This statement on the conduct of the elections is based on YIAGA AFRICA 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 center 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 governorship election and Kogi West senatorial election.
YIAGA AFRICA Process Statement 2019 Kogi Governorship Election Sunday, November 17, 2019 Abuja
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 YIAGA AFRICA 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:
- 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.
- Stockpiling of Small and light weapons and recruitment of political thugs: YIAGA AFRICA highlighted the worrisome trend of easy access and stockpile of small arms and light weapons and the active recruitment of thugs in the state. YIAGA AFRICA 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.
- 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. YIAGA AFRICA WTV observed political parties moving from house to house in places like 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 this trend projected a possible overbearing influence of money in the election, vote buying, community collusion and electoral thugs bargaining.
- Election management: While the pre-election report indicated early commencement of activities by INEC, early and effective deployment of materials and personnel was a major concern in the pre-election phase. YIAGA AFRICA findings revealed reasonable compliance of INEC with the election timetable as indicated in its 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 election operations and logistics management. The conflicting nature of those judgments delivered by courts of coordinate jurisdiction complicated INEC’s preparations for the elections.