential ballot box and polling unit booklet) were present in 99% of 585 polling units. Specifically, Smart Card Readers were present in 99% polling units visited.
YIAGA AFRICA has received the following critical incidents from her observers;
- Missing and Incomplete materials: Reports on missing ballot papers were received during the distribution of materials at the Rufu RAC Ussa LGA of Taraba State. In Kosofe LGA of Lagos State INEC officials as at 12noon were yet to deploy as packs of ballot papers were missing. Reports of incomplete ballots papers were received from ward 10, Eleta II Polling Unit 32, Ibadan South East LGA in Oyo State.
- INEC Adhoc official Refusing to Deploy: Reports of adhoc officials protesting non-payment of their monies from previous election were received from Agege and Oshodi/Isolo LGAs in Lagos State. Due to security reasons and lack of adequate security protection, INEC official declined to deploy sensitive materials to the Open space Imenyi polling unit 009, ward 11, Emuoha LGA, Rivers state. It is important to note that 4 persons were previously killed on March 8, 2019 in the ward which created a lot of tension.
- Destruction and Burning of Election Materials: Reports on burning of election materials were received from Umughara Ward II affecting 13 Polling Units as well as Oriuzo Ward and Ekka Ward all in Ezza North LGAs in Ebonyi State.
- Voting without the Smart Card Reader: WTV observers reported voting without card reader in custom II polling unit 028, Shehuri Hausari Mairi ward code 011 in Bama LGA Borno State.
- Ballot Box Snatching: This was reported in Gidan Sarki PU 006 ward 09, Soba LGA in Kaduna state. Another report was received from Efere Town hall polling unit 002, ward 2 in Eleme LGA in Rivers State where hoodlums accompanied by military men hijacked ballot papers and result sheets. Group of thugs also snatched the ballot box and chased voters away in UBE Primary School polling unit 002, Magwai Ward in Jalingo LGA of Taraba State.
- Threat to Media Reporters: Reports of abduction of six journalists were received from Ahoada West LGA in Rivers State.
- Refusal to Deploy: INEC officials and materials yet to be deployed in Abua – Odua LGA in Rivers state due to a clash between the APC and PDP party supporters and the military. This was also reported in Giadom guest house junction polling unit 010, ward 1, Khana LGA with some APC agents and military personnel disrupting deployment.
- Voter Intimidation: voter intimidation by PDP agents reported in Bakin Kasuwa Polling Unit 001/007/Gassol LGA in Taraba State. This was also reported from Giadom guest house junction polling unit 010, ward 1, Khana LGA by some APC agents.
- Inducement and Vote buying: APC and PDP agents engaged in vote buying by distributing money ranging from N100 to N500 and bathing soap in Sabon Garin Wudil Ward 008, Kano State University of Science and Technology Polling units 16 and 17, Wudil LGA, Kano State. This was also reported in Eleme – LGA Ward 02, Ekenkwan Polling unit 006, Ward 02, and Epere polling unit 002 with reports of between N50,000 and N30,000 given to polling officials, N1000 for voters and N100,000 to security personnel.
- Speedy Resolution of Logistics Challenges: YIAGA AFRICA calls on INEC to resolve issues relating to shortage of election materials, non-payment of allowances for adhoc officials and malfunctioning of Smart Card Readers.
- Results Collation: As collation begin in a couple of hours, YIAGA AFRICA reiterates it call to INEC to ensure strict compliance with the electoral guidelines on results collation. The results collations centres should be accessible to accredited observers, media and party agents. INEC should respond to reports of substitution of trained collation officers mid-way to elections in some states like Plateau and Imo.
- Application of the Margin of Lead Principle: YIAGA AFRICA call on INEC to ensure collation officers are abide by the guidelines and regulations on management of margin of lead principle. Results should not be declared and winner returned where the total number of registered voters in cancelled polling units will affect the margin of lead between candidates. This is in consonance with Section 26 and 53 of the 2010 Electoral Act as amended. Furthermore, YIAGA AFRICA urges INEC to ensure that where the scenario in the INEC guidelines on cancelled ballots provides for the election to be conducted the following day, that such elections are conducted as so required to reduce the threat of disenfranchising voters for no fault of theirs. INEC should also ensure the public is duly informed in a timely manner of its decision.
- Posting of Polling Units Results using Form EC 60 E: YIAGA AFRICA urges the Commission to fully comply to the Electoral Guideline for the conduct of the general election by posting Forms EC.60E series in all collation centers. This recommendation is made based on WTV presidential election observation findings of results not posted in 19% of the observed sampled polling units.
- Election security: YIAGA AFRICA condemns the role played by the military in disruption of elections and intimidation of voters and electoral personnel in some states. YIAGA AFRICA calls on security agencies especially the military to refrain from further disruption of elections in some states especially Rivers state. We call on the President Buhari to call the military to order and ensure accountability for erring military officers.
- Adequate Security of Polling Units and Result Collation Centres: YIAGA AFRICA calls on the security agencies to adequately deploy security to the polling units and result collation centres to prevent the rising trend of disruption of the process, intimidation of voters and INEC officials and threat to lives.
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
Executive Director, YIAGA AFRICA
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